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March 21, 2014
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Double feature

Beginning Wednesday, a special double feature will screen in Grass Valley highlighting the important role art plays in dire and harsh conditions.

“Beyond The Barbed Wire: An Artist’s View of the Holocaust” examines how creativity energizes and heals those who are suffering.

In Buchenwald, Terezin and Auschwitz, some prisoners created art as a means to escape and express what could not be spoken.

This moment allowed them to connect with their individual identities, in a place of cold, numeric regulation and dehumanization.

Some of the works still exist, hidden in the corners of cell blocks and barracks. Through the words, dreams and paintings of Ben Altman, a survivor of five concentration camps in what was then German occupied Poland, a lifetime of memories pour forth, according to the documentary film’s synopsis.

As Altman survived in Hitler’s camps by making soldiers uniforms and clothing, he used his trade when liberated and moved to San Francisco to become a tailor for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

Later, he became involved with a Jewish community of artists and learned to paint, depicting his memories of his time in the prison camps.

This film includes Fred Wolf of the film “What the Bleep” and various historians and psychologists showing how art saves the soul in the harshest of environments.

“Beyond the Barbed Wire” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed at 9:15 p.m. by “I’m The Divider.”

The documentary film by Matt Webber follows a witness to the issues of immigration as it plays out in the deserts of southern Arizona from the perspective of the Minute Men who do the hunting and the Human Borders who do the saving.

There will be a Q&A following the double feature.

Then March 30 “Beyond the Barbed Wire” will screen at 6:30 p.m. alongside “At Night I Fly,” a documentary that takes a look inside New Folsom Prison Arts Program. The film, by Michele Wenzer of Sweden, won Best Film and Best Direction.

“I came in contact with Spoon Jackson in 2000 through the Swedish theater director Jan Jönsson, who had worked with Spoon on a production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” at San Quentin in 1988. When I heard Spoon’s poems, I thought: this is exactly how important poetry, music or art can be — a mental strategy for survival under extreme circumstances, something that corresponded well with my own experiences,” Wenzer said in the film’s synopsis.

“At Night I Fly,” will play at 8:15 p.m.

The double feature returns April 5 at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the Wednesday double feature are $8. Tickets for March 30 and April 5 are $10 and can be purchased at Brownpapertickets.com.

All movies will screen at the Synthetic Unlimited Opera House, 120 Joerschke Dr. in Grass Valley. For more information, call 530-265-0534

For more about “At Night I Fly,” go to Atnightifly.com.


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The Union Updated Apr 1, 2014 10:33AM Published Mar 21, 2014 11:46PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.