On November 10, 2022, the Frankel Center hosted Israeli director Ari Folman for a screening of his animated film, Where is Anne Frank, at the Rackham Amphitheatre. Where is Anne Frank follows Anne’s imaginary friend, Kitty, after she surreally appears in modern-day Amsterdam at the house where Anne and her family have taken refuge. Kitty embarks on a journey to find Anne, whom she believes is still alive. The search for Anne Frank in this film is also a reflection on how we remember the Holocaust and what we do with this memory. Dr. Annemarie Toebosch, who teaches “Anne Frank in Context” as part of the Dutch Program at UM, facilitated the post-film discussion with Folman.
Pictured to the left: Ari Folman and Irene Butter
Director Ari Folman was born and raised in Haifa, Israel, and studied film at Tel Aviv University. His independent directorial debut was the 2001 film Made in Israel. His career took a fascinating turn when he decided to direct an animated documentary based on his experiences as an Israeli soldier in the 1982 Lebanon war. Folman’s family history—he is the son of Polish Holocaust survivors—plays a role in the film: it explains his repression of the massacre of Palestinians that took place in the refugee camps during the war. Waltz with Bashir was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe award. Folman next collaborated with artist David Polonsky on the graphic novel Anne Frank. Where is Anne Frank premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021 and has been screened on campuses across the United States.
The screening drew a large crowd of students, faculty, and community members. Also in attendance was Irene Butter, a German American Professor Emerita in Economic Sciences at the University of Michigan. Butter, a Holocaust survivor and educator, moved to the Netherlands from Germany in the late 1930s, as did the Frank Family. She knew Anne Frank in Amsterdam and later met her and assisted Anne and her sister at Bergen-Belsen. Butter survived Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen and discussed her experiences with Folman in an encounter that took place prior to the screening. The film Where is Anne Frank engages the present refugee crisis in Europe and it speaks to Butter’s lifelong mission to educate about the past and promote tolerance in the present and future.