Imaginary Witness

( USA / 2004 )
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Told through first-hand accounts of directors, actors, writers, and producers this documentary asks hard questions about the uneasy relationship between American popular culture and the Holocaust.

We find out about the difficulties and responsibility of filmmakers as they re-imagine for the screen the horrors of Nazi Germany and how film itself has the power to shape and reflect history and memory.
Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 92 min.
Theme: Arts and Culture, Cinema, Holocaust, Jewish Studies, Media, War
Language(s): English
Director(s): Daniel Anker
Producer(s): Daniel Anker
Imaginary Witness


  • “Deserves merit for detailing a painful subject with maturity and intelligence”
    Film Threat
    Phil Hall
  • “Daniel Anker's film faults Hollywood both for ignoring the Holocaust during the war years and for trivializing it later. It's a mixed message that coheres largely thanks to Anker's archival spadework and his luck in securing interviews.”
    Boston Globe
    Ty Burr
  • “Imaginary Witness is powerful and complex, and few will manage to make it through to the end without gasping, weeping or covering their eyes.”
    Arizona Republic
    Richard Nilsen
  • “Anker's film is an important one, shining a light on that red stain and how we saw it filtered through Hollywood's lens.”
    Seattle Times
    Moira MacDonald
  • “This solid, clip-heavy history of Hollywood’s narrative efforts pushes past sobriety to arrive at some tough ideas.”
    Joshua Rothkopf
  • “Sheds light on the paradoxes and political maneuvering that went on in the studios.”
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Bill White

Academic Notes

  • Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (Review), by Lawrence Baron
    "Anker devotes much of the documentary to the formative years of Holocaust cinema. He locates the causes of Hollywood's timidity to make films critical of Hitler and Nazi anti-Semitism in the assimilationist aspirations of the Jewish movie moguls, their fear of American anti-Semitism, the financial dependence of Hollywood on the German distribution market, isolationist opposition to US intervention in European affairs, and the Production Code Administration's system of self-censorship."
  • Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, by Micahel Berenbaum
    "For over half a century Hollywood films have dealt with Nazism and the Holocaust in complex and contradictory ways, marked by outrage and indifference, compassion and ignorance, the need to understand and the desire to forget. And while these events have taken place far from American shores it has been American films that have shaped so deeply how we – and even the world -- remember these events."

awards & accolades

  • Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival - Special Jury Award for Documentary Research
  • Hamptons International Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Documentary

Festival participation

  • Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival, China 2007
  • Adelaide Film Festival, Australia 2005
  • Cleveland International Film Festival, USA 2005
  • Iceland International Film Festival 2005
  • Warsaw International Jewish Film Festival, Poland 2005
  • Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival, China 2005
  • Tribeca Film Festival, USA 2004
  • Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival 2004
  • Hamptons International Film Festival 2004
  • Newport International Film Festival, USA 2004
  • San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, USA 2004

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Additional Info

Production Company: Daniel Anker Productions
Distribution Company: Films Transit

Imaginary Witness

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