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PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

VITA ACTIVA:
THE SPIRIT OF HANNAH ARENDT

1:00   7:40

Final Day - Tuesday, May 10

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ADA USHPIZ
PRODUCED BY ADA USHPIZ AND INA FICHMAN

Forty years after her death, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), one of the 20th century’s most brilliant and influential philosophers, remains a figure of fierce controversy. A German Jew who fled Europe for New York in 1941, she was the author of The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), The Human Condition (1958), Men in Dark Times (1968) and other studies of history, violence, anti-Semitism, revolution, and power. But none were more provocative than Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) in which she coined the phrase, “the banality of evil,” to describe how a man as seemingly insignificant as Eichmann could be responsible for mass murder. Arendt was pilloried for her criticism of some Jewish leaders (especially Chaim Rumkowski) and criticized for a love affair with her professor, Martin Heidegger, a Nazi supporter. In this no-holds-barred documentary, Ada Ushpiz lets Arendt’s critics have their say, but she also features the woman herself, most dramatically, in a 1964 interview for German television in which she shares fascinating insights into Eichmann: “His inability to speak was connected to his inability to think.” Rarely has an intellectual, even one as public in her pronouncements as Arendt, incited so much anger, praise, devotion, and scorn. 

Presented with generous support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund for Jewish and Holocaust Film.

ISRAEL / CANADA • 2015 • 132 MINS. • IN ENGLISH, HEBREW, GERMAN, AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES • ZEITGEIST FILMS

Reviews

“CRITIC’S PICK. A vigorous and thoughtful new documentary… a broad and rich portrait of an intellectual... VITA ACTIVA, while it will surely satisfy and provoke students of 20th century intellectual history, feels more urgent than most documentaries of its kind… (and) includes some especially chilling implications for the current state of American politics.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Click here to read the full review.

“Impressively researched. Succeeds in putting the most PROVOCATIVE, SALIENT, and DAMNING aspects of Arendt’s work into a lucid context.”
– Michelle Orange, Village Voice

“A MASTERPIECE of documentary filmmaking that delves deep.” 
– Ha’aretz

“An EXCEPTIONALLY RICH, PROVOCATIVE, AND CLARIFYING documentary. FASCINATING AND COMPLEX. Filmmaker Ada Ushpiz does a WONDROUS job.”
– Doris Toumarkine, Film Journal International

“OUTSTANDING. Wonderfully well done. Fluid and rich. This is heady stuff.”
– Isa Freeling, Huffington Post