Remarks by Ms. Kim Simon, Director of International Programs and Communications,
USC Shoah Foundation Institute, at the screening of
"I Only Wanted To Live"
Good evening Excellencies, ladies, and gentleman. I am honored to join you on this special occasion of the screening of the documentary Volevo solo vivere (I Only Wanted to Live).
On behalf of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, I would like to express our gratitude to Raymond Sommeryns, Kimberly Mann, and the staff at the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme for organizing this event. Thank you also to Mr. Stefano Gatti for your words.
Steven Spielberg has often said that the experience of making Schindler’s List changed his life, and the establishment of the Shoah Foundation is his most important work. He wanted to record, preserve, and educate with these personal accounts, because he knew they would not only tell us about the past, but more importantly, help us and our children to shape the future.
The archive of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education contains nearly 52,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses from 56 countries and in 32 languages. The testimonies were recorded on videotape between 1994 and 2000 by dedicated volunteers in many countries. Over the subsequent years, the testimonies were catalogued, indexed, and digitized, and are now available at universities and other locations in 40 countries.
More than 60 years have passed since the Holocaust began. The number of survivors and witnesses still with us dwindles every day. Through the work of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and films like the one you are about to see, survivors and other witnesses have left their personal stories behind for us to carry on to this and future generations.
I Only Wanted to Live first premiered one year ago in Rome and subsequently screened at the Cannes Film Festival and other festivals around the world. This last Saturday night, the film broadcast on the Italian premiere channel Rai Uno, to millions of people throughout Italy.
This film was directed by Mimmo Calopresti, a beloved and renowned film director who has been making documentary and feature films for more than 20 years. Mimmo Calopresti made this film by viewing and choosing from more than 400 Italian testimonies conducted by the Shoah Foundation Institute. In I Only Wanted to Live, he weaves together, almost entirely through visual history testimony and some archival footage and photographs, a devastating picture of deportation of Italian citizens to Auschwitz.
Tonight, you will hear from nine Italian individuals who speak from their own perspectives: Andra Bucci, Esterina Calo di Veroli, Nedo Fiano, Luciana Nissim Momigliano, Liliana Segre, Settimia Spizzichino, Giuliana Tedeschi, Shlomo Venezia, and Arminio Wachsberger. Mimmo Calopresti said about working on this film, “In my films, I sometimes presume that I can tell other people’s stories for them. This time, I decided just to listen, to have the strength not to walk away when hearing certain stories became too difficult.”
Thank you for listening.