With ‘KZ’, Rex Bloomstein achieves the impressive feat of not merely memorialising the holocaust, but probing the complex, discomfiting hold it continues to have on the now. Shot in the small Upper Austrian town of Mauthausen and the concentration camp (or KZ) for which it is notorious, the film eschews historical facts and figures for an emotional yet unsentimental psychogeographical tour of the place and those in its shadow. The most prominent figures are tour guides, including a veteran whose conscientious obsession with the job has contributed to depression and alcoholism, and his younger colleagues, volunteers doing their national service and themselves grandchildren of Nazis. But we also meet the inhabitants of a town that owes its economy to the KZ, from an old woman who fondly recalls her wedding to an SS officer at the camp registry office to the young Bavarians who have happily moved to this ‘perfect dream’ of a neighbourhood. There are numerous comische (absurd or grotesque) touches, like the ‘McDonald’s Mauthausen’ sign, and a pervasive sense of uncanniness. But overall it’s an aptly draining experience, characterised by Bloomstein’s habit of leaving the camera to look, unblinking, at his subjects after they’ve finished speaking. Words aren’t sufficient.
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