Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch the trailer for a new Colorado film called Menschen, by Sarah R. Lotfi. Set in Austria during the last days of World War II, the film explores what it means to be human at a time when Hitler had determined that individuals with disabilities were "life unworthy of life". From the looks of the trailer, this short film may achieve something that few others have: stunning photography, amazing historical accuracy, and above all, a beautiful telling of an amazing story of human struggle. Here’s what Lotfi had to say about the film:
Kathryn Gould: Tell me everything you want people to know about the film itself, as well as how you found all the great costumes and settings that make this film look so great.
Sarah R Lotfi: Menschen is about what it means to be human across culture, race, and ability, that's what the title means in German: human beings. The film takes place in the last week of WWII and brings together an Austrian captain and a developmentally disabled boy, and a painful history comes to light.
Shot on a very low budget, Menschen worked with much of the WWII reenacting community to capture the authenticity and scope of the time. We shot the film entirely in Colorado over eight days in Idaho Springs, Longmont, Colorado Springs, Blackforest, and Greeley.
Filmmaking is such an integral journey; all our work really comes through in the end product. Beyond that it takes the community behind a film like this to take it on. We really need people to take an active part in endorsing the film from liking our facebook and Twitter pages, to backing our Indiegogo campaign to reposting. An independent film like Menschen needs a community behind it.
KG: What inspired you to tell this story?
SRL: I was looking for a unique perspective to explore, and I realized looking at the disabled community through the eyes of Austrians had not been tackled before. I imagined what I might have done had my brother and sister (who have Down Syndrome and Autism) lived in those times. Menschen's executive producer Robert Dassanowsky is a mentor of mine, and some of his family stories from the era are referenced in the film.
Read tomorrow’s article for more about Lotfi and her experience with Indiegogo.