Why the world premiere of a new film about mass murder is being held in York
York has been chosen to host the world premiere of a film about mass murder and the people who got away with it.
The city was chosen as a place that has learned from an atrocity in its past and changed for the better.
Getting Away With Murder(s), a feature-length documentary by filmmaker David Nicholas Wilkinson was 18 years in the making – and will premiere on Thursday 9 September from 6.30pm at the Everyman Cinema on Blossom Street.
After the film former Lord Mayor of York Dave Taylor will host a Q&A with David about the film, which explores the ongoing scandal of the Holocaust.
Getting Away With Murder(s) reveals that almost one million people in 22 countries willingly carried out the unprovoked murder of 11 million innocent men, women and children.
But 99% of those responsible were never prosecuted – and most were never even questioned.
In recent years, York has had to come to terms with being the location of its own atrocity – when the city’s Jewish population were massacred at Clifford’s Tower in 1190.
The film premiere is being co-hosted by the York Liberal Jewish Community.
David explained why he had chosen York for the premiere.
“Normally with the films I make, the world premieres are either in London or at one of the prestigious film festivals such as Sundance or Edinburgh.
“I have thought long and hard about where to hold the important first screening of this film. As a Yorkshire man I have always felt singularly uneasy that my own county city was the setting for such a horrific crime.
“Therefore, it seemed appropriate and particularly fitting to me that the city of York should be where I launch this film. It is example of how a city and a Jewish community has and continues to move forward together.”
For many years Jews thought that because of what happened at Clifford’s Tower, there was a ‘herem’ or ban on Jews living in York. That was never the case and the relatively new York Liberal Jewish Community is flourishing.
Having just celebrated its seventh birthday and with about 100 members of all ages, YLJC is an active member in York Interfaith Group and regularly works with other local community and civic organisations.
YLJC is working with English Heritage and My Castle Gateway to achieve a new lasting legacy for the city’s history by seeking to influence the redevelopment plans of the car park at the base of Clifford’s Tower into a new public park.
The consultation plans include a small public plaza with a new memorial space to the 1190 massacre victims, yet to be detailed or funded.
Chair of York Liberal Jewish Community Lilian Coulson said: “When David approached us to discuss his film, we were amazed to be told about the extent of this ‘hidden’ part of all our history.
“On a personal level, coming from a Jewish family who had to flee Nazi Germany to survive and whose grandfather was one of many lawyers working at the Nuremburg Trials, I have always wondered why nothing was done earlier by the outside world to stop the genocide of 11 million people, including six million Jews.
“Or what happened subsequently to those people who implemented this genocide.
“I look forward to viewing David’s film at its world premiere in York to learn more about what has happened (or not) since the Nuremburg Trials finished 75 years ago.”
She said the YLJC, as York’s only formal Jewish community, “is delighted to welcome David and his film to this city and to help open doors to our friends here to promote his film to those who also wish to learn more about our more recent past.
“We are lucky to live in a city that positively tries to encourage good interfaith relationships and tolerance and actively stretches out a hand to those in need.”
In the making of Getting Away With Murder(s) David filmed in ten countries – and in York where he tells the still shocking story of how, in 1190, the city’s Jewish population “fled to the Castle to be besieged by an incited angry mob, and then committed mass suicide rather than wait to be killed or be forcibly baptised”.
David hopes that the film screening could launch a campaign to raise money for an improved memorial.
He said: “In the documentary, I filmed numerous reverential memorials to the murdered Jews, in Berlin, Vilnius, Kaunas, Liepaja, Günzburg, Dachau, Vienna and Auschwitz. The more locations I visited, the more I became convinced that York too should have its own deferential memorial to those Jews murdered in the city, no matter how long ago it took place.
“We hope that this will help in bringing about a successful outcome and that, after 831 years, the memory of those 150 people massacred in York will be respectfully and informatively remembered.”
The world premiere of Getting Away With Murder(s), followed by a Q & A with David Wilkinson, will be held at Everyman York, Blossom Street, York on Thursday 9 September, from 6.30pm – 10.30pm. Buy your tickets on the website here