New Documentary: "Shadows - when the past rules the present" – University of Copenhagen

English > Events > 2017 > New Documentary: "Shad...

New Documentary: "Shadows - when the past rules the present"


We all know about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the settlements and the long occupation. But do we understand the obstacles to peace? The documentary film, Shadows - when the past rules the present, raises the controversial question: “Is the legacy of Holocaust the stumbling block of peace, and can the traumas of the past be broken?”

For two years the film director has followed four leading members of the Israeli peace movement, while racism has grown, peace failed and the gap between us and them widened.

The documentary offers unexpected insights: An influential rabbi builds bridges to Muslims and Jihadists. A former prominent politician who turned his back to power is now, as a debator, working for peace. A historian calls the government's Holocaust teaching “pure pornography,” and a psychiatry professor reveals the abuse of hidden and inherited traumas in society.

These positions, which we rarely hear about in the media, are gradually changed during the documentary, as peace again collapses. Shadows of the past take over, and step by step we see the four main characters facing a reality they can’t control.

It is a view of people caught by fear and doubt. A controversial and universal story about the stumbling blocks of the past and their influence in the present.

The four characters

- Michael Melchior, rabbi and former Cabinet Minister, a leading negotiator in interfaith dialogue between Jews and Arabs, known for his open dialogue with Jihadists. Melchior is a leading advocate both for social justice in Israel and towards a more tolerant Judaism. He believes it is the plan of God, which has brought the Palestinians and the Jews to the same land, which they in his opinion are chosen to share.

- Avraham Burg is born into politics as a son of one of Israel's founding fathers and today a disputed political writer and social activist in the country. Burg had a very active political career and strong relations to Jewish values as both a former member and speaker of Knesset and appointed Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. He is now a strong critic of the Israeli occupation, of the erosion of democracy and the role of fear in Jewish everyday life, not least of the abuse of victimhood throughout centuries.

- Yoram Barak is a Professor of Psychiatry and specialist in Holocaust trauma. He has in-depth knowledge about the trauma and how it is inherited and transferred throughout generations. A ”poisonous legacy” abused by Israeli governments in order to keep the Jewish people in the traumatic past. A dark heritage, which in his opinion is difficult to break and escape. Barak's ability to analyze the consequences in society is almost desperately clear, although with humor in the beginning. But after the Gaza war and an election even more hostile to peace than before, Barak sees no more hope and no more compassion in the Israeli society.

- Hanna Yablonka is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at Ben-Gurion University. A controversial historian known for her outspoken criticism on Holocaust education, which she calls ”pure Holocaust pornography.” Hanna is deeply related to the heritage of the Holocaust through her parents, both of them survivors from Auschwitz. Despite her rejection of victimhood, Hanna was caught by the waves of anti-Semitism after the Gaza war. Suddenly the impact of a traumatic heritage was clear. Hanna expresses a deep concern for the future of her grown-up children in Israel.

Film director, producer and writer Anne Gyrithe Bonne will present her new documentary. See

See trailer:

Participation is free, but online registration required by March 30, 2017