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Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe asks one of the big questions of our time


Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe asks one of the big questions of our time. Zweig was looking for his answer to “the most simple and vital question of all: a peaceful co-existence in today’s world, despite all our differences of race, class and religion.”

The Austrian-Jewish writer was one of the great international authors of the 1930s. When Europe began to self-destruct, he saved himself through exile.

The movie opens at a PEN conference in Buenos Aires where Zweig is treated as a star, a victim of the growing extremism in Europe. But Zweig refuses to denounce the rising Nazis.

In New York Zweig followed his conscience to help people escape from Europe. Ultimately, he convinced himself that he had found peaceful coexistence in Brazil.

Zweig never really stood up to Fascism. He just ran away. The film shows the progression of a great artist into isolation and emptiness. He knows better, but is hollowed out by his inaction.

Perhaps in the end, this failure is what destroyed the man and his reputation.

Farewell to Europe explores the theme of individual and collective responsibility for ignoring evil.

Does “America First” mean everyone else last (especially those who don’t fit the traditional blond, blue-eyed self-image of today’s American leadership)?

Do we accept what is happening or get engaged even if that is inconvenient? In our time of authoritarian extreme intolerance, what should we do and what happens to us? What solution will we choose?

Stefan Zweig in NYC

Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, Friday, May 12, 2017.

Maria Schrader’s film was the closing night selection at the New York Jewish Film Festival co-produced by the Jewish Museum and Film Society of Lincoln Center in January.

Image courtesy of Films Distribution