The Forgiveness of Judith Malina
Directed By: Jeffrey Wengrofsky /
USA / 2019 / English
Documentary / Biography
Territory Rights: WORLD-WIDE
Exhibition Format: DCP
Option for Live Appearance: Q&A
Name of guest: Jeffrey Wengrofsky
Role of guest: Director
Original Title: The Forgiveness of Judith Malina
The Forgiveness of Judith Malina considers the ethics of forgiveness in the context of the Holocaust.The film features never-before-seen footage of late theater director Judith Malina with an original score by James Sclavunos of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
As director of The Living Theatre, Judith Malina (1926–2015) was a giant of the American avant-garde, and as an actor, she had roles in classic films like Dog Day Afternoon, The Addams Family, and Flaming Creatures as well as The Sopranos. Born to Jewish parents who escaped Nazi Germany, Malina formed The Living Theatre in 1946 and became an early, influential figure in the burgeoning postwar American counterculture.
Among the first performances of The Living Theatre was a faithful adaptation of a work by poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972). Just a few years prior, Pound had promoted fascism and hatred of Jews on Italian radio, yet Malina’s adaptation ignored his politics. The Forgiveness of Judith Malina asks why a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany would inaugurate an anarchist theater with the work of an artist who, only a few years earlier, supported regimes that sought world domination—including her own death. Even after the war, Pound did not recant. He was classified insane to avoid treason charges, published his Pisan Cantos, gave a fascist salute to reporters, and took a vow of silence in Italy.
In her final screen appearance, Judith Malina recalls an encounter she had with Pound in Italy during his vow of silence. Malina, the daughter of a Conservative rabbi, meditates on forgiveness, a central ethical tenet of Judaism, in reference to the Holocaust.
Original musical score by James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and Peter Mavrogeorgis (Twisty Cats).