What If a Girl in the Holocaust Had Instagram?
Here in Israel, billboards have appeared on the Ayalon Highway advertising something called Eva Stories.
The trailer has now just dropped on Instagram.
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The Eva.Stories project, led by high-tech and media man Mati Kochavi, will provide an opportunity to experience the true story of a Jewish girl who lived through the Holocaust through stories. Millions around the world will be able to follow and experience the life of Eva Hayman during World War II, until her deportation to the Auschwitz death camp together with her grandparents.
“Only 2.7% of the discourse about the Holocaust in Europe and the United States comes from young people – a very significant decline compared to previous generations,” says Mati Kochavi, who initiated, wrote, and directed the project as a whole together with his daughter Maya Kochavi. “In the digital era when the attention threshold drops and the excitement threshold rises, and against the background of the ever-diminishing number of survivors, there’s a tremendous need to find new models of testimony and memory. Instagram is a narrative platform and like any media and content platform, it’s possible to tell a story that’s both deep and superficial. The idea of the project is to use the social networks to create a new genre of memory, and we hope that through it we can bring viewers closer to Eva’s life and to the depths of her soul.”
The special project is based on a personal diary left behind by Eva, which was worked into a screenplay and produced with a team of about 400 production people, actors, and extras who reconstructed the girl’s life. Shooting the Instagram film was held in Lvov, Ukraine, for which commando vehicles, trucks, tanks, motorcycles from the period, old train cars, and trained dogs were brought, along with hundreds of pieces of art, costumes, weapons, and military uniforms from warehouses and private collections.
For 24 hours, starting at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, May 1, Eva’s Instagram page will feature dozens of video clips, stills, and various text fragments, through which every hour she exposes events that occurred in her life for the last months. From acquaintance with her family and friends, through the Nazi invasion of her city, the racial and ethnic laws, being uprooted from their home and moved to the ghetto, to the tremendous upheavals she experienced until she boarded the train to Auschwitz.
“The stories turn Eva from a nameless person into a dynamic and tangible figure that tells her life story and what’s going on around her, just as millions of young people around the world today document their daily lives,” said Maya Kochavi. “We’ve fallen in love with Eva, we read, researched, and studied her diary and her life for a long time and wondered how she would have told her story if she had in her hands the camera she so wanted. We hope that through the project we can understand and convey her experiences and feelings from her personal and intimate point of view, and thus also to illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust in a way that evokes identification and deep understanding.”
This is causing somewhat of a controversy, with some people thinking it is not respectful towards Holocaust victims. I would disagree. This is a creative way to try and reach and appeal to the Instagram generation. From my point of view, the benefits clearly outweigh any risk of this being perceived as disrespectful.
You may recall earlier this year, I posted another daring initiative with a similar purpose. The stakes are too high not to try these things.