Helen Mirren tells the story of Anne Frank’s life in the documentary Anne Frank: Parallel Stories, in a documentary that is dedicated to her memory and has been created to tell the story of her life to mark what would have been her 90th birthday.
What would Anne Frank’s life have been like had she survived the days at Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen? What would have happened to the hopes and dreams she wrote about in her diary? What would her talented voice have told us about evil, about Auschwitz, about the death marches and about Bergen Belsen? And what makes her, still today, a friend for millions of teenagers who identify with her youth, her suffering and her fears?
Off “set”, a young girl, Martina Gatti, leads us on a journey that visits the places that were part of Anne Frank’s short life and her feelings. Her role as a silent witness, talking to her peers using social media as a communication tool, comes from the need to place the tragedies of the past in relation to the present, to understand what could be an antidote today against all forms of racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. It is through Anne‘s curiosity and her desire not to remain indifferent that we realise how contemporary her words are and how powerful the voices of those who can still tell their story.
Anne’s story is intertwined with that of five Holocaust survivors, Arianna Szörenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci. Once teenage girls just like Anne, with the same ideals, the same desire to live, the same courage. Like Anne, they too suffered persecution and deportation when they were very young. They were denied the carefree light-heartedness of their youth; they lost their families, friends and loved ones in the concentration camps. These stories of the survivors of the Holocaust put words on the blank pages of Anne’s diary, as it fell silent when everyone in the secret refuge in Amsterdam was arrested on August 4th, 1944.
Their testimonies, alternating with those of their children and grandchildren, convey the memory of all the evil they had to live through in the concentration camps, the strength of adolescence in the face of the Nazi oppressors and their cruelty, the return to a normal life and the will to pass on the memory of what happened to new generations.