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The Labyrinth of Auschwitz won The Best Documentary in Spirituality Section of the 2012 Dhaka International Film Festival (Bangladesh) and the SIGNIS Interfaith Award

labyBy: Valerie Milano

Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/6/12 – “I built Auschwitz…because I arrived on the first transport.” With these foreboding words, Polish artist Marian Kolodziej, Auschwitz prisoner number 432, takes viewers on his half-century journey from repentance to redemption in award-winning independent filmmaker Jason A. Schmidt’s new short documentary, The Labyrinth. Filmed on location in Poland, this subtle and remarkable film takes us on a deep and winding journey into the extraordinary pen and ink drawings of Holocaust survivor Marian Kolodziej, who entered Auschwitz on June 14, 1940on the very first prisoner transport as a 17 year-old member of the Polish Underground Movement.  Filmmaker Jason Schmidt told Hollywood Today: “Once I saw footage of Mr. Kolodziej’s artwork in a documentary I previously edited, I knew I needed to make a film about his artwork, his life and The Labyrinth. My goal was to immerse the audience in The Labyrinth and ultimately they would walk out of the theater as enriched in spirit, as I was, after ‘experiencing’ The Labyrinth. We shot for a total of 8 days in The Labyrinth on two separate trips. Marian kept adding new drawings every month. One major challenge in editing was selecting the drawings to use, since there are probably over 300 total drawings in the Labyrinth. All of them were compelling and there was a story behind each one.”  Using quiet narration, the artist’s own words, and a compassionate, slowly moving camera, we are taken on an unforgettable journey into the human heart, its darkest, most complex aspects as well as its most redemptive and loving features. An Oscar-worthy documentary film, The Labyrinth explores the many caverns and catacombs of a man’s art, immersing the viewer into a personal journey of horror and redemption– it is nothing less than a profound meditation on what it is to be human, the full spectrum, from the darkest of humanity’s suffering into the light of hope and the salvation of faith. Kolodziej survived not only the horrors of Auschwitz, but those of Buchenwald and Gross-Rosen to spend the next 50 years as an acclaimed scenic designer in his native Poland. It was only after suffering a debilitating stroke in 1993 that he took up pen and ink to relive the ashes and the apocalypse of World War II’s most notorious death camp. This remarkable film demonstrates one man’s resilience in the face of unspeakable terrors. Filmmaker Jason A. Schmidt, who also co-produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary short Franz Jägerstätter: A Man of Conscience, trusts both his material and his audience. Wearing multiple hats as director/writer/editor/producer, Schmidt has an unerring sense of mood and momentum, letting both Kolodziej’s words and the drawings cry out their truth to audiences of a new millennium. The Labyrinthalso represents the collaborative efforts of a Hollywood filmmaking dynasty, The Schmidts, who grew up here in Hollywood: Academy Award-winning film editor Arthur Schmidt is executive producer; Ron Schmidt, SJ is producer, and Gregory J. Schmidt, SOC is Director of Photography. Their father, Arthur P. Schmidt was an Oscar-nominated editor for Sunset Blvd. and Sayonara and also edited Some Like It Hot and Sabrina, among many other films. Jason A. Schmidt is a gifted and talented director who takes the family’s exceptional filmmaking gifts into the 3rd generation. The Labyrinth, which takes its name from the maze-like cavern in the basement of a Catholic Church which houses over 300 of Koloziej’s drawings, is an unforgettable journey of the soul of an artist.  In June 2011, the film won the Best Short Documentary at the Ventura Film Festival.  Selected as one of “2012 Notable Videos for Adults” by the American Library Association. Upcoming screenings: Feb. 19, 5:30PM, Los Angeles Bethel Lutheran Church, 17500 Burbank Blvd, Encino, CA. Co-sponsored by Temple Makom oh Shalom. March 30, 1 PM, San Francisco University of San Francisco, 10th Annual Human Rights Film Festival, Presentation Theater, 2350 Turk Blvd. at Masonic. For additional information: www.usfca.edu/artsci/hrff/program/

“To view the trailer and order the DVD go to www.thelabyrinthdocumentary.com