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Artist and filmmaker Randall Christopher grew up with what he said was “zero knowledge” of the Holocaust — but once he started to learn about it, it led him straight to the animated short “The Driver Is Red,” one of the finalists in TheWrap’s 2018 ShortList Film Festival.
The film uses line drawings to tell the true story of a hunt for former Nazi officials who took international agents (led by Israel’s Mossad) to Argentina in 1960. It focuses on one key Nazi war criminal living under the name Ricardo Klement, and on the intricate plan to capture him.
“The hook was this guy who was found 15 years after the war on the other side of the world, but it led down a rabbit hole,” Christopher said. “I read an article about him and then started watching documentaries, but it was a gradual thing — I tell people that I was working on the film for almost two months before I realized I was making a film.”
“The Driver Is Red” includes information about the Treblinka extermination camp, which Christopher had known nothing about. The film’s style is dramatic but understated, consisting largely of black-and-white line drawings. “In this film, the drawings and the music are there to supplement the script,” he said. “More colorful, imaginative drawings might take you out of the story, so I wanted something that wouldn’t do that.”
And it is not lost on Christopher that his film is being seen at a time when nationalism and even neo-Naziism appears to be on the rise both in Europe and the United States.
“It is so crazy that I began this project in 2016, and in 2017 there were people marching on American soil with swastikas in Charlottesville,” he said, referring to the deadly rally of white supremacists last summer in the Virginia city.
“If I had seen that five years ago, I would have said, ‘That’s lame, those guys are bigots,'” he said. “But I see it now that I really know what that symbol means, and I’m completely speechless and dumbfounded and shocked. I can’t even fathom it. But here we are.”
Watch the film above. Viewers can also all of the ShortList finalists at any time during the festival at shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 8-22. The ShortList Film Festival is supported by Topic and AMC Theatres.