My Family, The Holocaust and Me, with Robert Rinder

Chiswick based documentary maker Andrea Carnevali has been working for months on the story of TV personality Robert Rinder’s family, many of whom were murdered in the Holocaust, The two part documentary airs on BBC One at 9.00pm on Monday 9 and Monday 16 November. It came out of the TV barrister’s experience with Andrea filming the popular BBC programme Who do you think you are? Once he started finding out about his family’s past, there were just so many stories to be told.

“I spent weeks working on this and right until the last day I pretty much cried every day… in fact the hardest thing was to try to inject a little bit of “light” in the tragic darkness” Andrea told The Chiswick Calendar.

Robert Rinder’s maternal grandfather survived the Holocaust and settled in the UK, in the Lake District. In the two programmes Robert finds out more about his own family but also helps several other descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors find out about their own families.

“It is not an easy watch” says Andrea, who was the programmes’ editor, “it wasn’t easy to work on it, but these stories must be told… Always. Our kids should not grow up not knowing. We can’t afford to forget. And I’m not just talking about the big headlines in bold strokes: when you say “millions died in the holocaust” it’s unthinkable of course, but it’s hard to grasp such a huge number. But when you hear the individual stories, that’s when I think it really hit you and it touches your heart: these “millions” were mothers, fathers, sisters, uncles… with lives, families, dreams, loved ones.

“We had hours and hours of material and we could have made five parts. So the hardest thing as a film maker was to was to narrow it all down to two hours without losing the essence of it, without trivialising it or make it simplistic, still paying respect to the victims and their families without “wallowing” (for lack of a better term) in the horror of these stories. Hopefully people will watch it and understand why it’s still important to tell these about the holocaust, even in just two hours of TV”.

Images above: Andrea Carnevalli in his edit suite 

The Guardian gives it a five star review:

‘Rinder is a wonderful host and an enthusiastic interviewer, which must stem in part from his legal training. He is skilled at asking the right question at the right time and getting to the heart of a story. In one of the many incredibly moving segments in this first episode, he visits Voranava in Belarus, the site of a massacre of 1,800 Jews in May 1942. He meets an old woman there who witnessed what happened; she tells him, with increasing strain, her recollections of the horrific event. Rinder kisses her on the cheek and thanks her for telling the story, insisting, through tears, that it is important for her to have done so, in order for the world to hear about it’.

Andrea went with Robert to film Who do you think you are? Not really knowing anything about him before that, he says he now has great respect for him:

“None of it was scripted .His monologue at the end of this first episode, in front of a mass grave was all improvised on the spot in one take. He arrived there and said “I just don’t know what to say” Indeed what can you say in front of such a stark manifestation of evil? Within a few minutes he broke down in tears, delivering a beautiful heart-felt speech which left the whole crew speechless”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Coronavirus lockdown in Italy – video by Andrea Carnevali

See also: Chiswick editor in Bafta winning team

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