Heartland Shorts 2018 Highlights: 'The Driver is Red'
Adolf Eichmann was one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, helping to organize the process of detaining Jewish people in ghettos and later supervising the transportation of many to concentration camps. Though not as widely known as Josef Mengele, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler or even perhaps Leni Riefenstahl, Eichmann was directly responsible for making the Nazi regime such an effective agent of genocide.
When he was brought to trial for his role in the Holocaust, he claimed that he was only following orders. He presented himself as a dispassionate bureaucrat who only wanted to do his job. This inspired people to write about the “banality of evil.” Though this film is about Adolf Eichmann, it’s anything but banal.
True crime’s finest spy
The film is told from the first-person perspective of the lead Israeli secret agent, Zvi Aharoni, who tracked Eichmann who was then living under the false name “Ricardo Klement” in Argentina over 15 years after the end of the Second World War. Aharoni describes the final days of his search, the plans that were made to capture Eichmann, and how that plan was executed, all while the artwork of writer and director Randall Christopher flows across the screen in a bold, sketchy fashion.
Though there is not much written about Aharoni, Christopher spent months engrossed in research about the man before starting his film. Knowing that the film was based on the interviews and rare first-hand accounts of the operation given by Aharoni before his death in 2012 makes all of these elements that much more dramatic.
Better than Bond
The sequence of events is presented with all of the tension and suspense of the best of James Bond’s exploits. This true crime story has many of the tropes of Hollywood’s most famous spy thrillers: secrets, false identities, stakeouts, car chases, smuggling, and world-altering stakes. Above all is the most fascinating aspect of Zvi Aharoni’s story: revenge. Growing up in a large, Jewish family, Aharoni was a patriotic German. However, the Nazis killing the Jews of Germany, including many of Aharoni’s family made his cultural connection to Beethoven and Brahms strained. Capturing the architect of the Holocaust was not just his duty as a German-born patriot upholding the just values of his country though; it was a pursuit to avenge his family who were murdered by the system Eichmann created.
Because Nazi hunting is relevant now
Over the span of two years, a Randall Christopher went from Googling “Adolf Eichmann” to presenting his film on Eichmann at Sundance film festival. Two years spent researching, drawing, and writing in his spare time. The story of the creation of The Driver is Red and the life of Zvi Aharoni both show how much can be done by highly motivated individuals. During the Q&A session after the film’s screening, Randall Christopher reminded the crowd that Less than a year ago, Nazis were marching in the streets of the United States, underscoring the need for films like this to be seen and for stories like Aharoni’s to be celebrated.
The Driver is Red is a compelling film in every way. The amazing story of a German Jew hunting down the architect of the Holocaust is complemented by the fantastic characterization provided by voice actor Mark Pinter and the kinetically charged animation of Randall Christopher.
The film will be hosted online for the ShortList, The Wrap’s short film film festival from August 8 to the 22nd.
Video: Editing by Phil Akin and Emily Reuben, Camera and Reporting by Jeremy Rogers
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