VI premiere of documentary Erbarme Dich
In November, I was returning to Victoria from the Netherlands where I had been part of an amazing and emotional ceremony honouring the family that rescued my mother, the sole survivor of her family, during the Holocaust. On my flight over the Atlantic, I noticed a documentary, Erbarme dich - Matthäus Passion Stories, on the menu of choices of videos, and being a great fan of J.S. Bach's extraordinary St. Matthew's Passion, I watched it.
Even thought he film was in Dutch (and my Dutch is very very basic), the power of what I saw in these stories based on the Bach St. Matthew's Passion moved me deeply. A choir of the homeless in Amsterdam figures in the film, as do an abandoned Amsterdam church, world-class musicians, a conductor and opera director, a dancer, a painter and more; all are part of this acclaimed documentary.
The movie connected the joy and pain of what I had just experienced in the Netherlands with the joy and pain recounted by people in the film around their experience of the St. Matthew Passion. The movie also asked me to consider my feelings about Bach's work as his earlier St. John's Passion has what Jews consider to be highly inflammatory and anti-Semitic texts and the Matthew Passion also has difficult passages for Jewish ears to hear. What does someone do when confronting great art with messages that have been used to hurt people over centuries?
On my return, I purchased the film and now have permission from the producers to offer a single showing without royalty payment, for which I am very grateful. As it seemed appropriate to show the film close to Easter, I contacted Canon Ken Gray, Rector of the Church of the Advent in Colwood who enthusiastically agreed to participate in the showing a week prior to Easter. My wonderful colleagues, Erich Schellhammer and Michael Young, also agreed to participate and after the movie screening, the four of us will take 5 minutes each to provoke discussion among the audience.
I invite you to attend this event at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 21st at the Church of the Advent in Colwood: there is no admission, and you will be moved by the film, regardless of your religious background.