Past Event16 Jul - 17 Jul 2016

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt

No longer available

The Civic


The German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt left her indelible imprint on 20th-century thought by coining the concept of the ‘banality of evil’ when reporting on the 1963 trial of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Directed by Israeli documentarian Ada Ushpiz, who has degrees in philosophy and history, this smart, spirited documentary illuminates that often abused idea. Ushpiz also draws a larger picture of Arendt’s often conflicted engagement with the defining phenomena of her era. Richly illustrated with rarely-seen historical footage, Vita Activa offers an intimate portrait of Arendt’s life and work – both deeply informed by the aftermath of World War I, the rise of Nazi Germany and its systematic elimination of European Jews. There are interviews with old friends and academic experts and extensive use of filmed interviews Arendt herself gave, as well as effective readings of excerpts from her essays and letters by actress Alison Darcy.

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt

Israel/Canada 2015

124 mins
Colour and B&W/DCP
In German, English and Hebrew, with English subtitles

Director/Screenplay: Ada Ushpiz

Producers: Ina Fichman, Ada Ushpiz

Photography: Itai Neeman, German Gutierrez, Philippe Lavalette

Editor: Hadas Ayalon

Sound: Michel Lambert

Music: John Wilson

Festivals: Jerusalem, Amsterdam Documentary 2015

For tickets and details about films at other venues, please visit the New Zealand International Film Festival website.

There are moments in Vita Activa, an urgent and often startling documentary from Israeli director Ada Ushpiz, where I could feel her trying to reach across the decades and talk to us.
— Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Watch the trailer

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