64 Years ago today, April 11th, 1945, the US Army liberated the Buchenwald Concentration camp in Germany. 12 years ago, my grandfather, Anthony Cuoco passed on, and in the aftermath we discovered that he had been there. He never talked about it. We were never able to hear the details first hand, but through those pictures I began to dig and research, and the culmination of that research and his photos was my first short film, Inheritance.
The film was very much a labor of love, but much more than that I felt a responsibility to make sure this story was told. I had the tools, the training, the knowledge, and the proof.
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My friend and producer Jeff Loach and I poured our hearts and souls into making the film happen. Jeff as the amazing producer that he is, wouldn’t rest until we secured Harrison Young our first choice to play my Grandfather.
The film debuted April 9th 2005 at the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival, just two days prior to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald. The timing was not lost on me, and I felt there was more to it than serendipity. Harrison Young, passed away only a few short months later.
Recently, I have seen a spate of blog posts, you tube videos, and other hateful communications saying that these concentration camps never existed. That the holocaust was a massive conspiracy. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, even though my research had told me that 17% of American’s don’t believe this happened, it seems that worldwide those numbers are even greater. For a moment I felt like a failure. That despite my best efforts, we as human beings are doomed to repeat these horrible atrocities. In the news, I see examples of ethnic cleansing still happening today and I’m sick to my stomach.
Then I received an e-mail from a history teacher in Bradenton, FL. He had watched the film online on IMDB.com, and contacted me to get a copy of the film to show is students, telling me that, “It says more in less than 10 minutes than I could tell them myself in 90 minutes.” I remembered, that this wasn’t the first such request. I had received dozens over the years including a man from Italy who asked for a transcript since the online version had no subtitles. While others can post world-wide about how it never happened, I can still provide that much needed counter-point.
So today, on the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald, I am making the film available online for the first time in it’s full resolution via Vimeo.com. I will also be releasing the the film to the public on DVD in cooperation with Amazon.com, and will be donating all proceeds from the sale of these DVD’s to the American Veterans Association and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
I know many have you reading this have seen it previously at film festivals, personal screenings, and on-line, but I urge you to please watch it again, then pass it on. Share the links, forward the e-mails, talk about it with your kids. As I wrote in the film, “This can not happen again.”