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Searching for Victor “Young” Perez: The Boxer of Auschwitz

2017
Distributed by epf media, 324 S. Beverly Drive, PMB 437, Beverly Hills, CA 90212; 310-839-1500
Produced by Laurent Preece and Sophie Nahum for Hello Productions
Directed by Sophie Nahum
DVD , color, 64 min.
High School - General Adult
Jewish Holocaust, Sports and World War II


Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 1/2/2018

Tomer Sisley, a French actor, comedian and screenwriter, became obsessed with discovering more about nearly forgotten boxer Victor “Young” Perez, the youngest world champion boxer. As Sisley learned more about Perez, he decided to write a screenplay for a film of Perez’s life and to portray Perez in that film. This documentary is about Sisley’s research for the screenplay.

Perez was a Jew from the ghettos of Tunis who won the world bantamweight championship in 1931. Young and naïve, Perez gave away most of his money to friends, and spent the rest on high living, women, and an American convertible. Sisley’s research lead him to Tunis find the location of Perez’s gym, to Paris, Auschwitz, and Israel to interview Holocaust survivors Charles Palant, Jacques Altmann, and Noah Klieger, who were with Perez in the concentration camps. In partial answer to the question “what will happen when no one any longer remembers?” Sisley has an encounter with his daughters and Altmann filmed to ensure the daughters will be able to view the film after Altmann is gone and not forget him.

Of the 1000 Jews transported with Perez and Palant to Auschwitz in 1943, only 260 went on to concentration camps, 740 were never seen again. Of the Jews who went to Auschwitz, 97 percent died there. At the time of filming, only one Jew who boxed with Perez at Auschwitz was still alive (Klieger). An extraordinary aspect of this film is Sisley’s VIP access to Auschwitz and the remains of other camps in that area. The horrors of the Auschwitz experience are brought alive through museum facilities and artifacts, an SS guard’s photos, and Jacques Altmann’s memories of arrival, processing, tenuous survival in the camp, and on the “death march” to Gliewitz. Always doing what he could for others, “Young” Perez was shot down as he tried to distribute bread to his fellow prisoners on the “death march.” Though the dialogue is in French and the English subtitles are sometimes lost on a non-contrasting background, The Boxer of Auschwitz is highly recommended to general audiences. Sisley’s screen play is finished, and viewers will certainly wish him success in keeping the memory of “Young” Perez alive through a future film.

Awards

  • Audience award, International Current Affairs and Social Documentary Film Festival (FIGRA) 2016.