January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as was designated by the UN General Assembly on 2005. The date chosen is the Auschwitz-Birkenau (largest Nazi death camp, located in Poland) liberation day on 1945, by Soviet
On 1991, Leonard Nimoy starred in the film Never Forget. The film tells the true story of Mel Mermelstein, who was born in Hungary on 1926. Mermelstein survived Auschwitz concentration camp, where he lost his entire family.
The film does not depict the Holocaust period itself, but the beginning of the 80s at the USA. A Holocaust deniers' organization called The Institute for Historical Review promised $50,000 to those who prove that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz. Mermelstein was in contact with that institute, which led to a lawsuit where he fought for the truth. The film shows his and his family's difficulties and doubts, and the fear of loss. The loss that won't be his alone.
The title at the beginning of the film tells:
"This film is based on events culminating in the lawsuit entitled Mel Mermelstein v. Institute For Historical Review, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court case no.C356 542. While certain scenes are adapted from incidents in the lives of the Mermelstein family and other individuals, all legal proceedings portrayed are based on actual transcripts and documents."
Leonard Nimoy talked about Never Forget on this interview, starting at about 15:15.
Duet introduces the story of a Cardassian named Aamin Marritza, who arrives at DS9 and is immediately suspected as a war criminal. Major Kira has to deal with his presence and the allegations. As always, Star Trek raises many dilemmas and ethical questions, and that episode might be one of the most serious in doing so.
DS9's Duet is partially based on the book-play-film The Man in the Glass Booth, which tells the story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor living in New York and is suspected to be a fugitive Nazi criminal. Eventually, it turns out the man faked his dental records in order to stand for a trial. After being exposed he collapses and dies.
DS9 gave this story a different angle. It's not a good guy that changes his identity but a bad guy, a Cardassian. But still, the purpose is to stand trial. Marritza's motive is to achieve atonement for Cardassia's acts, not just his own. In addition he has hopes that a trial and a verdict will bring an acknowledgment by the Cardassians for what they did. This could bring reconciliation with Bajor.
Christopher Andrews created on 2008-2009 a unique production called Duet. It's an internet series of 14 short webisodes, total length 45 minutes approx. Andrews wrote, adapted, directed and participated too. Andrews' Duet is based both on DS9's episode and The Man in the Glass Booth. He used the DS9 plot and put it in post-WWII Germany, a decade after the war ended. The two main characters are a Jewish ex-partisan investigator and a German war criminal suspect. The fact that the imposter is German and not Jewish as in Glass Booth, makes the whole difference.
Most of Marritza and Kira's dialogues or monologues were put completely in the new Duet, the historical setting was changed to fit post WWII relationships between USA and USSR at the German arena.
The production had no set and was all shot with green screen.
Following is the first episode, the complete production will be embedded at the end. There's also a BTS webisode.
Here are some Q&A with Christopher Andrews:
Who thought about this transformation?
"Duet" was my idea, with the encouragement and support of my wife. It was originally
intended to be a stage play, but my wife and I decided to produce it as a web-series in May, 2008.
Where did the idea come from?
When I first saw the DS9 episode, I immediately wanted to perform it as a stage play, except using Nazis and Jews. At the time, however, I was primarily into film acting, so
this just floated around in the back of my mind for the next decade.
In 2003, I returned to live theatre, and my interest in adapting "Duet" reignited. It was
around this time that I learned that the original inspiration for the DS9 episode came from the play "The Man in the Glass Booth", and thought it might be simpler to just look into doing that play.
When I actually read "Glass Booth," however, I found it to be overlong and sluggish, and I very much preferred the DS9 version of the story – DS9 told in 50 minutes what "Glass
Booth" took over 2 hours to tell. So … I returned to the idea of adapting it myself and producing it as a fan-project.
I spent the next 5 years shopping it around various local theatres. The problem was, I wanted a very small, intimate theatre for the performance, and the only stages that showed real interest were larger venues.
By 2008, my wife and I had produced two short-films based on a pair of my published short-stories, and we were ready to do another project. One thing led to another, and "Duet" the stage play was transformed into "Duet" the web-series.
Were all dialogs taken from DS9, besides necessary changes?
Not all of it, but most, yes. Though I was caught a little off-guard when I later watched the DS9 episode again.
I adapted the story into the stage play in 2003/2004, and later adapted it from the stage play to the web-series in 2008. I had *thought* that I'd taken most of the script word-for-word (besides necessary changes), but when I eventually re-watched the first scene where Kira confronts the Cardassian in the brig, I found that there were actually *more* differences than I had remembered! Small differences, to be sure, but more than I had recalled.
The DS9 episode's contribution to the project is apparent, but you also credit "The Man in the Glass Booth". Can you tell what did "Booth" contributed, in opposed to DS9's Duet?
The only element that I drew from "The Man in the Glass Booth" was the original theme, which involved post-WWII Nazis and Jews, and a man whose identity is in question.
As I mentioned above, "Glass Booth" was reportedly the inspiration for the DS9 episode, whereas the DS9 episode was *my* inspiration.
What were the major problems you've encountered while transforming the sci-fi story to "reality"?
I actually found the transformation quite easy (which is no surprise, given the original "Glass Booth" roots). I had to invent a fictitious-but-realistic-sounding disease for Johann Schmidt to have, of course. Basing it on the horrid Zyklon-B gas seemed like a natural source to use. I also had to create the photograph that "identifies" Johann as the Standartenfuehrer, in place of the Cardassian records used in the DS9 episode.
We also needed period sets with a 1950's-feel, but utilizing the green screen and CGI helped us get around this challenge.
Did you ask the actors to watch the original episode, to get something from those characters and atmosphere, or did you think the new script is enough?
I actually asked the actors *not* to watch the original DS9 episode until after we were done filming, as I wanted their performances to be as original as possible rather than imitations (I personally never re-watched the episode after adapting the script, so it had been 5+ years since I'd seen it myself).
Also, you may note that the cast for my "Duet" is smaller than the DS9 cast. There are times, for example, when the character of Stephen James "represents" Odo, but at other times he represents Commander Sisko – I wanted Stephen James to be his *own* character, who just happens to find himself in the same situation as the DS9 character(s).
When it came to atmosphere, I told the cast to think in terms of "Schindler's List"-meets-"Silence of the Lambs."
Were there scenes or characters in the original story that you wanted to put in the new one, but you didn't?
Not really. As mentioned above, I combined some of the DS9 characters or situations to make the web-series cast more streamlined. But otherwise, I was very "loyal" to the DS9
execution, while borrowing just the main themes of "The Man in the Glass Booth."
What response did you get about Duet?
For the most part, people seemed to have liked it very much, with only a couple of
critics – the very first feedback we received for Episode One was negative, which was disappointing, but it was then overturned by several positive comments, with one of the positive viewers directly disagreeing with the naysayer.
A number of people also emailed me directly rather than posting comments on YouTube, and all of these viewers had good things to say.
How long was the shoot, and how long was the post-production?
We filmed from the end of June 2008 through the beginning of January 2009. Since we had a $0-budget, we could only film on Saturdays, and not every actor was available every Saturday. Using the green screen helped immensely, as we did not have to worry about building sets or securing locations.
Post-production lasted from January 2009 through May 2009. "Duet" debuted on YouTube on June 7, 2009.
Do the names chosen for the characters or places has any meaning?
In some cases, yes, though the "meanings" are often just sentimental. For the characters, "Kristina" is my wife's middle name (and now my daughter's middle name, too!), while "Bischoff" is my German mother-in-law's maiden name. "Stephen James" are the first & middle names of my late brother. And "Utsa" is the name of my mother-in-law's childhood friend.
Other names I used were the Kummer Camp, with "Kummer" meaning "sorrow," and Kristina's Freiheit resistance cell, with "Freiheit" meaning "Freedom."
Do you think of another Trek great episode you could use in a similar manner?
I have strongly considered doing an adaptation of the second half of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" two-parter, "Chain of Command," centered around Captain Picard's
torture by the Cardassian interrogator.
Torture has been a strong topic in America in recent years, both in reality, regarding U.S. treatment of terrorist prisoners, and in fiction, with Jack Bauer from the TV series "24"
torturing villains on an almost weekly basis.
However, I cannot even begin to guess at a time-table for this, now that we have a 4-month-old daughter. 🙂
Did you publish your project on Trek sites?
We did not. Since our adaptation steered *away* from the sci-fi genre, we were
uncertain how "hardcore" Star Trek fans would react to it. By posting it on YouTube and including such key words as "Star Trek," "Deep Space Nine," and so on, we hoped that both Trek fans and non-sci-fi fans would find it on their own terms.