Claude Lanzmann directed this 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since though only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing by asking for the most minute details is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects themselves show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive in well in many people that still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

Hailed as a masterpiece by many critics upon reception, Shoah was described in the New York Times as "an epic film about the greatest evil of modern times."In 1985, when the movie was released Roger Ebert described it as "an extraordinary film. It is not a documentary, not journalism, not propaganda, not political. It is an act of witness."Gene Siskel later named it as his choice for the Best Movie of the Year. Robert Ebert actually declined to rank Shoah entirely on the basis that it belonged in a class unto itself and no film should be ranked against it.
In 1985, Shoah won Best Documentary and Special Award at the New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, respectively.The following year, Shoah, also won Best Documentary at the National Society of Film Critics Awards and International Documentary Association. Shoah has also been nominated and awarded various other awards at film festivals around the world.

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