Meet Matthew Shoychet
“I want to help people and enlighten them in teaching lessons of the past. Without our history, people don’t get what it means to be Jewish.”
Is there a statute of limitations on genocide?
31-year old filmmaker Matthew Shoychet documented the 2015 trial of former Nazi SS guard and accountant, Oskar Gröning, for the murder of 300,000 Jews in 1944, in his feature film “The Accountant of Auschwitz.”
Matthew became involved in Holocaust education after going on the March of the Living Young Adult Trip in 2013, and again in 2015 as a chaperone for the Toronto high school contingent.
Upon hearing about the trial, Matthew, along with a friend from the March, Ricki Gurwitz, who was working in TV News at the time, put together a pitch for a documentary. It received instant interest, and, after years of preparation, was accepted into the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.
At first, Matthew was worried that people would see the word “Auschwitz” and think that it’s “just another Jewish Holocaust movie.” However, there was great interest in the film, and it received the award for second best film of the festival out of 247 films from around the world.
Matthew’s film is unique in that it focuses on a trial that just happened. “There’s an immediacy to it since it takes place in the present.” The film raises questions such as how to enforce never again, and, what it means to seek retroactive justice.
Matthew felt compelled to create this documentary because of his personal experience on the March, and his connection to Israel. “I want to help people and enlighten them in teaching lessons of the past. Without our history, people don’t get what it means to be Jewish.”
During the production of the film, Matthew had a unique experience, seeing the history of his people through others’ eyes, as several key crew members were not Jewish. “For the team to come to Germany, experience Auschwitz with a Holocaust survivor and experience Israel was amazing.”
Matthew is proud to have started his career with a film that deals with a historic subject in a contemporary time. “I’m very humbled and honoured to have been a part of this film. It’s very powerful knowing you’re a part of something real. Knowing that people are affected positively about this, asking questions and wanting to learn more, that’s amazing.”
Matthew Shoychet is a 31-year old filmmaker. He grew up in Thornhill and graduated from York University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Film Production, and furthered his studies at Sheridan’s Advanced Television and Film Program. In 2015, Matthew began to work on the feature film “The Accountant of Auschwitz” and it is currently being played across the country.
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Jumans of Toronto is a window into the lives and passion of Jewish young adults making their mark in the world. A 50-part series, Jumans is inspired by Humans of New York. If you’d like to recommend someone awesome to be highlighted, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Adina Samuels