2000 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE
Best Documentary Short
A compelling examination of the lives of three artists forced to work in secret while living in Nazi death camps during WWII: Jan Komski, Dinah Gottliebova, and Felix Nussbaum, who more than fifty years ago witnessed and painted the horrors of the Holocaust.
Van Bork was born in 1928 in Augustusburg, Germany. He studied art at the Academies of Fine Arts in Berlin, Leipzig, and Dresden. Following World War II, he began producing stark woodcuts of intense and terrifying beauty, often made from the pine remains of destroyed buildings and old furniture, depicting a Berlin struggling with an uncertain future. In 1954, he moved to Chicago by way of New York, working in oil on canvas as well as drypoint, displaying an influence of German expressionism in his portrayals of the landscapes of the American Southwest, and cityscapes of Chicago. By this time, Van Bork had become an accomplished stills photographer as well and received the National Award for Outstanding Photography in Germany in 1954. In 1957, Van Bork brought a film he had made, The Seventeen Year Locust to Warren Everote at Encyclopedia Britannica Films, who then hired him to produce mainly art and science films (the film was renamed Insect Life Cycle: the Periodical Cicada for distribution).
Soon, he became famous for both his stunning geological studies and infamous for his daring in obtaining footage under extremely arduous conditions, whether volcanic, underground, or aerial. Van Bork has made over 200 films. His film Eyewitness (1999) was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 under the documentary short category. The film examines the sketches and paintings done secretly by men and women who lived and died inside the walls of the Nazi death camps. Bert Van Bork currently lives in Evanston, Illinois, and continues to exhibit his artwork around Chicago.