A violent neo-Nazi gang in Paris lets a photographer document their activities over a period of four years, unaware that he is the son of an Auschwitz survivor.
Esaias Batel, born in Sweden and whose father survived Auschwitz, becomes a photographer and ends up in Paris. Fascinated by a chance encounter with a gang of neo-Nazis on a train one day, he is gradually accepted into their group and spends four years (1977-81) documenting them and their activities. He leads a double life during this time. Ultimately, however, his true identity cannot remain hidden, and he and his family have to flee for their lives. Now, 30 years later, he looks back on the double life he led during that period, and how he was able to feel compassion towards those who committed horrendous acts.
Director’s statement Four Years of Night 2011
This is a story about a man descended from the most violent episode in modern history, who as an adult chose to get closer to the fire by following and documenting a neo-Nazi gang with his camera. To do so, he had to let go of any preconceived notions in order to capture the most authentic moments on film, to salvage a moment of compassion amid hatred. His work raises moral questions about the boundaries he posed for himself, and how closely he could approach these boundaries without becoming a part of something that had already ravaged his own family.