You may love this film or you may hate it, but what you won’t feel is nothing. The questions it poses are fundamental and the stakes it raises are quite literally, life or death. And for that reason, the film can take a while to sink in. My idealistic hope is that once it does, it will bring a little more compassion into the world.
I made this film for personal and political reasons. On the one hand, I was struggling to respond to the suffering within my own family. On the other, I was perpetually alarmed by the political and economic conditions of millions of people on this earth, and how my country was increasingly responsible for their misery. And this was all in the context of the rise of the Internet, the pervasiveness of personal digital devices, and a celebration of multi-tasking. In other words, a culture characterized by endless sources of distraction, by an infinite number of ways to avoid paying sustained attention to our fellow human beings.
So when I read Simone Weil’s line, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity,” it resonated deeply. And when I discovered what an extraordinary person she was, and how relatively few people knew about her, I decided I had to make this film. Over the six years it took to make it, she became an inspiration and a source of strength. But at the same time she couldn’t be a role model. Her drive to self-destruction, whether seen in personal or political terms, was not something I could romanticize, especially given my own family history. What she did though is help me grapple with the scope of my responsibility to others. And for that I will be forever grateful.