A24 Releases Trailer for Award-Winning Holocaust Film, ‘The Zone of Interest’

Photo Credit: A24
Photo Credit: A24

The official trailer for the World War II-era movie The Zone of Interest has been released by A24. The feature, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, centers around the commandant of Auschwitz and his wife, and has been described as one of the most haunting films of the year.

Still from 'The Zone of Interest'
The Zone of Interest, 2023. (Photo Credit: A24)

The Zone of Interest follows Rudolf Höss and his wife, Hedwig, as they “strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden” next to Auschwitz. As the Second World War nears its close, Hedwig becomes focused on self-preservation, while Rudolf becomes increasingly overwhelmed and stressed by his duties under the German regime.

The film is loosely based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Martin Amis. After determining he wanted to adapt the book into a big-screen feature, director and screenplay writer Jonathan Glazer began his research into the Höss family, and with the help of the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau was able to access archival records, as well as survivor and victim testimonies.

“I started reading about Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig and how they lived at Auschwitz, right on the corner of the plot, as it were,” Glazer said in a press briefing from A24. “It became about the wall for me on some level, really. The compartmentalization of their lives, and the horror that they lived next door.”

He added, “I didn’t want to feel like I was making a movie about this other period [of time] and putting it in a museum. We’re talking about arguably one of the worst periods of human history, but we can’t say ‘let’s put it away;’ or ‘it’s not us, we’re safe, it was eighty years ago.’ We can’t think that it doesn’t relate to us anymore. It clearly does, and, troublingly, it may always. So I wanted to be looking at it with modern eyes.”

Jonathan Glazer standing on a red carpet
Jonathan Glazer attending the 76th Cannes Film Festival, 2023. (Photo Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

Rudolf Höss was a German SS officer who served as the commandant of Auschwitz during WWII. In this role, he implemented the regime’s Final Solution and was the one to introduce Zyklon B for use in the gas chambers, after it was suggested by Deputy Commandant Karl Fritzsch.

Höss joined the SS in 1934, and over the next four years was stationed at Dachau, where he learned how to run a concentration camp. In 1941, he was ordered to establish a new camp next to Auschwitz, which ultimately became Birkenau – or Auschwitz II. After leaving Auschwitz in 1943, he returned for Operation Höss, in which 430,000 Jewish people from Hungary were sent there.

In total, Höss is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of over one million individuals over the course of the Holocaust.

While he tried to escape following the war under the false identity of Franz Lang, but was located in Gottrupel, Schleswig-Holstein in 1946 and arrested. The Supreme Court in Warsaw sentenced him to death for Crimes Against Humanity, and he was hanged at Auschwitz in April 1947.

Christian Friedel as Rudolf Höss in 'The Zone of Interest'
The Zone of Interest, 2023. (Photo Credit: A24)

The Zone of Interest stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller as Rudolf and Hedwig, respectively, as well as Johann Karthaus, Luis Noah Witte, Nele Ahrensmeier, Lilli Falk and Medusa Knopf. The movie premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, where it won the Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Prize and received a six-minute standing ovation. It has since been selected as the British entry for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.

Both Hüller and Friedel took a while to sign on to the project, and they both understood how difficult it would be to portray these real-life figures. “It was a long process, with lots of questions involved, and lots of doubts too,” Hüller revealed.

This uneasiness also had to do with the fact that the film was shot at Auschwitz itself.

“I wanted to take a tour of the camp,” Friedel recalled. “I decided to do it before the shoot, to visit as a human being, as a normal person, as myself, and then as this character. When I was there, I felt like the character was in charge, had this power. It was a very bad feeling: ‘this is my castle, this is my work.’ It was strange to do this, but very important.”

Sandra Hüller standing on a red carpet
Sandra Hüller attending the 76th Cannes Film Festival, 2023. (Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

The film has received acclaim since its premiere in May. Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman called it “chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope,” while Kevin Maher of The Times called it a “landmark movie, hugely important, that’s unafraid of difficult ideas.”

As of publishing, The Zone of Interest holds a rating of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

More from us: The Tank Museum Releases Christmas Knit Collection

The Zone of Interest is slated for a limited release in US theaters on December 15, 2023. Polish audiences will be able to view it in theaters on February 9, 2024.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved