What if a girl had an Instagram account during the Holocaust? The account Eva.Stories on the popular social network attempts to make one of the most tragic episodes in human history closer to the social media generation by showing it through the eyes of Eva Heyman, a 13-year old Jewish girl living in Hungary who died in Auschwitz in 1944. The project, a brainchild of an Israeli tech executive and his daughter, was filmed in Lviv by the Ukrainian company Colorfilm.
The story is based on a diary which Eva kept during the Second World War. The authors of the Instagram account start from telling how Eva lived before the Nazi rule in Hungary, giving an intimate peek into the life of a young teenager of that time: learning to dance, playing with her cousin and best friend, dreaming of becoming a world-known reporter. Then, they show her existence in the Jewish ghetto and the road to the death camp. The last entry in Eva’s diary is dated 30 May 1944. She died on 17 October of that same year.
Eva’s mother managed to survive, found the diary, and published it after several decades.
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Eva.Stories is a creation of Israeli tech executive Mati Kochavi, who invested $5mn into it, and his daughter Maya. The Kochavis read about 30 diaries written by teenagers at the time of the Holocaust before choosing Eva’s.
“The memory of the Holocaust outside of Israel is disappearing,” Mr. Kochavi said told the New York Times. “We thought, let’s do something really disruptive. We found the journal and said, ‘Let’s assume that instead of pen and paper Eva had a smartphone and documented what was happening to her.’ So we brought a smartphone to 1944.”
The Instagram story consists of 70 episodes which were consecutively published on 1 and 2 May, Holocaust remembrance days in Israel. They are available in the saved Stories of the account. All the episodes correspond to the real dates in Eva’s diary: from 13 February to 30 May.
Filming in Ukraine
According to the Ukrainian outlet ain.ua, the series were filmed by the Ukrainian production Colorfilm. 400 people participated in the filming, 50 of which are Ukrainians. Lviv was chosen as the location to film Hungary during the Second World War right away. There was less than a month for preparations. First, Colorfilm together with the Israeli studio POV and a team of film directors, producers, and historical consultants went to Lviv to search for locations. At the second stage, the film crew was formed, actors were sought out, decorations and costumes were chosen. The shooting itself was held between 17-26 March in several locations: Eva’s apartment, pharmacy, school, ghetto, train station, park, and others.
“The locations were compared to wartime photos. We had to conceal modern Ukrainian signs, air conditioners on buildings,” Yana Kartun, founder of Colorfilm, told ain.ua.
The most difficult task, according to Volodymyr Chemeris, the production designer of the film, the most difficult task was delivering a real tank from the times of the Second World War to Lviv from Vinnytsia, a town 540 km away.