Eva Stories web series released on Instagram, a free adaptation of the diaries that Jewish girl Eva Heyman kept in Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944. The project with the slogan “What if a girl from the Holocaust had an Instagram?”, Launched by the Israeli billionaire Mati Kohavi and his daughter Maya on Yom HaShoah (the day of remembrance and mourning for Jews who became victims of Nazism), attracted the attention of one and a half million users of the social network and caused a controversial reaction. He was publicly supported by actress Gal Gadot, comedian Sarah Silverman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the same time, some commentators found reminders of the Holocaust in the format of Instagram stories - with emoticons and hashtags - too frivolous, inappropriate and even offensive.
Eva Stories is based on the notes of Eva Heyman, who is sometimes called the Hungarian Anne Frank: a thirteen-year-old girl who grew up in Nagyvarada (today the city is called Oradea and is located in Romania) and dreamed of a career as a newspaper photographer, was included in the number of 424 thousand Hungarian Jews deported in May – June 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp and died in the gas chamber in October of the same year, but on the eve of deportation managed to hand over the diaries to her friend Mariska. Subsequently, they were discovered by her mother, taken out of the occupation zone by the so-called "Castner train" (in the summer of 1944, Rudolf Castner managed to ransom and evacuate more than 1,500 Jews from Nazi-controlled territories).
Screening Hayman's diaries in the form of seventy sketches for Instagram, Kohavi deliberately went to the provocation. “The memory of the Holocaust is fading outside Israel,” the businessman told the New York Times. - We decided: 'Let's do something really subversive.' We found the diary and said: "Suppose that instead of paper and pen Eve had a smartphone, and she wrote down everything that happened to her." The smartphone is the only deliberate anachronism in the film adaptation, otherwise - at least at the level of costumes and scenery - "Stories of Eve" are trying to match the era.
As a result of an aggressive promotional campaign, Eva's account gained 200 thousand subscribers even before its launch, but the final result did not impress all viewers of the insta-series. Yuval Mendelssohn, an Israeli musician and social studies teacher, criticized the project in his column for the Haaretz newspaper, accusing its creators of bad taste and stating that "there is a shortcut from Stories Eve, leading to a selfie at the gates of Auschwitz."
Musician Yuval Mendelssohn accused the creators of the project of bad taste and said that "there is a short way down from Stories Eve, leading to a selfie at the gates of Auschwitz."
This seems to be the most common complaint about the show. Its creators hoped that the story of the extermination of hundreds of thousands of people (in Hungary alone, according to researchers, more than half a million Jews died during the Holocaust), squeezed into the Instagram feed - between chronicles of parties and amusing videos with pets - would produce a shock effect. However, not everyone believes that the guerrilla promotion will work as intended, rather than "instagramizing" a large-scale tragedy. “I am a little afraid that some might take [this topic] too lightly,” said Rachel Fadem of Chicago, one of the young Jews interviewed by the Times of Israel. “I have a feeling that being on social media, side by side with unnecessary and meaningless content, [Eva Heyman's diaries] can also become meaningless,” said another respondent, Alisa Cohen of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Other commentators criticize "Stories of Eve" for being too staged and unrealistic, although they note the play of the British actress Maya Queenie, who played the main character. The authors of the series were also blamed for the fact that its budget (Kohavi claims to have invested “less than $ 5 million" in filming) could be used more effectively - for example, on school educational programs that would talk about the Holocaust without trying to flirt with audience of social networks.
Among the viewers, however, there were those who appreciated the attempt to tell the tragedy of Eva Heyman in the language of instagram. “They tried to do something that our generation could associate themselves with,” says fourteen-year-old Israeli schoolgirl Gavi Altman. “When they just tell you a story, you think 'Well, it was so long ago, it has nothing to do with us.' And such things help to better feel their connection [with history]”.
"Stories Eve" got straight into the epicenter of many years of debate about how and with what artistic means it is possible and necessary to preserve the memory of the tragedies of the scale of the Holocaust, and which of them, accordingly, offend this memory. Critics from these positions did not avoid even works that are difficult to suspect of a frivolous presentation: for example, Laszlo Nemesh's film Son of Saul, which received universal approval from reviewers for a new approach to depicting the Holocaust, was simultaneously criticized for fitting the realities of Auschwitz to the thriller genre. Obviously, Mati Kohavi in this debate took the side of those who are sure that when talking about the tragedy that killed millions of people, one should not be too scrupulous, narrowing the audience, especially when Holocaust denial, according to various polls, is becoming more and more popular.