Exclusive Video Interview: Director Barry Levinson and Actor Ben Foster on Telling Harry Haft’s Story in ‘The Survivor’

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Harry Haft led an incredible life. He was forced to compete in a ring for the twisted entertainment of Nazi soldiers to survive when he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp and later had a career as a boxer in the United States. Now, after making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, The Survivor debuts on HBO on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

The Survivor reunites director Barry Levinson and star Ben Foster, who plays Haft, for the first time since 1999’s Liberty Heights, another film about a complicated Jewish identity. I had the chance to speak with Levinson and Foster about approaching this subject matter, its resonance, and what it was like to work together again nearly two decades after their first collaboration.

You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.

The Survivor
Photograph by Leo Pinter/HBO

Film summary:

The Survivor is based on the incredible true story of Harry Haft, who after being sent to Auschwitz, survives not only the unspeakable horrors of the camp, but the gladiatorial boxing spectacle he is forced to perform with his fellow prisoners for the amusement of his captors. Unbeknownst to those who try to destroy him, Haft is driven by the most important reason any man has to survive – a quest to reunite with the woman he loves.

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After a daring escape, he makes his way to New York, where he succeeds in using his boxing skills to establish a name for himself in the hopes of finding his one true love.

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His indomitable spirit lands him in the ring with boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as he fights to make sense of his past and reclaim the life that was stolen from him.

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Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

The Survivor debuts Wednesday, April 27th at 8pm in honor of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

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