‘The Survivor’ Premiers At Toronto International Film Festival

Barry Levinson is 79, so it doesn’t seem much of a leap to say that he made “The Survivor,” a true story of the Holocaust, as a late-career reckoning. The central character, Harry Haft, played by the remarkable Ben Foster, is a Polish Jew who gets sent to Auschwitz in 1943, where he sees the lowest circle of the inferno of the death camps. But he also becomes a boxer, sparring with other prisoners for the entertainment of the Nazis, and this allows him not to perish. What Harry does makes him, in effect, a cousin to the Sonderkommandos, the work units comprised of death-camp prisoners whose lives were extended because they did the grisly work of disposing of gas-chamber victims. “The Survivor” confronts the question of whether Harry was making a deal with the devil. (Actually, there’s no doubt that he was. The real question is: Was it a deal that God could forgive?) But since Harry is a fighter, and a good one, in movie terms he also can’t help but look heroic — like a strongman who fought back against the Nazis, and fought back against fate.


TORONTO, ONTARIO – SEPTEMBER 13: (L-R) Ben Foster and Barry Levinson attends “The Survivor” Premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)



  • Production: A New Mandate Films, BRON Studios production. Producers: Matti Leshem, Aaron L. Gilbert, Barry Levinson, Jason Sosnoff, Scott Pardo. Executive producers: Joel Greenberg, Ben Foster, Danny DeVito, Steven Thibault, Ashley Levinson, Anjay Nagpal, Ron McLeod, Jason Cloth, Richard McConnell, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri.
  • Crew: Director: Barry Levinson. Screenplay: Justine Juel Gillmer. Camera: George Steel. Editor: Douglas Crise. Music: Hans Zimmer.
  • With: Ben Foster, Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Danny Devito, John Leguizamo, Anthony Molinari.