Surviving Auschwitz

Surviving Auschwitz

SURVIVING AUSCHWITZ (Released as ‘Victor Young Perez’)

SYNOPSIS

Surviving Auschwitz is based on a true story, that of the life of the boxer Victor “Young” Perez, a Jewish Tunisian. Benjamin “Kid” Perez, his brother and also a boxer, is supposed to fight in Tunisia against the French champion, but he’s injured during training. So Victor replaces him for the fight and – against all odds – wins with a superb knockout. He’s then offered the chance by Beilleres, a major French boxing manager, to leave Tunisia and to continue his career in France.

Victor leaves for Paris with his brother and close friend Maxo to pursue a career in boxing and follow his dream of fame and fortune. Beilleres suggests Benjamin becomes Victor’s coach and under his brother’s supervision, he trains hard and becomes French Flyweight Champion at the tender age of eighteen. Because of his age, the Press quickly dubs him “Young Perez”. He is entered into the European boxing championship for France and again wins impressively – but he receives a real body blow when he’s disqualified for not being French. But the French people love him and adopt him as their own people’s champion and he is quickly reinstated as a French Champion. Before long, Young Perez achieves his ultimate dream of becoming a World Champion – ably supported by his older brother Benjamin, who is always in his corner and at his side, sparring with him.

At this point in the story he meets a fascinating and ambitious young actress, Mireille Balin. She is astonished to meet Victor again, who she first met when he was working part time as a waiter at Maxim’s restaurant while he was training as a boxer. From the moment Victor saw Mireille he knew – just as he knew he would be a world champion boxer – that one day they would become lovers… So, Mireille and Victor begin a very public love affair and she introduces him to the glitz and glamour of Paris. Victor is swept away with the lifestyle and completely oblivious to Mireille using him to further her film care

He starts to spend less time in the gym and more time with Mireille, as it becomes clear to Benjamin that she has Victor completely under her spell. Everything he and Victor have worked for will soon be gone, unless he can somehow make Victor see sense.

Courtesy of her relationship with Victor, Mireille achieves her dream of becoming a famous actress and starts to make a string of high profile movies. Both are now the toast of Paris and it seems the two young lovers have everything. Victor is now completely mesmerized by Mireille and the night life of Paris. So much so that his love for her overrides his love for boxing. Partying hard and his love of champagne soon takes a detrimental effect on his training – or lack thereof – and brother Benjamin worries that Victor is jeopardizing everything they have worked for; his coveted world title belt and the love of the French people and Press, who have taken him to their hearts.

Benjamin urges Victor to take his training seriously or risk losing the defence of his world title to the British Flyweight Champion. Not long after, a very out of shape and ring-rusty Young Perez takes a beating and loses his coveted World Flyweight crown. His relationship with Mireille implodes as she starts to see other leading men and refuses to see him. With his love life in tatters, his motivation deserts him and a terrible losing streak in the ring ensues. With his boxing reputation in tatters and his brother returning to their native Tunisia, a penniless Young Perez agrees to fight in Berlin. But in the ring, with Nazi flags everywhere and an enraged nationalist crowd, he encounters serious racial abuse – and a foretaste of what Europe will suffer. On his return from Berlin, a penniless Victor is walking in the streets of occupied Paris when by chance he sees Mireille in the famous restaurant where they used to have dinner together, sitting at a table with a German officer. A lethal cocktail of anger, emotion and self-pity rises up inside Victor and he confronts Mireille – questioning her loyalty to France and her morality. When challenged by the officer for his identity, he retorts “I am Young Perez” and knocks the officer to the floor. He is immediately arrested and sent to a German concentration camp.

In a terrible twist of fate, when he arrives at the camp Victor meets Benjamin, his estranged brother who, unbeknown to Victor, had returned to get him out of Paris only to be arrested himself and sent
to the same camp.

Commander Hoess, the SS Commander in Chief of the camp, eventually hears about the so called boxing skills of Victor. A big fan of the sport himself, Hoess tells Victor that no Jew could possibly be a great boxing champion and suggests he must have been helped by officials who rigged his fights. He commands Victor to train and fight a young, strong, massive Aryan soldier, but ‘this time’ with no corrupt officials to save him. Hoess himself will referee. He stares coldly at Perez and tells him this is a fight he will lose and lose badly.

Only one of the Perez brothers would return after the war to tell the amazing and harrowing story of their time in the camp – and what happened when David fought Goliath. Can Victor recover his past glories and restore his dignity and those of the many he would fight for in the brutal and inhumane camp?

This is the story of the Tunisian man called Victor Perez who will always be known as a great French champion. A man whose sporting flame dimmed almost as quickly as it ignited, but who would forever be remembered for his actions in a German concentration camp. A man whom, after many years in the face of adversity, would once again rise and be known to those who loved and believed in him as Young Perez.

The film has now been picked up by US distributor 7th Art and is currently on the festival circuit in the US, before it goes on general release. Surviving Auschwitz has now also been signed by UK distributors High Fliers Films PLC and has been released on DVD.

The film was nominated for the Best International Film Award at São Paulo International Film Festival and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It premiered at the Fingal Film Festival in Ireland. Surviving Auschwitz was picked up by US distributor 7th Art and released theatrically in France and Russia. The movie has been released by UK distributors High Fliers Films PLC and is available on DVD and VOD.

 “An enjoyable film” – Variety

“Packs a real punch… an exciting drama.” – A Voir Lire.

Victor Young Perez on IMDb

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