Jonathan Glazer‘s “The Zone of Interest” is a haunting look at humanity’s ability to turn a blind eye to atrocities after becoming desensitized. The Holocaust drama takes place in the shadows of Auschwitz, where Nazi guard Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) live a calm domestic life raising their children next door to the infamous concentration camp. Glazer uses the cold and voyeuristic gaze that he perfected on “Under the Skin” to depict the banality of evil with chilling precision.

As the film heads into the final stretch of Oscar voting with five nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, Glazer and his team opened up about their creative process in a new featurette that IndieWire can exclusively reveal.

“I didn’t know about the Hoss family at all,” Hüller said of her first impressions of the role. “When I decided to be a part of it, it was really kind of a painful decision. I was very surprised when Jonathan showed me how close they lived from Auschwitz and what they had to do to forget about it. It’s really unbelievable.”

Glazer emphasized that the juxtaposition between the Hoss family’s attempts at an idyllic life and the horrors of Auschwitz was the core of the story, singling out a scene where Hedwig expresses her hesitancy to leave the camp as a key moment.

“The idea that somebody would be very happy in Auschwitz, that somebody would not want to leave Auschwitz, I set the story around that particular moment,” he said.

Glazer and his collaborators all spoke about the challenge of finding the real truth in the Hoss story between all of the lies that the family had to tell themselves in order to get through their everyday existence.

“John said to me one key sentence to create this character,” Christian Friedel said. “‘If you speak the truth, then lie with your eyes. And if your eyes tell the truth, then lie with your mouth.

“The Zone of Interest” is currently playing in select theaters, where it has grossed over $21 million, and available to watch on VOD platforms.

Also, on Thursday, February 29, the film will screen in The Hague, followed by a Q&A with producer James Wilson, marking the first time A24 will screen a film in the Dutch city.

Watch the featurette, an IndieWire exclusive, below.

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