DIRECTOR'S BIO: Stephen Crisman is an award-winning documentary producer, writer and director, whose prestigious programs have aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes, A&E, History, MSNBC and Food Network. His work includes in-depth television documentaries on Bob Dylan, Eugene O’Neill, gun control, Swiss banking, Nazi gold, Alcoholics Anonymous and American history. Crisman Films has earned an Emmy Award, seven Emmy nominations, multiple Cable Ace and Banff nominations as well as screenings at the Berlin Film Festival and several other prestigious film festivals.
MUNICH ’72 AND BEYOND FILMMAKER’S STATEMENT:We remember like yesterday the Munich Massacre, and the voice of Jim McKay still calls out in the night: “THEY ARE ALL GONE.”
We have attended 14 Olympiads, many of them on-call to assist athletes, coaches and staff. For the past 30 years, we have travelled the globe as part of the Olympic Family and on the Olympic Committee Board.
Often, we would run into athletes, coaches, administrators and IOC members who were in Munich and wanted to share a story. Often, just months before an Olympic games, the Israeli victims led by Ankie Spitzer would petition the Olympic organizing committee begging for a moment of silence, a moment of remembrance, a moment of redemption!!
For 43 years, these pleas for recognition of the murdered athletes fell on deaf ears. The Olympic Committee had no room for “re-living” the past, or perhaps a darker more sinister rationale.
In 2012, as Dr. Thomas Bach ascended the presidency of the Olympic Committee, the paradigm shifted. He immediately went into dialogue with the Bavarian government, and they partnered to commission a memorial to be built on the site of the Olympic massacre. The Israeli ambassador, diplomats from Chancellor Merkel’s office and others met with the victims’ families and established the guidelines for the memorial - the plan to remember and embrace, a place to mourn. We were asked to serve as liaison from President Bach’s office to the Bavarian/Israeli Munich Memorial Project.
On our overseas flight to Munich to meet the architects and hear the game plan, we decided to hire a film crew to document this iconic moment.
Throughout the past two years, with many trips abroad and to the Middle East, we have encountered fascinating stories, backstories, sidebars and delicate and precious vignettes of the 43- year struggle for redemption and healing. While meeting with the Israeli families and their sons, daughters and grandchildren, we were moved to tears hearing their stories of strength, perseverance, rejection and pain as they sought to get recognition for their loved ones.
We also recognized the importance of Palestinians’ voices for this account. We were in the midst of documenting a 43-year struggle triggered by the Palestinian Black September Faction’s decision to carry out the first televised act of terrorism during the Olympic Games – a sporting event meant to transcend all politics. The story we were telling would fall short if we failed to investigate the perspective of the Palestinians on the mindset of the Faction group. We hoped that this perspective might also promote a deeper understanding of contemporary unrest and ensuing terrorist acts.
Each day was an eye-opener. Just when we thought we knew the whole story of the Munich Massacre, a new chapter would unfold, a new character would emerge, a new document uncovered. Working with the Mossad, the German authorities and many diplomats allowed us access to new information around the shootout in Munich. New information from hidden files has emerged from lawsuits and special investigations that reveal shocking evidence of professional misconduct and negligence in trying to protect the athletes.
But one day will always stay with us for the rest of our lives. It happened during one of our interviews with a family member - a victim - a woman with great passion and dignity. Ankie Spitzer revealed on-camera for the first time that she had just received shocking photo evidence of how the athletes died, which exposed that the German government had been lying to the victims’ families and the world for decades.
The room fell deathly silent as she described her shock and horror and how she chose to share this new information with the other families, their children and their children’s children.
Munich 72 and beyond is THEIR story, the voices of the victims who bore witness to this horrendous slaughter, their struggle to navigate 43 years of politics and now their moment of redemption.
Written by Producers: Dr. Steven Ungerleider David Ulich