It's after dark in Sochi, and a pack of stray dogs is hogging the sidewalk like they own the place. There are a dachshund mix, several random mutts and one dog that looks like it may be part chow. They're cute and look like pets; seemingly well-fed and with decent pedigrees.
That is, until a fight breaks out. It's loud but ultimately more dog park than street fight, and the dogs quickly get back to prancing around and eating abandoned leftovers.
With a running time of more than nine hours, Claude Lanzmann's monumental 1985 documentary, Shoah, was never destined to become a mass audience draw. But this sober, taxing, utterly absorbing attempt to document the Holocaust grows ever more essential precisely as our collective memory is increasingly eroded by the reductive shorthand of emaciated bodies or piles of shoes discarded by concentration-camp inmates as they went to their terrible fate. For Lanzmann, understanding trumps empathy.