Reviews and Festivals
"Germany's reckoning with a painful past is a topic that stands alone. This film could also introduce discussion of the U.S. approach to dealing with slavery, and what future generations owe to those wronged in the past."
— School Library Journal
"The Lesson examines how a country remembers and teaches its past...The value of the film is for an education collection supporting future or current history teachers to understand their role in placing significant historical events into the proper context. This film is highly recommended for all collections as this film provides an understanding of how the Holocaust is taught in Germany and will likely lead to immediate discussions of how other historically significant events (such as slavery in the United States) are taught within schools."
— Educational Media Reviews Online
"This interesting film raises important questions on politics and history. An interesting way to approach study of the Holocaust."
"Fascinating...The Lesson is a personal look at how students in Germany are taught about the Holocaust...Horn frames the content in the context of overarching questions such as, could the Holocaust have been initiated by other countries just as easily as in Germany, or is there something inherent about Germany that allowed it to start there...She highlights some of the efforts of those who refused to be bystanders to genocide, and she hopes to inspire some viewers to be courageous if, God forbid, they ever face such a choice."
— Jewish Independent
"Horn has no interest in playing with the popular concept of devil's advocate, stating many times in voiceover a worry for future generations who are not required to condemn the facts...It has gotten harder to distinguish fact from fiction, and Horn highlights that through the accounts of her contributors...the mind is not enough - there must also be emotion...That sentiment is really at the heart of this documentary. It speaks to the new fear of the right, where we normalize staying silent in fear of conflict. It states that conversation can start in the classroom, but it has to persist in the streets."
— Cinematic Faves
"The Lesson must surely stand as one of the most important documentaries this year — the creation of a brilliant director. It reveals the extent to which Holocaust education in Germany no longer guarantees that courage — a much-needed courage...all exposed in this deeply human story — lyrical in form and profound (if not disturbing) in its substance."
— Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN Human Rights Chief 2014-2018
"Her film is a clarion call for society to address the importance of sound education policy in tackling the uncomfortable truths of history."
— Salem Film Festival
"Elena Horn's quietly damning short documentary...By the end of The Lesson, it feels frustrating that the German educational system has not found a way to find similarities between the rise of Nazism and the current unfortunate popularity of Alternative for Germany (AfD)."
— Peter Wong, Beyond Chron
"Although it's heartening that Germany requires that its youth become familiar with — and, it's hoped inoculated against — fascism and anti-Semitism, the film makes dismayingly clear that the lessons don't necessarily take"
— St. Louis International Film Festival
"Provides a fascinating look at the way German youth learn and think about the Holocaust...A striking feature of the film is the inclusion of home movies taken in the 1930s by Ludwig Muller, documenting his daughter Irmgard's childhood. As they show children participating in athletic and marching exercises, running in gas masks or, in one especially disturbing scene, rewarded for telling on others, the Nazi regime's system of education is revealed. These scenes are all the more harrowing because of the knowledge that it was not filmed as commissioned propaganda, but was a father's simple documentation of everyday life."
— Ayelet Dekel, Midnight East
Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth, Edith Lando Peace Prize
Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival, Grand Prize, International Humanitarian Award
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Salem Film Festival
Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Crossing the Screen
Flickers' Rhode Island International Film festival
Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention