Oscar-nominated documentary “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” is the first Academy Award nominee to be released as an NFT (non-fungible token).
The film, which examines the life and work of the “Shoah” director, was a contender in the 2016 documentary short Oscar race and aired on HBO; however, it’s never been made available for public purchase, either physically or digitally.
Enter the NFT: the latest fad in digital commerce. The tokens effectively provide a method of authenticating a piece of digital content, based on blockchain technology, allowing anyone to trace it back to the original owner. In this way, it certifies and tracks the ownership of a unique digital asset.
The market for NFTs has skyrocketed in recent weeks, as some buyers have speculated that the value of their NFTs could appreciate in value. Last week, a piece of digital artwork by Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple, was sold for an eye-watering $69.3 million by auction house Christie’s. It’s the largest price paid for an NFT to date.
Meanwhile, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet is on sale to the tune of at least $2.5 million. On the more accessible end of the spectrum, rock band Kings of Leon this month became the first outfit to release an album as an NFT. They’ve generated just over $2 million in sales so far.
The “Claude Lanzmann” NFT sale will see 10 first edition copies of the movie auctioned for 72 hours, beginning at 9 a.m. EST on Monday, via digital collectible site Rarible.
Each edition is being sold for 200 ETH (cryptocurrency Ether), which translates to around $375,000.
In addition to the NFT and a digital version of the film, buyers will also receive a copy of the unreleased Extended Director’s Cut, as well as a signed digital film poster. The doc will be widely released via digital platforms, such as Vimeo on Demand, on April 7.
Benzine, the film’s producer and director, tells Variety that bidders are “essentially buying a token which says that they own First Edition #1 — or First Edition #7, for example — of the movie. That token lives on as a permanent record on the blockchain, so whoever owns it at a given time will own that First Edition.
“It’s exciting and a little terrifying to be releasing the first major motion picture via this new technology,” continues Benzine, who owns the film’s copyright. “It’s an opportunity to stake out a little corner of movie-making history, and a moment where the excitement of radical innovation intersects with the prestige of established cinematic pedigree.
The filmmaker adds that blockchain technology represents a “tremendous opportunity” for the future of digital art. “While the first film reels, VHS tapes and DVDs will one day crumble to dust, this digital token has the potential to exist forever in perfect perpetuity.”
Benzine, a British journalist, last year released the documentary “The Curve,” which examined the first 90 days of the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The film was made available for free on YouTube ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” explores the French filmmaker’s 12-year journey to make the 9.5-hour examination of the Holocaust of European Jews. The documentary features an array of previously unseen outtake footage that was shot during the creation of “Shoah” to illustrate Lanzmann’s journey from the bright-eyed journalist of 1973 to the world-weary auteur of 1985.
Lanzmann died in Paris in 2018. He was 92.
Todd Spangler contributed to this report.