The gray area

The Grey Zone , known in Spanish as the gray area , is a 2001 film directed by Tim Blake Nelson and starring David Arquette , Steve Buscemi , Harvey Keitel , Mira Sorvino and Daniel Benzali . It is based on the book Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account , written by Miklós Nyiszli , about the Nazi holocaust .

The name of the film comes from a chapter in the book “The Sunken and the Saved” by Primo Levi , an Italian writer who survived Auschwitz. The film tells the story of Sonderkommando Jewish XII in a concentration camp of Auschwitz in October 1944. These prisoners were forced to help the guards to bring victims to the gas chambers. [ Citation needed ]


On October 7, 1944, the Jewish sonderkommandos (the prisoners kept separate from the rest and working in the operation of the gas chambers and crematory ovens) of Auschwitz organized an uprising. The feeling of guilt of these men, who also receive a ‘treat favor’ on the part of the Nazis, will lead them to consider a mutiny as a form of redemption. The prisoners had been able to extract explosives from an arms factory and used them to partially destroy the IV crematorium and try to escape in the confusion. The 250 prisoners were captured and immediately executed.


The script is based partly on the autobiographical novel of Miklos Nyiszli , “Auschwitz: a doctor’s eyewitness account”, Jewish doctor who participated in the experiments of Josef Mengele under pressure to keep alive his wife and daughter. The influence of the text of Primo Levi The sunken ones and the saved ones is also perceived, one of whose chapters is titled precisely The gray zone .

The barracks and crematorium ovens were rebuilt specifically for the film.

It was shot in Bulgaria .


  • David Arquette – Hoffman
  • Steve Buscemi – “Hesch” Abramowics
  • David Chandler – Rosenthal
  • Allan Corduner – Doctor Miklos Nyiszli
  • Daniel Benzali – Schlermer
  • Mira Sorvino – Dina
  • Natasha Lyonne – Pink
  • Michael Stuhlbarg – Cohen
  • Harvey Keitel – SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt
  • Kamelia Grigorova – The Girl
  • Velizar Binev – SS-Oberscharfuhrer Moll
  • Lee Wilkof – Man With Watch