Claude Lanzmann, the French filmmaker best known for his landmark Holocaust documentary Shoah, has died at home in Paris at the age of 92.
The writer had been “very, very weak” for some days, publishing house Gallimard told AFP news agency.
The 1985 film Shoah, which runs for more than nine hours, is considered the foremost film on the Holocaust.
It uses testimonies from victims to describe the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War Two.
The Israeli government expressed its sorrow at Lanzmann’s death. Foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP it was an “enormous loss for humanity and especially for the Jewish people”.
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy described Lanzmann as “a brave man… a good man”.
“I will cherish like treasure the beautiful times we spent together,” he said.
Lanzmann was born in Paris in 1925, the son of Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe.
When war broke out he was a member of a communist youth organisation and joined the French resistance to fight Nazi occupation.
He went on to study literature and philosophy and in the early 1950s met the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and the writer and intellectual Simone de Beauvoir. Lanzmann later lived with Simone de Beauvoir for several years.
His documentary Shoah was the result of 12 years work and more than 300 hours of interviews shot between 1974 and 1981.
It won critical acclaim and several awards including a Bafta for best documentary. Simone de Beauvoir called it a masterpiece.
“If I am unstoppable it’s because of the truth, which I believe in profoundly,” he said last year in an interview with AFP.
“When I look at what I did in my life, I believe that I came to represent the truth, I never played with it.”
Lanzmann never retired and his final film, The Four Sisters, was only recently released in France.