Films of genealogical interest at coming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival #general


Jrbaston
 

Northern California researchers will find that among the lineup in the
upcoming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (July 19-August 6) are a quartet of
documentaries that take as their theme family history, family secrets and the
significance of what is left behind -- photographs, home movies, a memoir,
letters and even a family business in the old country.

In "The Flat," Israeli filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger sifts through his
grandmother's apartment after her death and finds old German newspaper
front pages with the story of a Nazi leader's visit to Palestine in the 1930s.

British filmmaker Daniel Edelstyn's discovery of his grandmother's
tattered journal takes him to their ancestral town in Ukraine - and a
vodka distillery that once belonged to her family.

For Argentinian filmmaker Gaston Solnicki, it is hundreds of hours of home
movie footage of his grandparents, survivors >from Lodz, and other family
members, that become the film â??Papirosen.â??

And Israeli documentarian David Fisher's "Six Million and One" begins with
his discovery of the diary that his father Joseph kept during his time in
a labor camp in Austria.

Having previewed this quartet, to me, "The Flat" and "Six Million and One"
are the two standout films.

Along with the newspaper articles detailing the trip to Mandate Palestine
of Nazi official Leopold Von Mildenstein, accompanied by German Zionist
leaders Kurt and Gerda Tuchler, filmmaker Goldfinger finds caches of old
letters sent between the Von Mildensteins and the Tuchlers and tries to
come to grips with how his grandparents and the man who was Adolph Eichmann's
predecessor in the SS could have had what appeared to be a warm - and even
cordial - relationship. The film includes a trip to Austria in which
Goldfinger's mother meets Von Mildenstein's daughter, both of whom are
trying to fit their own personal perceptions of their parents into the
broader historical context.

In "Six Million and One" it is also a trip to Austria - scene of the
former Gusen work camp detailed in Joseph Fisher's diary - that provides
the film its strongest scenes. But it is not the visit itself that makes
the film unique and important, but rather our opportunity to eavesdrop on
the interchange between four of Joseph's children who make the trip, David,
his two brothers and a sister. They each bring their own very different
perceptions - of their father, of the Shoah, of their relationship to
history - to the trip, and it is the exchange - sometimes hesitant,
sometimes angry, eventually heartfelt -- between these second generation
members of this family that makes this a "don't miss" film for family historians.

The festival will have showings around the Bay Area, in San Francisco,
Berkeley, Oakland, San Rafael and Palo Alto. For a complete schedule of
showings, see http://www.sfjff.org

(I have no financial or organizational interest in the Jewish Film Festival)

Judy Baston
San Francisco, CA

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