Sunday, 8 August 2010


(Yael Hersonski; Israel; 2010)

This is a compelling documentary that attempts to solve many unanswered questions about a Nazi propaganda film that was abandoned for no apparent reason. The film was meant to be a record of the life of the Jewish people in the Warsaw ghetto, and contrasts scenes of utter poverty with scenes of luxury and comfort. Questions about why it was made and why it was abandoned encourage Hersonski to weave meticulous research with personal responses to the film from Jews who survived the ghetto, to create a densely-packed film-within-a-film that examines truth and history. Although it is mentioned early in the film that many scenes in the abandoned film project were staged, the evidence for this still packs a punch. Hersonski reveals a reel of film composed of out-takes, and there we see scenes being shot and re-shot over and over, from many angles , in order to achieve the desired effect. One of the most interesting components of this well-crafted film is Hersonski's choice to show ghetto survivors watching the film in a theatre, allowing for a contrast between the images of the propaganda film and the real experiences voiced by those watching the film. It is as if the power of the original intention of the film is fiercely challenged through placing the subject of the camera in front of the screen.

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