"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Behind the Scenes of the Eichmann Trial

Bureau 06, directed and produced by Yoav Halevy, is a documentary film about the team of police investigators who worked in preparation for the trial against Adolf Eichmann in 1961.  The members of this team tirelessly prepared the criminal charges against him, for crimes against humanity and for his role in the deportation of Jews from the ghettos and the implementation of the Final Solution.
The film includes interviews with interrogators, investigators, historians, translators, the son of Major General Selinger (who was the head of the bureau), historical footage, actual taped interviews, and dramatized sequences.  The film also features material from the memoirs of Chief Inspector Avner Less, the chief interrogator, and an interview with his son who talks about how the families suffered because one parent disappeared for such a long period while working on this case -- and how his father continued to be obsessed by Eichmann even years later. Members of the team worked 9 months together, day and night, learning the vast amount of documents and materials, immersed in the anguish of the Shoah, going home only one day each week for Shabbat. 

There were differences of opinion -- only Chief Prosecutor Gideon Hausner actually made the final decisions.  For example, he decided to expand the scope of the trial so that it became a trial about the entire story of the Shoah and not only about the role played by Eichmann.  Also, he decided to include testimony from survivors even though their testimonies were not considered to be historical evidence in the judicial sense.  He also decided to use the number "Six Million" even though it was not historically proven, and he proudly told the court that he represented "six million accusers". 
This film is a superbly researched historical document which succeeds in integrating the emotions and personal hardships of those who worked in the bureau, and even touches on some of the terrible stories that they uncovered in their research. 

At the recent Jerusalem Film Festival 2013, Bureau 06 won an honorable mention, in a competition sponsored by Yad Vashem.  The following was the statement by the jury:

Bureau 06 is an energetic, well-researched examination of the police unit assigned to interrogate Adolf Eichmann before his trial. While the Israeli public knows a great deal about the trial itself, the story of the legal preparation for the case—and the characters involved in that complicated process—has been until now largely hidden from view. This documentary takes us behind the scenes of this dramatic historical moment in dynamic and surprisingly moving fashion.

Bureau 06 (documentary, 58 minutes) is available from JMT Films.

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