"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.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Keeping the Memory Alive

 Yom HaShoah always comes a week after Pesach – it’s April 8 this year.  So, I thought I would take this opportunity to review a Shoah documentary that I had the occasion to see just lately. It’s not a new film, but it’s particularly touching and it makes an important statement about Holocaust education, which is all too often just ceremonial and lacking in meaning.

 The Strength to Tell, directed by Noam Demsky, tells the story of a drama therapy program for youth at risk in Jerusalem.  These youngsters know very little about the Shoah, and have no personal relationship to it.  As part of a workshop run by the Jerusalem theater group, HaMartef, they are given the opportunity to meet with five Holocaust survivors, all of whom testified at the Eichmann Trial, which took place in Jerusalem in 1961.  After they view each survivor’s testimony, they have small group meetings with him, and then they do theater exercises to develop their own expression towards the stories that the survivors shared with them. 

One story is told by Avraham Avriel – his mother and brother were killed at an open ravine in the Ukraine and he succeeded in running away, haunted until this day, by the memories of his mother and brother who he left behind in the pit.  We watch the footage of his testimony at the Eichmann Trial and then we see the touching encounter with the youth participating in the program.

Yosef Kleinman talks about his experiences at Auschwitz.  Yehuda Bacon talks about the difficulty he had because you become insensitive to the evil taking place around you.  Nahum Hoch was locked inside the gas chamber with all the tension and the crying.  And then, suddenly, they took them out to do another selectia.  He is convinced that he was brought back to tell the story of what happened there. 

 We watch as the young actors are amazingly impacted by the people they meet.  They take the material they hear, struggle to build their own relationship to the Shoah and create a theatrical story around it. 

 The Strength to Tell (documentary, 2013, 50 minutes) is a moving and innovative film which shows how the Shoah can still be meaningful to young people, even so many years after it occurred.  The film can be obtained directly from the director, Noam Demsky, at demskynoam@gmail.com.


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