A Film Unfinished (Shtikat Haarchion)

Rated NR 88 min. 2010

Bitter images may turn the stomach, but they no doubt attract the eye — especially when they reveal the truth. Nowhere does this rule apply better than in past grievances humans have wrought upon one another. Israeli director/screenwriter Yael Hersonski uses this morbid reality in an intensely executed and darkly exquisite piece about the Nazi obsession with self-documentation during its rise to terrible power. A Film Unfinished is, in essence, a slow unveiling of a dangerous truth. In the mid-1950s, reels of German-filmed footage of life inside the Warsaw Ghetto were discovered — unedited and silent — and entered into Holocaust canon as fact. Four decades later, outtakes from this same footage were uncovered in another building, and they reveal the creative process, including numerous takes and staging of scenes previously considered candid. The film embarks on a slow, deliberate journey into the twisted minds of the Reich. Much of the movie is simply a screening of the original Nazi footage, but Hersonski tracked down a handful of survivors and invited them to view the films, alone, in an empty theater. Hersonski lets the footage speak for itself, and defaults to beautifully chosen words from the mouths of those who were there to strengthen the case the movie builds, one laborious piece of evidence at a time: We don't know everything the Nazis were doing, but one thing they were definitely doing is lying. And it finally becomes clear what they were really trying to do: prepare the world to accept the looming monstrosities of the death camps.

Film Credits

Director: Yael Hersonski

Writer: Yael Hersonski

Producer: Itai Ken-Tor and Noemi Schory

Cast: Alexander Beyer and Rüdiger Vogler

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