THE SURVIVOR (TIFF2021) – Review by Leslie Combebale

It’s strange to say that a film based around the Holocaust is hopeful, but it’s true. Barry Levinson’s The Survivor is based on the real life story of Hertzko Haft, a jewish boxer who survived Auschwitz by fighting 76 brutal life or death matches against other Jewish prisoners, only to carry that trauma into his postwar life. As Haft, Ben Foster is the best he’s ever been. The Survivor is hopeful, in part, because Levinson has a way of finding the balance between darkness and light in his movies, and in part because the Jews of the world didn’t come out of the Holocaust without reaching for hope.

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WHERE IS ANNE FRANK (TIFF2021) – Review by Leslie Combemale

We are told in Where is Anne Frank’s prologue that writer/director Ari Folman’s parents were sent to Auschwitz the same week as famed diarist Anne Frank. That was part of the inspiration for this animated feature examining her life from the perspective of Kitty, the imaginary friend Anne chose as recipient of her feelings and experiences in her diary. Kitty magically materializes in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, innocent of what happened to her dear friend. She must seek out the answers to her whereabouts. In that way, Folman sets up a clever and insightful way of both explaining the Holocaust to young viewers, and considering in what ways we are currently in danger of repeating history.

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OF ANIMALS AND MEN – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Much of the documentary’s narrative will be familiar to viewers who have seen or read about Niki Caro’s 2017 fiction feature The Zookeeper’s Wife, but there’s a gut-punch factor that comes with documentary footage and first-person testimony. And overall Of Animals and Men is deeply, if not necessarily deliberately, intertwined with films that demand that the viewer think hard about his or her relationship with animals.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 8, 2019: WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY

motw logo 1-35Every single Jew who died during World War II at the hands of Hitler and his Nazis had a story to tell — and the fact that so many of those stories died with them is an unfathomable tragedy. But some of their stories survived, including those preserved by the brave Polish Jews who risked their lives to create the Oyneg Shabes Archive. This astounding cache of documents and artifacts from the Warsaw Ghetto is the subject of Roberta Grossman’s moving, fascinating documentary Who Will Write Our History.

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WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY – Review by Loren King

What a perfect title for this heart-wrenching and necessary film. Who Will Write Our History written and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, not only brings to light a vital historical event but resonates across space and time about what it means to bear witness.

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WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY – Review by Cate Marquis

There has been concern that public awareness of the Holocaust is declining, particularly among younger people, which makes the documentary Who Will Write Our History timely now. Director Roberta Grossman’s moving documentary is especially well-suited to the task, as it focuses on a secret group in the Warsaw Ghetto, led by a Polish Jewish historian, who set out to create a history and record of Jewish culture, to counteract the version of Jewish life they saw Nazi propaganda creating.

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BLESSED IS THE MATCH: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF HANNAH SENESH – Review by Jennifer Merin

Blessed Is The Match – The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh is the heartbreaking World War II story of a young Jewish women, Hannah Senesh, who’d emigrated from Hungary to Palestine, but later joined the British Army, parachuted into Yugoslavia and tried to sneak into her native country in a valiant attempt to save the Jewish community–including her mother–from death at the hands of Hungarian Nazis.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, April 21-27: THE GERMAN DOCTOR

Opening April 25, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The German Doctor, an unfathomable look at evil that follows the “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele, a German SS officer and physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp, in the years he spent living in South America following his escape from Germany. While residing with a Argentinean couple and their three children, Mengele finds a renewed interest in human genetic research. Read more…

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