Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Poland --Po-lin: New documentary on pre-war Poland

Po-lin, Slivers of Memory, a new Polish documentary film with archival footage from pre-war Poland, has been shown at the New York Polish Film Festival. I posted a link to an AP story on this in March, but the link doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Here's the trailer:

My friend Carolyn Slutsky, who studied and reported from Poland, reviews the film in Jewish Week.

The details are heartbreakingly mundane: a watchmaker talks to his watches like they're sick patients; a teacher carries his shoeless pupils to the cheder; a Jewish midwife assists at the birth of a Polish Catholic child. In "Po-lin: Slivers of Memory," a new documentary written and directed by Jolanta Dyslewska, daily Jewish life in prewar Poland is revealed in all its routine and sameness, painting a stark and novel portrait of all that was lost when the Nazis invaded in 1939.

The documentary (Po-lin means "we shall stop here" in Yiddish) weaves footage shot by American Jews visiting their Polish-Jewish relatives during the 1930s with contemporary interviews of elderly Poles telling their memories of their Jewish neighbors and friends. Reaching far beyond the typical "some-of-my-best-friends-were-Jewish" mentalities often attributed to non-Jews in prewar Europe, the interviews show aging people grappling with sweet childhood memories that later turned dark as their Jewish friends were deported and gone. And the prewar home movies, which Dyslewska first found in a Jerusalem archive, are poignant not only for showing the world that would soon be destroyed but also for their shocking intimacy, since the cameramen were the relatives of these doomed Polish Jews.

Read full article

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