A FILM UNFINISHED
by Yael Hersonski
At the end of WWII, 60 minutes of raw film was discovered intact in an East German archive. Shot by the Nazis in Warsaw in May 1942, and labeled simply “Das Ghetto,” this footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto.
In 1998, another reel was discovered that radically complicated the scholarly interpretation of “Das Ghetto.” The footage, in which glimpses of the Nazi filmmakers can be seen when they accidentally step into each others’ shots, makes clear the great extent to which the Reich’s propagandists staged the scenes in the unfinished film that came to be known as “Das Ghetto.”
A Film Unfinished presents the raw footage of the latter reel in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing “the good life” enjoyed by Jewish urbanites. We also glimpse the filmmakers forcing some of the more prosperous Jewish inhabitants to ignore the corpses lying in the streets.
Without forcing any conclusions about what the object of the propaganda film, director Yael Hersonski offers insight into how what we believe to be definitive and historical is not always what it appears to be.
English, Hebrew, German, Polish, Yiddish
Director: Yael Hersonski
Producer: Noemi Schory, Itay Ken-Tor
Production Company: Belfilms
Cinematographer: Itay Neeman
Editor: Joelle Alexis
Original Soundtrack: Yishay Hadar
Supporters: The New Fund for Cinema and Television, ARTE, Yad Vashem Film Project, Yes Docu, MDR/SWR
DIRECTOR - YAEL HERSONSKI
Yael Hersonski was content editor of the documentary program on Channel 10 in Israel, which won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary Television Program in 2004. She now directs documentary and fictional drama programs for Israeli television. A Film Unfinished is her first feature documentary film, and was made with Senior Producer Noemi Schory and Producer Itay Ken-Tor.
SUNDANCE 2010 - BEST EDITING AWARD IN WORLD DOCUMENTARY CINEMA〡HOT DOCS 2010 - BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE AWARD〡BERLINALE 2010〡JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL 2010〡SILVERDOCS FILM FESTIVAL 2010〡FULL FRAME 2010〡MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2010〡TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
"Remarkable as much for its speculative restraint as for its philosophical reach. Moving methodically reel by reel and acknowledging the “many layers of reality,” the director creates a palimpsest of impressions from multiple, meticulously researched sources representing both victims and oppressors... Carefully pairing actual scenes with the journal descriptions (the film’s editing, by Joëlle Alexis, is astonishingly exact), 'A Film Unfinished' is really an exploration of watching — or, more precisely, of the difference between watching and seeing."
- New York Times