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The Flat (2011) הדירה 

When is a documentary not only a documentary but also a thriller? When the director Arnon Goldfinger is the grandson of the couple in question who had lived in the flat for over 70 years, and he discovers, day-by-day, frame-by- frame, the hidden, shocking realities of his grandparent’s lives. What began as Arnon, alone, filming the dismantling of his maternal grandparents’ (Kurt and Gerda Tuchler) apartment, ended as a German-Israeli coproduction which won international acclaim. Avner Shavit called The Flat “one of the best Israeli documentaries ever made” and he added “one of the most exciting documents on the Shoah.”

Amidst the German books, the mountain of suitcases, 50 pairs of gloves and shoes, banking and sales receipts of a lifetime, appears a newspaper article about his grandfather and a certain high Nazi official, Leopold von Mildenstein who toured Israel with his grandfather in the 1930s. The two couples, Kurt and Gerda Tuchler and the von Mildensteins were to become good friends, visiting and travelling together before and after World War II. Arnon’s mother Hannah, the Tuchler’s only child and her parents immigrated to Tel Aviv in 1933. She knows absolutely nothing about her parents’ relationship with the German couple. Gradually daughter and grandson become aware of the strong bond between the two couples. How could that be? How could the Tuchlers re-establish the friendship after the Holocaust?

Arnon and Hannah go to Germany. They meet with the daughter of the von Mildensteins. She knows of the Tuchlers, has fond memories of them. But, of her father’s career and his role during the War, she says he was a journalist. Indeed! The subject matter of the film is unbelievable, the artistry of the story-telling exceptional; but, most of all, the viewer is left to ponder the complexities of the issues, of repression and denial; and wonder at the deep emotional impact that this true story has on the viewer.

The film is in Hebrew, German and English with English subtitles.

Reviewed by Dolores Luber

These movies are available free from the Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library at the JCC.

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