Having in maverick past written and produced documentaries, I have a special affinity for its capacity for story telling, using real events and involving real people.
I also have liked the documentary’s latitude for encouraging advocacy and personal expression, which I must confess I have indulged in as an unrepentant commentator.
But most of all I have appreciated the documentary’s potential for presenting issues that challenge my personal biases, as I comment this week on 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites everywhere.
So if you have ever thought about, or frankly sought to avoid, the issue of Germany and Jews, consider finding time to get to one of the two Laemmle Theatres, in West L.A. or in Encino, to see the documentary “Germans & Jews.” It runs for a week.
The film explores the complicated relationship between Germans and Jews in postwar Germany, with Berlin a focus. As described by others and echoed here, the film is “at once uncomfortable and provocative, unexpected and enlightening.”
Beginning with a gathering of second generation Jews and non-Jewish Germans at a dinner table, the film moves from the present to the past, and back again, surveying the waxing and waning of guilt, anti Semitism, and, yes, holocaust fatigue.
Along the way we learn that Berlin and Germany have been increasingly attracting Jews, and have the fastest growing Jewish population in Europe. And that includes an influx of Israeli Jews, taking exception to their country’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Most of all we hear from both Jews and Germans of the struggle to come to terms with their tortured past, with perhaps I thought a soft touch of self satisfaction. For some it is no so easy to forget.
Whatever your roots from wherever, you more than the likely will experience the well crafted and composed film on a personal, gut level. I did, as a first generation cultural Jew from Eastern Europe.
Havjng once done a documentary on a Berlin that I knew before and after the Wall. I was snapped to attention by the film’s opening interview consisting of the quote: “My father said there are two kinds of people in the world: Jews and Nazis. “
It was what my “shtarker” father had similarly barked on awkward occasions, and that I had purposefully forgotten at the urging of my mother, who counseled that the mark of a survivor is not to look back.
But as the documentary Germans & Jews reminded me, sometimes you do.