The Last Survivor 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
So far, the buzz this year at the 27th Jerusalem Film Festival, which ends on
Saturday night, is about the documentaries. There are so many excellent ones,
both from Israel and abroad, on a wide variety of topics.
been talking about Budrus, a movie competing in the “In the Spirit of Freedom”
competition for films about human rights issues.
Directed by Julia Bacha,
who codirected the equally fine film, Encounter Point
(2006), it looks at a West
Bank village where the residents use peaceful means to protest Israel’s
construction of the security fence.
We’ve all seen demonstrations that
turn into riots and end with casualties, but it’s rare to see non-violent
The film, which features interviews with villagers behind the
protests and also with Israeli soldiers given the unenviable task of trying to
disburse the demonstrators. Although it shows Israeli troops using force to
break up the demonstrations, it also shows footage of bus bombings and makes
very clear that the purpose of the fence is to protect civilians.
message of the film, which sets it apart from many movies that vilify the IDF,
is that the villagers’ months of protests paid off, and they were successful in
convincing the Israeli government to change the route of the fence, so it did
not cut them off from most of their land. As one interviewee says, “Nothing
scares the IDF more than non-violent protests,” and, apparently, nothing is more
persuasive. To learn more about the film, go to the Website at
No filmmaker at the festival has worked
harder to bring her film to the light of day than Sandra Schulberg, who is here
with the documentary, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today
Restoration], which she brought back to life.
director Stuart Schulberg, worked for the OSS Field Photo/War Crimes Unit,
amassing photographic and filmic evidence of Nazi crimes after World War II in
preparation for the Nuremberg trial.
For the US War Department, he then
made the official documentary about the Nuremberg trial of the top Nazi war
criminals. This documentary was shown widely in Germany in 1948 and 1949, since
its initial purpose was to explain to the German people why allied prosecution
teams were putting their leaders on trial. And then the film virtually
“The Defense Department, which up until then had been called
the Department of War, decided not to release it in the US,” says
She cites several reasons for this odd decision, the first of
which was that it was considered “too complex – now the Russians were our
enemies, not the Germans.” A second factor was that some in the Defense
Department were queasy about putting military officers on trial.
worried that the atrocity footage would be too shocking for ordinary
while there were other, political concerns that showing the film would
support for the Marshall Plan, which included rebuilding Germany and
jumpstarting its economy.
Whatever the reasons, the English language
version was never properly completed and “the film languished for
Schulberg knew about it because of her father, but he died young and
spoke about it. But when she saw the German version of it in 2004, she
“This is one of the greatest anti-war films of all time, as well as
historical importance." For more than five years, she struggled to
picture negative and reconstruct the soundtrack for the documentary.
finished film had its world premiere at The Hague in November, then was
the Berlin Film Festival. The next stop for the movie after Jerusalem is
York Film Festival this fall and then a theatrical release. For more information
on the film, visit the Website at www.nurembergfilm.org
Another documentary that
has received enthusiastic responses is The Last Survivor, which was
Michael Pertnoy, a guest at the festival, and Michael Kleiman.
complex film weaves together the stories of several survivors and
These include Hedi Fried, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who
support groups for survivors of genocide and their children; Jacqueline
Murekatete, a survivor of the massacres in Rwanda; Justin Semahoro
who saw many members of his tribe perish in killings in the Congo; and
Bashar, who fled Darfur and now works for the Tel Aviv municipality. The film’s
Website is www.thelastsurvivor.com