Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jason goes to Jewfest South--Wed. Nov 11th

Once again, I've been too busy and fallen too far behind in my updates. Anyway, one show down at the Camera 7 in Campbell just over a week ago. A Holocaust short and feature (what's a Jewish film festival without some Holocaust films?)

The short was TOYLAND, an amusing and touching story of a German boy who sees his Jewish friends packing for a trip. He asks his mom where they're going, so she explains they're moving for Toyland. So of course he wants to go, too. So much so that he tries to sneak away on the train with them. Spoiler alert--they're not really going to Toyland.

That led into the feature documentary, MENACHEM AND FRED (which happens to be the movie I was most disappointed to miss at Jewfest North. That's something I can almost always count on SVJFF to pick up). Menachem Mayer and Fred Raymes (an anagram of Mayer...with an extra S) are brothers. They were born in Germany, but moved to an orphanage in France when their parents were taken away). At the end of the war, Fred was 16 and Menachem was 13. Fred wanted to move to the U.S., where he Anglicized his name (he wasn't born Fred) and scrambled his last name and assimilated well. But Menachem became enraptured with Zionism and moved to Palestine (later Israel) and continued his traditional Jewish life. 60 years later, they reconnected, and that's what the movie is about. It's not necessarily a joyful reunion, they barely know each other anymore and there's a lot of tension. Much of it seems to come from the fact that when their parents left, they told Fred to take care of his little brother, and while they survived the Holocaust, they separated shortly after and Fred is carrying some guilt. The movie also follows them as they visit sites of their ordeal, bringing back painful memories that both had buried long ago. One of the more interesting points was looking at the concentration camp where they were kept in France. There weren't any Germans in charge there, this was run by the French collaborationist government. I always find it interesting that when you look at the individual Holocaust stories there's always so much more than the simple "Germans were all evil" story we always hear. A very interesting and moving story.

Sadly, I attended the wrong screening. If I had seen this the next Sunday (when I was busy anyway) I could've met Fred Raymes himself and heard him speak. But as it is, all I got was this very good movie.

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