I skipped ANITA, which is fantastic (might see it Wednesday) but I'd already seen it in Jewfest North. Instead I just showed up for one movie, the Slovakian Holocaust movie BROKEN PROMISE. It's based on the true life story of Martin Friedmann, a young Jew (and local soccer star) in Bratislava. Sitting down to the Seder dinner in 1941, his father talks about how tough things are getting, and they all make a promise whatever happens they will meet again for the Seder next year. Of course, given the title (and knowing history), you know that promise will be broken. The thing that always strikes me about these stories is how in denial everyone is. When various family members are shipped off to Poland (Auschwitz), they rationalize that the Germans need workers because all the men are off at war. They won't kill them, they'll just make them work hard, and they're not afraid of hard work. Martin, however, survives in a Slovakian camp by...being an excellent soccer player. The guards like to watch soccer matches, and he gets extra rations for scoring goals. He's even kept off the train to Poland. But that's not his only survival technique. Number one is luck. Even bad luck works out for him, as a lung infection lands him in a hospital (he's lucky to have a camp commander who is "practical"). More luck hooks him up with a Catholic monk who hides him in a monastery. And eventually he joins the Partisans--the local band of fighters harassing the Germans while waiting for the Soviet Army. Even then, survival depends on hiding his Jewishness. It's a pretty powerful story of survival, and while it's treading ground that has been tread before (THE PIANIST, EUROPA EUROPA, etc) it still manages to stay fresh and compelling.
Running Time: 129 minutes
My Total Minutes: 210,458