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Three Italian Jewish brothers search for the cave where they hid from the Nazis
On the run from Nazis, three Italian Jewish brothers spent months during their childhood hiding in a cave in the Tuscan countryside. Nearly 70 years later, after emigrating to Israel, the three reunite in the country they were forced to abandon and rediscover their hiding place. “For years I’ve wanted to find that cave, the place to which we owe our lives,” says Bubi, the youngest of the trio.
Amid hearty Tuscan meals and sweeping landscapes, the octogenarians’ quest unexpectedly swells with humor and clashing memories in Shalom Italia. Directed by Tamar Tal Anati, the film has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, July 24 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on the PBS documentary series POV (Point of View). POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, now in its 30th season. The feature film will follow the Oscar®-nominated short Joe’s Violin, in which a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor and a 12-year-old Bronx school girl.
Retracing their steps, the brothers in Shalom Italia are as different as can be. Emmanuel, the oldest and a world-renowned anthropologist and archaeologist based in Israel, simply recalls misery and only agrees to the journey to make Bubi happy. “Why search for it? I don’t want to remember,” he says.
Meanwhile, Andrea, an athletic physicist just two years younger than Emmanuel, remembers an enchanted childhood: “Those were wonderful times. We lived in the woods, played Robin Hood and collected mushrooms. I had fun during the Holocaust.”
However, Bubi, 4 1/2 at the time, barely remembers the cave. “I don’t know whether family stories and my memories overlapped. It’s all a bit vague.”
“It’s human for our memories—personal or shared—to become a source of our identity,” said filmmaker Tamar Tal Anati. “Whether that memory comes from one ‘truth’ is explored by Bubi, Emmanuel and Andrea. Often it seems any particular moment can only be accurately constructed when everyone is involved, as each person’s particular recollection of an event helps piece together a larger mosaic of a shared experience. I hope Shalom Italia will inspire American audiences to reexamine their own stories and history.”
Unalike as they are, Bubi, Andrea and Emmanuel are undoubtedly brothers. They bicker over driving directions, recipes and how exactly their time in the cave should be remembered. Probing the boundaries between history and myth, the brothers soon learn their memories are not so easily unraveled. They can’t agree whether the family hid valuables with a village neighbor, or whether the bow and arrows they played with in the woods were bought at a store or fashioned by hand. “History is full of doubts,” Emmanuel, says, to which Bubi impatiently replies, “You keep doubting and contradicting everything and saying it’s not true over and over again.”
“More than 70 years after the Holocaust, the youngest survivors are advancing in age. Both Joe’s Violin and Shalom Italia raise compelling questions about how we will continue passing on that generation’s memories,” said POV executive producer Justine Nagan. “In Joe’s Violin, those connections are made across cultural and economic lines, reminding us how often our lives are woven together across common divides. On the other hand, Shalom Italia compels us to probe the limits of memory and recognize its inherent malleability.” Nagan continued, “Despite the gravity of the history, both films are immensely enjoyable and uplifting work that speak to the resiliency of humankind.”
Shalom Italia and Joe’s Violin will stream online on pov.org in concurrence with their broadcast.
About the Filmmaker:
Tamar Tal Anati, Director/Producer/Writer
Tamar Tal Anati is an award-winning filmmaker with more than 20 international awards. Her documentary Life in Stills won the Award of the Israeli Film Academy—Israel’s highest film award—for Best Documentary in 2012 and was named best film at the Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv. She was also named best new director at the Dok Leipzig international film festival in 2011.
Director: Tamar Tal Anati; Producers: Tamar Tal Anati, Tina Leeb, Jürgen Kleinig; Executive Producer: Hilla Medalia: Editor: Boaz Leon; Writer: Tamar Tal Anati; Cinematographer: Emmanuelle Mayer; Soundtrack: Kai Tebbel; Music: Kobi Vitman; Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan, Chris White
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About Joe’s Violin:
In the Oscar®-nominated Joe’s Violin, a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Bronx schoolgirl Brianna Perez, proving that the power of music can bring light into the darkest of times, and that a small act can have a significant impact. Nominated, 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.
About the Filmmaker:
Kahane Cooperman is a documentary filmmaker and television producer. She is currently the executive producer and showrunner of a project with RadicalMedia for SundanceTV. Prior, she was the executive producer and showrunner of The New Yorker Presents, a series with Jigsaw Productions for Amazon Prime, and a co-executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. For her work at the latter, she received eleven Primetime Emmy awards and two Peabody awards. She directed and produced several documentaries prior to Joe’s Violin, including Cool Water, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and Making Dazed about Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, which was broadcast on AMC and acquired by the Criterion Collection. Cooperman also produced the feature doc Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, directed by Nick Broomfield. Cooperman has an MFA in film from Columbia University.
Joe’s Violin Credits: Director: Kahane Cooperman; Producers: Kahane Cooperman, Raphaela Neihausen; Executive Producer: Peter Kenney; Editors: Amira Dughri, Andrew Saunderson; Composer: Gary Meister; Director of Photography: Bob Richman; Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan, Chris White