A Film Unfinished

May 03, 2011

by

Yael Hersonski

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About the Documentary

At the end of WWII, 60 minutes of raw film was discovered intact in an East German archive. Shot by the Nazis in Warsaw in May 1942, and labeled simply “Das Ghetto,” this footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto.

In 1998, another reel was discovered that radically complicated the scholarly interpretation of “Das Ghetto.” The footage, in which glimpses of the Nazi filmmakers can be seen when they accidentally step into each others’ shots, makes clear the great extent to which the Reich’s propagandists staged the scenes in the unfinished film that came to be known as “Das Ghetto.”

A Film Unfinished presents the raw footage of the latter reel in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing “the good life” enjoyed by Jewish urbanites. We also glimpse the filmmakers forcing some of the more prosperous Jewish inhabitants to ignore the corpses lying in the streets.

Without forcing any conclusions about what the object of the propaganda film, director Yael Hersonski offers insight into how what we believe to be definitive and historical is not always what it appears to be.


The Filmmaker

Yael Hersonski

Yael Hersonski was content editor of the documentary program on Channel 10 in Israel, which won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary Television Program in 2004. She now directs documentary and fictional drama programs for Israeli television. A Film Unfinished is her first feature documentary film, and was made with Senior Producer Noemi Schory and Producer Itay Ken-Tor.

Full Credits

Awards

  • 2010 Sundance Film Festival

    World Cinema Documentary Editing Award

Join the Discussion

How much faith do you put in what your eyes — and the “experts” — tell you is true?

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