A Film Unfinished

A Film Unfinished

  • BY Yael Hersonski | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered May 3, 2011

About the Film

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. MORE

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. LESS

Film Credits

Written and Directed by

Yael Hersonski


Joëlle Alexis

Director of Photography

Itai Neeman


Ishai Adar

Sound Design

Aviv Aldema

Itay Ken-Tor
Noemi Schory

Hanna Avrutzki
Luba Gewisser
Jurek (David) Plonski
Aliza Vitis-Shomron
Shula Zeder

Diary Extracts
Adam Czerniakow
read by Janusz Hamerszmit
Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum read by Eliezer Niborski
Chaim Kaplan read by Alexander Senderovich
Abraham Lewin read by Mendy Cahan
Rachel Auerbach read by Hava Alberstein
Jonas Turkow read by Gera Sandler
Ben Shem read by Alexander Senderovich
Hersh Waser read by Mendy Cahan

Auerswald's Reports read by Axel Thielmann

Felicitas Piwaronas
Jaffa Ganor
Yael Hersonski

Scientific Consultant

Ronny Loewy

Additional Cinematography
Yossi Aviram

Sound Recording

Amos Tzipori

Markus Czernohorsky

Rona Kenan

Colorist and Online Editor
Steve Sebban

Reconstruction Actors
Rüdiger Vogler
Alexander Beyer

Casting and First A.D.
Beryl Schennen

Delegate Producers —Germany
Christian Bauer
Dagmar Biller

Delegate Producer — Poland
Ewa Puszczyńska

Production Manager — Poland
Agneiszka Wasiak

Margalit Hersonski
Natalie Meltzer
Eliezer Niborski
Benjamin Rosendahl
Moris Tzorf

Sharon Shama Studios
Wojciech Cholaściński (Poland)

Sound Studios

D.B Studios

Music Performed by
Clarinet — Ilan Schul
Cello — Hila Karni
Orchestration — Boaz Schory

CinePostproduction GmbH
Geyer Berlin

Postproduction Image

Opus Productions

Director and D.O.P. Represtation
Kneller Artists Agency Ltd.

Actor Represtation
Players Agentur Management GmbH

Production Managers
Michal Avni
Nadav Noah
Alona Schory

Commissioning Editors
Katja Wildermuth – MDR
Martina Zöllner – SWR
Guy Lavie – YES Docu

Giyora Yahalom – YES Docu


Cinephil Distribution & Coproduction

Bundesarchiv/Transit Films
Progress Film-Verleih GMBH

Special Thanks
Liran Atzmor
Mimi Ash
James Barker
Giles Bennet
Riki Bodenheimer
Bernd Boll
Marieanne Bregmann
Tobias Bütow
Stefan Carl-Mcgrath
CoPro Documentary Marketing Foundation RA
Raye Farr
Hans Peter Frenz
Foundation for Prussian Castles and Parks, Berlin-Brandenburg
Koby Gal Raday
Haim Gertner
Cooper C. Graham
Greenhouse / Euromed Audiovisual Programme
Roei Greenwald
Dr. Karl Griep
Annette Griesbach
Hans-Gunter Voigt
Elisabeth Heiber
Dr. Kay Hoffmann
Anja Horstmann
The Jerusalem Cinematheque
Wolfgang Klaue
Andreas Mix
Stefan Müller
Munster Municipal Archives
NRW Archives
Manfred Oldenburg
Dr. Rainer Rother
Dr. Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Ringelblum Jewish Historic Institute, Warsaw
Katriel Schory
The Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archives
Leslie Swift
The Tel Aviv Cinematheque
Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television
R.S.H. Tryster
Sylvia Überlee
Dr.Daniel Uziel
Dr. Martina Werth-Mühl
Adrian Wood
Yung Yiddish Culture Centre

Funding Provided by
The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and Televison

Yad Vashem Film Project

A Film Unfinished is a co-production of Bellfilms, Inc.,
YES Docu, MDR, and SWR in cooperation with Arte.

This program was produced by Belfilms, Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 Belfilms, LTD. All rights reserved.

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


  • 2010 Sundance Film Festival
    World Cinema Documentary Editing Award


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