Lost Footage Provides A Second Glance At One Of Humanity's Darkest Moments

With her award winning documentary, A Film Unfinished, director Yael Heronski exposes the Nazi propaganda machine.

Closing out the Spring Documentary Film Series on April 11 is another controversial and insightful film that examines one of the darkest moments in human history. Fred Gross, an educator and docent at the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove will be on hand at to answer questions and discuss first time feature length director Yael Heronski's award winning work, A Film Unfinished.

“This has been our most successful season. The series keeps growing in attendance and gaining momentum,” said committee member Lynn Bolyn. “We have gotten a lot of 'this is the best line-up ever' comments, a lot of calls for information, visits to the website and Facebook page.”

A Film Unfinished exposes the horror behind Nazi propaganda with exclusive, never before seen raw footage of the Warsaw ghetto. Shot in May of 1942 and originally labeled simply as “Das Ghetto”, the footage became a resource for historians. Several years later, the discovery of a missing reel shed new light on the truth and motivation behind the film.

“My interest in the archival footage from the Holocaust stems also from the fact that World War II not only confronted humanity with inconceivable atrocities but also produced and carried, for the first time, a systematical, obsessive cinematic documentation of that horror,” said Mrs. Hersonski in a recent press release.I've always sensed that archival footage, unlike the paper document, bears a much more layered testimony regarding the reality it documents, a testimony that remains forever open for investigation.  I was haunted by the idea of exploring the silent images–not as illustrations enslaved by different stories–but as story tellers themselves.”

The lost footage includes multiple takes and staged fictional scenes by the Nazis in their attempt to represent “the good life” of the Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto. One such scene includes a staged dinner party sequence. The recovered reel exposes the Nazis trying to justify and advance their horrific plans in what they believed would be perceived as “a favorable light.”

“The atrocities committed by the Nazis were photographed more extensively than any evils, before or after,” said Hersonski.

In addition to it’s haunting imagery, the film features commentaries by both ghetto inhabitants and the Nazi cameramen that filmed the events. 

“For me, it begins with the victim’s gaze into the camera. That gaze contains what is perhaps the only emotional truth not crushed under the wheels of propaganda, the only truth that cannot be possessed and that remains forever, as if to testify: “I was there, I existed in this world that words cannot describe.” said Mrs. Hersonski.

 A Film Unfinished is unrated and runs 89 minutes in length. The Village Cinema will once again take place at at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. For more information on the film, visit the official website at www.afilmunfinished.com.


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