Filmmaker explores dark family saga in "The Flat"

Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:52pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Flat," a documentary directed by Israeli writer and filmmaker, Arnon Goldfinger, uses a vacant Tel Aviv apartment as a jumping-off point for a journey through history, and a unique look at the way different generations view the Holocaust.

The film, which opens on Friday in New York followed by Los Angeles on October 24 and a subsequent national roll out, grew from a highly personal saga that Goldfinger never set out to document.

The result is a documentary about family secrets and the unlikely friendship between a high-ranking Nazi SS propaganda officer and his stylish wife, and a cultured German Jewish family who fled from Germany to Palestine before World War Two broke out.

"After my grandmother, Gerda, died at 98, I felt the urge to document her flat, because it was like a little Berlin in Tel Aviv, and I knew it would all vanish very quickly," Goldfinger, best known for his 2000 documentary "The Komediant," told Reuters in an interview.

"So I just set out to make a little short film as me and my mother and siblings went through all her belongings. It was just going to be a document of what someone leaves behind."

But as the family slowly sifted through decades of memorabilia, photographs and letters, Goldfinger discovered a Nazi newspaper that proved to be the key that unlocked a dark family secret.

"There was this story in it, ‘A Nazi in Palestine,' written by a Baron von Mildenstein, who turned out to be (Adolf) Eichmann's boss and who worked for (Joseph) Goebbels, and who had toured Palestine with my grandparents in the thirties," he recalled.

"They were good friends, even after the war, and I was a bit shocked," he said.   Continued...