Not just a Holocaust film, but one that’s also about an artist, the wandering life of the Jew in worlds where he’s never entirely at home, and the search (on the parts of his far-flung progeny) for the identity of their elusive, chameleon-like father whose traces extend to three diverse cultures: Jewish/Israeli, German, Anglo-Australian.
Vitch is a fascinating film exploring the nature of humor and humanity through the compelling narrative of a Jewish man whose artistic talents led him to stay hidden in full sight of Hitler during the Nazi era. Watching this unimaginable story unfold of this wandering comedian pulls you into a world of being lost and found as the protagonist’s family try to make sense of his journey and the lives that emerged in the aftermath of that painful time in our collective lives.
What constitutes heroic behavior? If it means only fighting for others or for a greater cause, OK. But in the context of the Holocaust, wasn’t there a degree of heroism in the very act of surviving? In Vitch’s case, the refusal to register as a Jew in France meant not simply that he could work alongside Maurice Chevalier at the Casino de Paris; it can also be seen as an act of resistance against Nazi orders.
Excerpt from Insdorf’s preface to the book “Vitch” by Sigal Bujman (companion book to the movie – available for purchase soon)
For two and a half years Bujman and Pingry researched and filmed in seven countries (Germany, US, Australia, Israel, Poland, England and France). A cinematic treasure — sometimes disturbing and always riveting — Vitch is an important work of personal investigative journalism and contemporary history that can serve as the catalyst for numerous conversations about ethics, personal responsibility and the human quest for survival. Upon completion, it was immediately accepted to international film festivals in Sydney, Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Montevideo…” as well as California Mill Valley and Seattle. Read the whole article here
Bravo. It’s very moving and so wonderfully nuanced. It tells a great story yet with all the ambiguities evident in the occupation experience, for Jews and for everyone else.
The director leaves us with the impression that he’s no hero and was a psychologically scarred figure, but can’t fault him for trying to survive in the way he thought best. Bujman points out he loved performing and making people laugh and was determined to survive the war by doing what he loved best. She mentions he did not escape unscathed, as he suffered from nightmares and bouts of depression for the rest of his life after the war. She thinks it’s best that he not be judged but rather he should be looked upon as another victim of the Holocaust, one with his own unique survival story.
Dennis Schwartz Reviews – see full review below