Israeli Film Engages with Notorious Nazi “Documentary” about Warsaw Ghetto

Films produced during the National Socialist era are difficult to deal with, especially films that purport to be “documentaries.” It’s hard to tell what was part of the propaganda machine and what was not. For many decades, an unfinished “documentary” about the Warsaw Ghetto, titled “Das Ghetto,” was mined by historians and journalists when supposedly authentic images of life in the Ghetto were required. In 1998, film historians discovered a reel with about 30 minutes of outtakes that proved the careful staging of many scenes thought to be authentic.

Israeli director Yael Hersonski’s “A Film Unfinished” addresses the question of authenticity in the 1942 film and presents an intriguing filmic investigation of a visual text that was long considered to be an objective window into a horrific historical episode. Read the NYT review here and watch the trailer here.

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