It begins as an ordinary, if bittersweet, family event. The 98-year-old grandmother of Israeli filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger has died, and as this superb documentary opens, Goldfinger and his mother begin packing up her apartment. German Jews from Berlin, the Goldfingers emigrated to Palestine in 1937, and stayed in the new state of Israel for half a century. Letters and photos tucked in a cabinet reveal the bewildering news that in the early 1930s, the Goldfingers made their first trip to Palestine alongside a Nazi named Leopold von Mildenstein and his wife. Weirder still, a deep friendship grew between the two couples, one put on hold during the war but resumed immediately after and for years to come. A trip to Germany reveals the depths of von Mildenstein's complicity in the Holocaust and raises questions about truth and memory so provocative that moviegoers are likely to stand in the lobby debating them. When Arnon meets von Mildenstein's surviving daughter, it's clear she knows nothing of her father's war crimes. Or does she? In families, this fascinating film suggests, acknowledging or denying the darker truths of one's legacy is a choice that must be made again and again, each and every day.
The director and his mother, Hannah Goldfinger.
Opens Fri., Nov. 16 at Varsity. Rated R. 139 minutes.