CINEPHIL - as SALES All rights, World

Documentary - Completed 2010

A film about an unfinished film which portrays the people behind and before the camera in the Warsaw Ghetto, exposing the extent of the cinematic manipulation forever changing the way we look at historic images.

& Awards

Sundance Film Festival 2010
World Cinema Competition World Cinema Documentary Editing Award
Berlinale - Berlin IFF 2010
    • Year of production
    • 2010
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • ISRAEL
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 89 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Yael HERSONSKI
    • EIDR
    • 10.5240/75E4-85B1-7AD7-DAD1-0F8E-O
    • Producer(s)
    • Neomi SCHORY (Belfilms), Itay KEN-TOR (Belfilms)
    • Synopsis
    • This film is the quest for the truth behind one of the most mysterious Nazi propaganda films ever shot in the Warsaw Ghetto. The film, which was shot just a short time before the deportation of the inhabitants of the ghetto, is a rough first draft of a silent film that juxtaposes meticulously staged scenes of Jews enjoying a life of luxury in the ghetto with other, dreadful images that required no staging at all.
      Ironically, after the war, filmmakers and museums used its images as objective illustrations of the narratives they had collected from witnesses and written documents. Few people were aware of the cynical manner in which these images were created and the true yet inconceivable witness they bear. Although the cinematic deception was forgotten, the black and white images remain engraved in memory as historical truth. Documents revealing who initiated the project and why it was never completed have yet to be found.
      The film interweaves diary entries written by ghetto inhabitants during the filming with testimonies of a few living survivors who recall the days of shooting, and the protocol of the interrogation of one of the meramen. By juxtaposing the filmed scenes with this “behind the scenes” testimony, this film reveals how the Nazis used the Ghetto as a film-set, the inhabitants as actors, and the decaying bodies as exhibits.
      A Film Unfinished shakes our confidence in the photographic image and the way we think we know our history.
    • Partners & financing
    • MDR, SWR, Arte, Yes Docu, Yad Vashem, The New Foundation for Cinema and Television