Organized by the Jewish community in cooperation with the Institute for the History of German Jews and the Abaton-Kino starts the Hamburg Jewish Film Days on Sunday. Films from the USA, Russia, Israel and Germany are on the program until August 12th.
Jewish Film Days Hamburg: modest and demanding
It’s a humble beginning, not an opulent festival like the one in Berlin. On the other hand, the bar for the selection for the Jewish Film Days Hamburg was relatively high, emphasizes Andreas Brämer, acting director of the Institute for the History of German Jews: “The more films you show, the more compromises you have to make. And I am very happy that that we can make this choice, which we made by consensus. “
Andreas Brämer is familiar with the subject. He has been in charge of the Jewish film club of the Institute for the History of German Jews since 2012. His personal favorite for the Hamburg Film Festival, which is now starting, is the Russian feature film “The Humorist” by Mikhail Idov.
“The Humorist”: Film about the situation of Jews in the USSR
The focus is on a famous comedian who travels through the USSR in 1984 and makes the audience laugh, while he himself doubts more and more and is monitored by the Soviet secret service KGB. “The film basically addresses the ambivalent social situation of Jews in the Soviet Union. On the one hand, Jews had the opportunity to be socially successful and also to advance professionally. On the other hand, it is a person who is always with them in everyday life Anti-Semitism, which is deeply anchored in the political system, is being faced. “
The Russian-language film is particularly interesting for Jews with a migration background from the former Soviet Union, said Brämer. Perhaps they would find a piece of their own past in it.
Films for young audiences too
The German feature film “A wet dog” by Damir Lukačević is aimed at a younger audience. Felix Grassmann from Abaton-Kino is pleased that it was possible to show him in a preview. Inspired by the autobiography of Arye Sharuz Shalica, a son of Iranian Jews who moves to Berlin-Wedding with his family, the film tells how the 16-year-old hides his Jewish background for fear of becoming an outsider. He even joins a youth gang run by a Muslim.
“There is this beautiful quote from Arye Sharuz Shalicar:” For the Germans I was a Kanak, for the Muslims a Jew, for the Jews a criminal youth from Wedding. “That describes this position of sitting between all stools very nicely. That’s why, I think, it’s a very topical and very explosive and also very successful film, “says Grassmann.
“Finally Tacheles” causes discussions
The documentary “Endlich Tacheles” by Jana Matthes and Andrea Schramm is also explosive. The film caused controversial discussions at the DokFest in Munich and Kassel. It’s about the Shoah and its effects on the third generation, i.e. the grandchildren of the Holocaust survivors. Two young men, a Jew and a non-Jew, want to develop a computer game together that deals with the subject. Inspired by her own family history, the focus is on a Jewish girl and an SS officer.
“The way it is portrayed is very controversial. Sometimes provocative. But I think it’s important to show a documentary like this just to talk about it,” said Elisabeth Fiedler from the Hamburg Jewish Community, who was involved in the selection of the film . “For me, the problem with the film was that the game provided for the SS officer to be able to change his behavior, that is, to do good. And then the question is: does this also put history into perspective? But that is exactly what can and should be done about it to discuss. “
Room for conversations, discussions and introductions in the Abaton cinema
The Jewish Film Days invite you to hold talks and discussions with guests after the screenings in the Abaton cinema. There are also introductions to some films, such as the two comedies “Honeymood” by Talya Lawie from Israel and “An American Pickle” from the USA. “In the comedies we have selected, there is a fine, subtle sense of humor that tends to turn into the absurd. I don’t know if that can be called Jewish humor, but you can find it more often in films by Jewish directors like Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch, “said Grassmann.
But as in all comedies, there is seriousness in these films. The first Jewish Film Days in Hamburg will take place as part of the festival year 2021 – 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. The organizers would like a sequel in the coming year – maybe a little bigger and, if possible, without a mask.