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Review: Germans & Jews

Germans & Jews is a weird little idea of a film because it is very much about something, (that something being Germans and Jews), but it is really about far more than this idea. In fact, this something more is probably why it receives a theatrical release, this week at the Ted Rogers Hot Docs Theatre.

The film is very much about a response to violence. Yet is very much non-violent. It feels like a dinner party, with guests advancing their positions in a spirit of friendliness and collaboration. There are Jews and non-Jewish Germans and an open forum for dialogue. Everything is very much out in the open.

Yet the conclusion, if there is one, is that the past is in the past. We must move on from our violent history that we share and go towards a more peaceful, idyllic experience. There is much discussion about historical revisionism, as the idea that this Germany is evolved from the one of previous generations is very much at the forefront of the argument presented by the guests of director Janina Quint, both the Germans and the Jews.

Well, that argument feels a little empty in light of the idea of survivor fatigue. Very soon, there will be not many personal survivors of the Shoah, and then films like Germans & Jews (and interestingly, a Jewish scholar at the forefront of the film is since passed. The argument that the film either does not consider, (or perhaps is afraid to consider) is that the potential for forgiveness and compromise is far more difficult when combatants forget for what they fought.

This is why the film takes on such a significance, because Syrian immigrants could have been at its core, or Chechnyans, or any sort of outsider / insider conflict. The past weighs on our mind when it is recent history. When it becomes confined to the dustbins of memory, the conflict repeats itself endlessly throughout time. It just has a new title.

[star v=35]