Three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany, in search of a cave where they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan ... See full summary »

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Three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany, in search of a cave where they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan landscapes, straddles the boundary between history and myth, and the result of which is a profound portrait of memory and history.

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4 May 2017 (Germany)  »

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Shlosha akhim ou'me'ara  »

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Fascinating documentary about three brothers who survived the Holocaust
18 July 2017 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Shalom Italia (2016) is a documentary written, produced, and directed by Tamar Tal.

This documentary is truly fascinating. Three Jewish brothers--with other family members--survived the Holocaust by hiding in a cave in the Tuscan countryside. Now in their late 70's and early 80's, they decide to return to the location to find the cave.

Director Tal is related by marriage to the family, and she helped organize the trip. In fact, it appears that she told the brothers that the trip was going to be her next documentary project, so she really needed them to participate. It's unlikely that they would have made the trip if she hadn't prodded them into doing so. (Family ties are strong.)

The three men have all been successful. However, each one has his own personality. This fact becomes clear as they struggle to find the site. It's interesting to me that they really got absorbed by the project, so they didn't pay attention to the camera. (Director Tal says that younger people are very aware of the camera, and tend to act for it. These three brothers simply moved forward as if no camera were there.)

Not only is the quest itself fascinating, but we also get glimpses of people who helped them survive. Finally, I can't end this review without mentioning the great food that they buy, prepare, and eat along the way. It would be hard to watch the movie and not crave Italian food afterwards!

Director Tal came all the way from Israel to present her film and have a Q&A session after the screening. She's absolutely charming. One of my friends has met with her personally, and he told me that this wasn't an act to make the audience like her. She really is a fine person.

We saw this movie at the excellent Dryden Theatre in the George Eastman Museum. It was shown as part of the outstanding Rochester International Jewish Film Festival. I don't have to talk up the RIJFF, because most of the movies were sold out. Even so, I need to tell people in Upstate New York that this is where they should be in mid-July 2018. The films were great, the people were great, and the organizing was great. My compliments to all.


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