A stunning new documentary goes into limited release today, taking a different and absorbing look at the Holocaust. Dubbed A Film Unfinished, the piece, from Israeli director Yael Hersonski, revolves around a never-completed German propaganda film called “Das Ghetto.” Shot in 1942, the silent film contrasted Jews living in luxury in the Warsaw ghetto, with the poor ones in the street. For years, it was seen as flawed but authentic—until new footage uncovered in 1998 revealed that all the scenes showing privileged Jews were staged.
Hersonski’s film examines “Das Ghetto” reel-by-reel. She interviews one cameraman, and reads from diaries of the ghetto’s residents. In one scene, she shows the film to survivors of the ghetto, and films their horrified reactions. Critics are predictably wild about the project. It’s “remarkable as much for its speculative restraint as for its philosophical reach,” marvels Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times, while Lisa Schwarzbaum of EW applauds Hersonski for her exacting research, which "is its own tribute to those no longer able to testify.”