Introduction 1999
Robin Williams in: 'Jakob The Liar'


The Jewish Film Week 99 is will take place between November 11 and 18, 1999 at the Imperial Kino in Vienna. For the first time it will be organised together with the Polish Film Week which starts on November 4 at the same cinema.  As usual we will not screen films on Shabbat. In that period the Polish Film Week will present films.

This years' motto is "Jewish Destinies in Films from Eastern Europe and Central Europe". Our programme wants to give an inside how Jewish people and their destinies were shown and are shown in different ideologies.

Courtesy Columbia TriStar

Because of the abundance of films we concentrate this year mainly on three countries, and we will present 15 documentaries and feature films from GDR, Poland and Hungary. As a kind of "appetizer" for the next Film Week we moreover want to show two extremely remarkable productions from countries of past USSR: Saif 58/4 (Article 58/4; a co-production Israel/Estonia, 1996, director: Pinchas Schatz) and Wsjo Choroscho (Everything is Fine, 1991, director: Juri Chaschtschewatski) from Ukraine.

The documentary film Saif 58/4 (Article 58/4)  shows the touching search of Israeli director Pinchas Schatz who tries to find - together with his mother Margalit - the story of his grandfather, an Estonian Zionist of the Thirties who was persecuted and murdered in his home country.
Vsjo Choroscho (Everything is Fine) is about the question "Shall we stay here...?" and describes sometimes with sarcastic humour the situation of Jewesses and Jews in the Ukrainian town Odessa of the early Nineties.

With the help of Columbia TriStar  Austria we will present Jakob the Liar (USA 1999, Director: Peter Kassovitz) as our opening film. The story is based on Jurek Becker's novel Jakob der Lügner. Certainly we will not withhold from our audience the GDR film Jakob der Lügner (director: Frank Beyer, 1974).

Films from GDR express a strong anti-Fascist idea. Already in 1947 director Kurt Maetzig showed in Ehe im Schatten human fate in Nazi-Germany.
One year later Erich Engel described in Affaire Blum the story of a Jewish industrialist of the Twenties who, being completely innocent, was suspected of committing a murder.
Nackt unter Wölfen (Naked Among Wolves, director: Frank Beyer, 1962) shows how a little boy was saved by inmates of Buchenwald concentration-camp.

In 1961 Polish director Andrzej Munk strated to made the feature-film Pasazerka (The Passenger), where a former inmate of a concentration-camp - years after ther liberation - meets a woman of whom she thinks to be her then guard. Director Andrzej Munk died in a car accident during the shooting , so his collaborator Witold Lesiewicz put the fragments of the film together.

Austeria (1982, director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz) takes place at the outbreak of World War I in a small village where Khassidic Jews fled because of pogroms.

Marcowe Migdaly (March Caresses; 1989, director: Radoslaw Piwowarski) tells of a friendship in Poland in 1968 and it's sudden end. Two boys - Tomek, the school photographer, and Marcys his Jewish best friend - are living in a backwater town. When Polish reactionaries begin to rail against "Zionists", Marcy and his family must leave the country.

Deborah (1995, director: Ryszard Brilski) shows the passionate love affair between the Jewess Deborah and a Polish artist at the outbreak of World War II. While Polish film-makers have, over the years, explored the lives of Gentiles and Jews caught up in the war, director Ryszard Brylski's focus is on the erotic dimensions of the relationship, which he explores to great effect.

In a special feature we would like to present the much awarded Polish-German production Fotoamator (Fotografer, 1998) in the presence of ist director Dariusz Jablonski (asked). That documentary film depicts the life in the ghetto of Lodz between 1940 and 1944 in showing archive material and colour photos shot there by a NS finance manager from Salzburg. The discussion after the screening will be dedicated to questions concerning the topic "aesthetics". Do "colors" diminish authenticity of documentary footage? Why was Schindler's List (1993) shot in black and white? Apart from scientists also artists will take part in the dicusssion.

In 1966 the following two Hungarian productions were made: Utószezon (Late Season, director: Zóltan Fábri) and Apa/Father by István Szabó. Utószezon begins with an innocent "practical joke" which later on causes terrible results. At the time of Eichmann's trial in Israel, a group of elderly Hungarians play a joke on their friend Kerekes by saying that he is wanted in a police station. This triggers the war-time memory of betraying his Jewish employers who subsequently were deported. A deep neurosis develops as Kerekes is tortured by guilt and remorse.

Apa/Father depicts the relatinship of a son to his dead father.  After World War II Takó, a young Hungarian boy, attempts to come to terms with the past and with the memory of his dead father who helped Jews in the war. With the events of 1956 Takó and his Jewish girl-friend start to re-question their parents's generation.

Jób Lázadása (Hiobs Revolte; 1983, directors: Imre Gyöngyössy and Barna Kabay) tells of a Jewish couple who adopts a little Christian boy shortly before the beginning of WW II.
In Az Örvény (Free Fall 1996) Péter Forgács presentes a stunning portrait of Hungary in the Thirties in using private videos made by a young man named György Pető.
The feature film Franciska Vasárnapjai (Every Sunday; 1997; director: Sándor Simó) shows the love story between a young Hungarian girl and a Jew. Franciska, the illegitimate daughter of a maid, falls in love with her employer, Lajos, an older and married Jewish merchant. Though separated by the war, they are reunited in the new socialist Hungary and resume their relationship.

This years Jewish Film Week is made in close co-operation with Film Archiv Austria, Polnisches Institut Wien and Ungarisches Kulturinstitut Collegium Hungaricum Wien.

For further informations please visit our Website:

Stephan Gáspár, Monika & Frédéric-Gérard Kaczek