‘Nonetheless Life in Lodz’ evaluation: A Jewish girl revisits her previous

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If an image is value a thousand phrases, it’s additionally value a documentary impressed by one. That might be director Slawomir Grünberg’s shifting and evocative “Nonetheless Life in Lodz,” which facilities round a portray that hung in the identical tenement condominium in Lodz, Poland, for 75 years. It additionally turned a form of touchstone for younger Lilka Elbaum, who beheld the staid portrait of fruit, flowers, wine and extra, daily for her first 19 years, from 1949 to 1968. That was when she and her household lived in stated condominium, a roomy, then-desirable place that missed a busy thoroughfare in entrance and a quieter courtyard in again.

Within the movie, Elbaum, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, returns to Lodz (pronounced “Woodge”), as soon as Poland’s second most populous Jewish metropolis, to revisit the Kilinskiego Avenue condominium wherein she grew up and to trace down the portray she’d by no means forgotten. However her journey evolves right into a deeper look again at Lodz’s fraught historical past, together with how the Nazi invasion of 1939 decimated the town’s Jewish citizenry and the way the anti-Semitism that prevailed within the a long time after World Battle II formed Lodz — and Elbaum’s life. (She and her household had been pressured to go away Poland — and the portray — in 1968, throughout which period the federal government had dubbed Jews “the enemy of the state”; the Elbaums settled in Canada, with Lilka later shifting to the U.S.)

However Elbaum, who narrates and co-wrote with Grünberg, isn’t the one one within the movie with familial ghosts to discover in Lodz. She invitations two compatriots to affix her in entrance of the cameras: New Yorker Paul Celler, whose mom miraculously survived her wartime deportation to the Lodz Ghetto and, later, the Auschwitz focus camp; and Israeli artist Roni Ben Ari, whose household’s thriving textile store was as soon as situated on the bottom ground of Elbaum’s childhood condominium constructing.

Collectively and individually, the three return to varied websites in and round Lodz the place they relive and unravel a mixture of tough and illuminating tales of Holocaust-era life by the lingering reminiscences of their ancestors.

Elbaum spends important time in her household condominium, now simply one in every of many empty, light models within the uncared for, 1893-built advanced. Its former grandeur can nonetheless be imagined and it sparks a wealth of recollections. She additionally recounts her seek for the nonetheless life portray’s unique proprietor, a groundbreaking Jewish girl dentist who perished within the Holocaust, in addition to her monitoring down of the portrait’s present proprietor in suburban Lodz.

In one other vivid sequence, Elbaum visits a farm within the Polish countryside the place in 1942 her mom, about to be despatched to the Treblinka dying camp, was fortuitously taken in by a sympathetic Gentile household, the Chorazkiewiczes, and hidden from the Nazis for two 1/2 years. It’s a exceptional story made much more so by Elbaum’s heat reunion with the Chorazkiewiczes’ prolonged household each on the farm and again in Lodz.

Celler has some particularly highly effective moments when he goes to historic Radegast Station, which was the arrival level for Jews deported to the Lodz Ghetto and the departure website for these being taken to the extermination camps. When Celler steps onto one of many station’s preserved cattle vehicles, the type his mom will need to have boarded for Auschwitz, it’s chilling and intense.

Extra joyfully, Celler, a self-taught musical virtuoso, will get a uncommon probability to play the piano contained in the opulent palace of the late Jewish textile magnate and philanthropist, Izrael Poznanski.

Ben Ari, whose roots in Lodz precede these of Elbaum and Celler (her household left Poland for Romania in 1926 earlier than settling in Israel), enjoys a transporting tour of the third-floor Kilinskiego Avenue condominium the place her father and grandfather as soon as lived. She additionally touchingly locations the menorah she’d inherited from her grandfather on the condominium windowsill the place it as soon as sat, reminding us, because the movie usually does, of the everlasting worth of mementos — and reminiscences — handed down by the generations.

Grünberg successfully incorporates archival images and pictures, drawings, and lyrical, illustrative bits of animation into this transient however wealthy documentary, which ends on a beautiful word that brings Elbaum’s journey full circle.

‘Nonetheless Life in Lodz’

In Polish and English with English subtitles.

Not rated

Operating time: 1 hour, 16 minutes

Enjoying: Begins March 12, Laemmle Digital Cinema

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