TJFF 2018: War Tales 01 – Documentaries

May 15, 2018 | By

A still moment from Amir Yatziv’s Another Planet (2017).


Today’s set of short docs that screened at TJFF 2018 are themed around WWII, and the most unusual of the quartet is Amir Yatziv’s Another Planet (2017), a somewhat experimental film that interweaves a series of digital recreations of Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp built in Poland.

The creators of each work discusses the purpose of the rendering, which range from an eerie B&W full scale model derived from exact measurements of the three main sites, a VR version, and a pair of video games – the most surreal of the group.

The camp is also the central focus in Jonathan Hayoun’s Saving Auschwitz? (2017) which is ostensibly about the political maneuvers that turned a mass killing site into a museum, and whose connection to the Jewish victims was replaced with a more general Victims of Nazi Germany. Hayoun’s doc is a quiet yet sobering comment on what can befall any grave site where inhumane acts were committed and sacred remains abound: What decisions should be made to ensure the meaning of a site, its connection to future generations, and the very grounds aren’t diminished over time?

Stéphane Benhamou’s The N°5 War / The N°5 War: A Deadly Duel Behind the Dream / La guerre du N°5 (2017) delves into the history of Coco Chanel’s famous No. 5 perfume – initially aimed at the snooty set, and later sold to more middle class patrons through a marketing plan devised by its financiers, the Jewish Wertheimer brothers. Chanel’s fear of losing control of her brand as well as the perfume’s profits during WWII led to some unpleasant associations, and plotting evoking a tawdry wartime thriller.

One of the best docs this year is Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators (2017). Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s background as an editor ensures a beautiful flow & structure, but it’s the care in retelling the fantastic lives of the beloved character’s creators as they fled Nazi Germany and settled in the U.S. that yield such an affecting drama.

Coming next: reviews of Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987) and White Room (1990) + edited Q&A audio from a post-Mermaids screening with Rozema from Canadian Film Day.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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