Release Date: December 8, 2017
Venue: Regal Cinema Beach Boulevard
Running Time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
Directed By: Alon and Shaul Schwarz
You could trust her with anything. She was kind and very sweet. She was very secretive.
Aida was 14 years when Germany invaded Poland. At age 20, she found herself in the Bergen Belsen camp as a displaced refugee with a husband and two sons. Years later Izak Szewelewicz became more curious regarding his genealogy since he was raised in Palestine by foster parents. He loved his parents and two foster siblings but as the years passed he couldn’t deny is thirst for knowledge regarding his birth parents and brother. When he was a young boy his birth mother, Aida, came from Canada to visit him but was very evasive regarding her past. Assisted in his journey by archives, My Heritage, and his nephews (who wrote and directed the documentary), Izak tracks down the birth certificates of his biological parents and a biological brother. With much anticipation and excitement Izak flew to Canada to meet his brother Shep Shell. After a heartwarming reunion, the two brothers continue their quest to know the truth behind Aida’s secrets. They learn that she resides in a nursing home two hours away from where Shep lives. Their visit with her is only one step in their attempt to dig up the circumstances of their separation and ends up leaving the brothers with more questions than answers.
What’s in the past is in the past.
Driven by the passion of familial bonds, this documentary exposes the feelings of individuals who were born during a horrific war and survived but were forever affected by decisions made by people who were deeply wounded mentally instead of physically. The 95 minutes running time makes the documentary seem very similar to a full length film and I knew that the content was gripping when my computer crashed and I was desperately awaiting a reboot to continue the last segment of the film. In the first segment, Izak’s cheerful attitude along with his reaction to being reunited with his brother is priceless. In the second segment, Shep’s torment over his abandonment issues is palpable especially after several visits with Aida that revealed very little. The extended family interviews, ambiguous photos from the 1940’s, a DNA test, and conflicting information compounded by Aida’s inability to recall the most difficult times in her life makes this journey to find the truth a truly unique heart wrenching yet liberating story that I shall not soon forget. The inclusion of real footage from post- WWII and Shep’s athletic success despite his visual impairment was an extra added bonus. Please catch this limited release at Regal Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville. ~Movie Buffette
Izak Szewelewicz as Himself
Shep Shell as Himself
Aida Zasadsinska as Herself
Winner – Jury Prize for Best Documentary, 2017 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Winner – Audience Award, 2017 Miami Jewish Film Festival
True Stories Selection, 2017 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 New York Jewish Film Festival
Winner – Audience Award, 2016 Tel Aviv’s DocAviv International Film Festival
World Premiere, 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival