Germans & Jews
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Part of Thalia Docs / Film



2016. Janina Quint. USA. Color.
Language - English & German w/English Subtitles

In 2009, Tal Recanati, an American Jew, visited Germany and took a tour entitled "Jewish Berlin." She was astonished to find that the Germans had dug so deeply and thoughtfully into their past, and that in the 70 years since the Holocaust, there was a growing vibrant Jewish community. She discussed her impressions with Janina Quint, her non-Jewish German friend of thirty years. Tal thought there was a story to tell, but Janina, having grown up in Germany, was skeptical. Who would be interested?

However, a growing Jewish community was something that neither Tal nor Janina could have imagined. This was the starting point for their collaboration on Germans and Jews. The film opens with second-generation Jews and non-Jewish Germans together at a dinner table in present-day Germany. They have gathered to discuss their highly sensitive relationship. The narrative then explores the post-war years, specifically the transformation that took place in German society. From victims to perpetrators to defenders of human rights and democracy, Germans have made a valiant effort to face the past and to learn from it. What other country builds memorials commemorating its own atrocities? Outside of Germany, this story is less known. We hear from Jews living in Germany, some who arrived after the war; others who were born and raised in post-war Germany; and still others who immigrated from Russia and Israel. Today, it is estimated that there are close to 250,000 Jews living in Germany. They have become the seismograph of the society.

German guilt, Holocaust fatigue and anti-Semitism are some of the topics covered in the film. Both Jews and non-Jewish Germans address these issues. A very nuanced and complex story of reconciliation emerges. What began as a private conversation between friends grew into a cultural exchange among many. Tal and Janina ultimately discovered that Germans and Jews are inextricably linked as they continue to seek common ground in which to view their relationship. Tal and Janina's exploration gives a glimpse into this untold story. It is at once uncomfortable and provocative, unexpected and
enlightening

"Incisive... Part psychology seminar and sociology course, Germans & Jews finds its sharpest insights as it examines the stress of communication, when both sides are so hyper-aware of the past that it hinders what's said in the present. Yet just the fact that Germans - Jewish and non-Jewish - are talking about the issues, Ms. Quint suggests, is a real cause for hope, despite history."

— Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

"In Janina Quint's subtle, compact but deeply resonant documentary Germans & Jews, we can see how far the modern nation of Germany has come in terms of historical reckoning and historical reconciliation, 70 years after the end of World War II."

— Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

"Fascinating... With subtle, skillful editing, director Janina Quint wisely allows paradoxes to arise on their own while giving the viewer enough historical context to make sense of them."

— Diana Clarke, Village Voice

"A thoughtful and illuminating examination of a provocative subject."

— Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter