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Film

'A Film Unfinished' Premieres on Independent Lens, 3 May.

Like so many faces that look back in so many documentaries, those in A Film Unfinished indicate the subjects’ awareness of their status as such. And as they gaze back at the camera, they are also silent, like all of “Das Ghetto,” an unfinished Nazi propaganda film discovered in an East German vault during the 1950s. Yael Hersonski has reassembled much of that footage for her film, which premieres 3 May on PBS. Some of it is observational and some staged by the German film crew, and Hersonski cuts it alongside readings from diaries and transcripts, as well as shots of ghetto survivors watching that footage. Comprised of more faces, shadowed in a theater, these shots serve as vivid reflections of your own experience, horrified at what they see. And what they see exemplifies one of the most chilling aspects of the Third Reich, “an empire infatuated with the camera,” narrates Rona Kenan, “that knew so well to document its own evil, passionately, systematically, like no other nation before it.”

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