Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

The Flat – 2011 Israeli Documentary

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Have you ever wondered if there are secrets in your family’s past you don’t know about? Even if you have never wondered, what would your reaction be if you found out your family was not who you thought them to be?

The Flat (2011 Documentary by Arnon Goldfinger) examines this premise as the Director, Arnon Goldfinger, and his family begin to clean out the flat in Tel Aviv that belonged to his grandparents Kurt and Gerda Tuchler, both immigrants from Nazi Germany. At first the family sorts through typical bric-a-brac of a home occupied for decades; clothing, books, grandmother’s large collection of gloves and other accessories. They really did not know what they were looking for, just sifting through the remains of a European past. But soon they begin to find letters, magazine clippings and photographs that lead them to uncover a shocking story. Their Jewish grandparents were very close friends with Leopold von Mildenstein, a head SS officer in the Nazi regime and the predecessor of Adolph Eichmann, and his wife. Goldfinger’s grandparents, in fact, took the couple to Palestine in the early 1930s as the officer investigated it as a suitable place to send German Jews.

The documentary follows along as Goldfinger finds and visits different family members, including the daughter of the von Mildensteins, and pieces together this confusing family history that nobody ever talked about and was a mystery to even his own mother, the Tuchler’s daughter. Some of the interviews with her were painfully awkward as a story she had no idea about, continued to unfold.

The film took five years to develop and during production, the crew expanded until the film became a German-Israeli coproduction with a prominent film company coming on board as co-producers. Clearly Goldfinger had no idea what he was taking on when he shared the fact that he was clearing the flat with the first cinematographer, Talya Galon, who lives not far from there. As new details were uncovered, Goldfinger became aware he was documenting something significant, and there are times where the camera just sits, watching him while he processes the deep emotional significance of what he’s just uncovered. I think that watching the people who appear in the film, as they deal with the truth and process their own raw emotions, was one of the best aspects of the film and allowed the audience to connect so well with the story. I found myself thinking, “how would I process that shock, particularly with a camera in front of me?” It was extremely powerful.

The original film was released in July of 2011 to sold out film festival audiences. In September 2011 it was theatrically released and is now considered to the third most viewed Israeli film of 2011. Sweeping over 13 international film awards, The Flat is now considered one of the most important documentaries made in Israel in the last decade.

Here’s a link to the IMDb where you can watch the movie trailer.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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