Seattle Jewish Film Festival 2014: Aftermath ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on February 22, 2014)

This intense drama from writer-director Wladyslaw Pasikowski (which reminded me of the 1990 West German film, The Nasty Girl) concerns a Polish émigré (Ireneusz Czop) who makes a visit from the U.S. to his hometown for the first time in decades to attempt a reconciliation with his estranged brother (Maciej Stuhr). He quickly gleans that his brother (whose wife has recently left him) has become a pariah to neighboring farmers and many locals in the nearby village. After some reluctance, his brother shows him why: he’s been obsessively digging out head stones from local roads that were originally re-appropriated from a Jewish graveyard during WW2, converting his wheat field into a makeshift cemetery. Oddly, he’s also learning Hebrew (the brothers are non-Jews). Not unlike the protagonist in Field of Dreams, he can offer no rational explanation; “something” is compelling him to do it. It seems he’s also dredging up shameful memories among the village elders that they would prefer not to process. It is a powerfully acted treatise on secrets, lies…and collective guilt.

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