The Dietrich Theater’s Summer Film Fest concluded on Thursday, and the next day filmgoers wasted no time discussing the 22 films featured this year.
Films ran the gauntlet of various subject matter - including social, political, emotional and other issues.
World War II and its aftermath continued to be a popular subject at the festival with three films - ‘A Bag of Marbles,’ ‘After Auschwitz,’ and ‘Bye Bye Germany’ dedicated to the genre.
Esther Harmatz said that ‘A Bag of Marbles’ was the film which affected her the most.
The movie tells the story of the Nazi occupation through the eyes of two young Jewish boys. The boys flee the authorities, trying to keep one step ahead of them. With the specter of arrest constantly hovering over them, the two make their way through France in the hopes of reuniting with their family.
Harmatz said that she had an uncle who was in a concentration camp. Fortunately, she explained, his wife had immigrated to the U.S. and was able to eventually secure his release and transportation to this country.
“I’m not used to seeing a movie about World War II from a child’s perspective,” she said.
Ronnie Harvey, who acted as moderator for the group, and helped select the movies in this summer’s festival, said he was surprised when he found out at the end of the film that it was based on fact, not fiction.
“Usually you learn that at the start of the movie,” Harvey explained.
Another reason why he thought it was fiction was there seemed to be too many convenient situations throughout the film, allowing the boys to remain free.
However, Elly Miller, who also had relatives who were victims of the Nazi regime, said that all films about the Holocaust had to be factually based.
“To say its fiction almost seems sacrilegious,” she said.
This also led to the group expressing concern that many younger people are unfamiliar with the Holocaust, with a good number having absolutely no idea about what occurred.
With Holocaust deniers and others attempting to undermine the truth, it becomes even more important that the story of those who survived the concentration camps continues to be told from generation to generation, Miller explained.
On a different note, Harvey said RBG - the biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - drew the most number of people during the festival. What surprised him the most about the film was it dealt not only with her serving on the Supreme Court, but her life before her appointment.
A great deal of the film focused on the challenges Ginsburg had to face working in what had previously been considered a ‘man’s’ profession.
Harmatz recalled a similar experience in her life, when she told an official at a university that she was apply to go to dental school.
“He told me, ‘Oh honey, you have a good job right now. Why do you want to take a job away from a man who has family to support,” she explained.
Eventually, Harmatz said, she had her application processed, and she attended dental school.
Also discussed was ‘Hereditary,’ a horror film about a family that unravels terrifying secrets about its ancestry. Although many of the group said they were not particularly fond of horror films, most found something interesting about ‘Hereditary.’
Harvey noted that he booked ‘Hereditary’ with the idea of attracting a younger audience. He said he’s found that a problem with the film festival is many perceive the movies as something for ‘the elite’ in the area.
This is not true, he explained. The films are carefully chosen as a cross section to appeal to all kinds of tastes.