27 November 2011
Directed by Britta Wauer.
Classification: M, 90 mins.
Official Site: http://www.jewishfilmfestival.com.au
Language: German, Englis,h Russian, Hebrew, English subtitles (subtitled).
Since 1989, families from all over the world have made pilgrimages to find their ancestors among Berlin’s Weissensee Cemetery’s 115,000 Jewish graves. Melbourne families, including one Festival Patron and Director, have been among those who have made the journey. Despite being close to the heart of WWII Nazi Headquarters, the cemetery was never desecrated. Benign Soviet neglect behind the Iron Curtain resulted in decades of decay, but following reunification, some exceptional tombs are being restored and the park is again open to all. In Heaven elegantly depicts the symbol of Jewish endurance in the heart of the Reich being cared for by present day Jewish and German communities. Signalling the new chapter in the life of Jewish Gemeinde, Russian families gather at the graves of loved ones, in contrast to past glories captured in stills and restorations.
The film was launched in Berlin this year to deeply emotional and extraordinarily positive audience reaction. Winner of the Audience Prize at 2011 Berlinale, Britta Wauer’s tenderness and subtlety bring complete respect to this deeply sensitive material. She was supported in the work of capturing this historic Jewish landmark by the Berlin Jewish Community, whose members appear in interviews. This film honours not only those who rest at Weissensee, but the millions who never knew a peaceful resting place.