The flat on the third floor of a Bauhaus building in Tel Aviv was where my grandparents lived since they immigrated to Palestine in the 1930's. Were it not for the view from the windows, one might have thought that the flat was in Berlin. When my grandmother passed away at the age of 98 we were called to the flat to clear out what was left. Objects, pictures, letters and documents awaited us, revealing traces of a troubled and unknown past.
The film which begins with the emptying out of a flat develops into a riveting adventure, involving unexpected national interests, a friendship that crosses enemy lines, and deeply repressed family emotions. And even reveals some secrets that should have probably remained untold…
Written and Directed by: Arnon GoldfingerProduced by: Arnon Goldfinger & Thomas Kufus, zero one filmSponsored by: The New Israeli Fund for Cinema & TV, FilmForderAnstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Deutscher FilmForderFond With ARTE, ZDF, SWR, Noga Communications/ Channel 8 IsraelLanguage: Hebrew, German and English with English subtitles
The flat on the third floor of a Bauhaus building in Tel Aviv was where my grandparents lived since they immigrated to Palestine in the 1930's. Were it not for the view from the windows, one might have thought that the flat was in Berlin. When my grandmother passed away at the age of 98 we were called to the flat to clear out what was left. Objects, pictures, letters and documents awaited us, revealing traces of a troubled and unknown past. The film which begins with the emptying out of a flat develops into a riveting adventure, involving unexpected national interests, a friendship that crosses enemy lines, and deeply repressed...
"As with the best documentaries, Goldfinger's film poses more questions than it answers".
For the entire review of THE FLAT by Mark Clamen/Critics at Large.ca,
Moving and instructive, Arnon Goldfinger's film, The Flat, not only provides keen insights into the generational divides that exist in every family, but it also offers a unique glimpse into a nearly overlooked aspect of the Holocaust. By this I refer to Leopold von Mildenstein efforts, before the start of World War II, to 'encourage' Jews to migrate to the British Mandate of Palestine as a means of solving Germany's Jewish problem. Mildenstein, a SS officer, was a key figure in the Nazi's Judenreferat (Jewish Department), and he was responsible for recruiting Adolf Eichmann into the department to work on 'Jewish' issues.
For the entire review by Anna Dogole / thejewisheye.com, check: http://www.thejewisheye.com/theflat.html
THE FLAT IN THE BEST OF THE BEST LISTS IN 2012
TIME MAGAZINE: One of the 10 Best Movies we missed this year
Film-Forward: one of the 10 Best films of 2012
San Fransisco Bay Gurdian: Top film list of 2012 (Honorable mention)
BeatRoute Magazine: 2nd Best film of 2012
San Francisco Beyondchron 0ne of the 12 best films of 2012
New Jersey News Room: One of 10 best films 2012
Mountain View Voice Susan Tavernetti Best 10 Film list for 2012
TIP BERLIN – Volker Gunske: One of 10 best films in German Cinemas 2012
YINYANG Magazine: One of 10 Movies not to be missed
Metacritics Best Films list of 2012
Hollywoodchicago.com: one of 10 Best Documentaries of 2012.
Sound on Sight One of the Best Documentaries 2012
FSR: One of the 12 best Documentaries 2012
Digital Dream Door: Top 10 Documentaries 2012
Reel life: One of Best 20 Documentaries 2012
Film School Picks for the Best Films of 2012
THE FLAT is among Best Documentaries of 2012 by Sound on Sight
"A film that begins as a family quest but evolves into a gripping study of know-don’t-tell reticence and the umbilical tie of a lost homeland."
JEANNETTE CATSOULIS NEW YORK TIMES NYT Critics' Pick
"What makes The Flat mesmerizing is its wealth of historical detail. What makes it universal is what it says about families everywhere - that children, being children, don't want to know what their parents are up to, and that grown-ups, being human, don't want to credit troubling facts that conflict with what they need to believe.
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Leba Hertz Sun Francisco chronicle Critic's Picks
Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times
Elizabeth Weitzman NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"A quietly brilliant study in cognitive dissonance, The Flat is a documentary look at Holocaust denial, but not the kind you might think."
Michael O'sullivan, Washington Post, Washington Post Critics' Pick
TOM CARSON, GQ
Chuck Wilson, Village Voice
Dan Schindel Screen Picks
JOHN ANDERSON. Newsdays
Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward
"The Flat," a spellbinding documentary about family secrets, begins when the maker of this film, Arnon Goldfinger, joins his mother in cleaning out the Tel Aviv flat of his grandmother, her mother, who had just died at 98. They find the possessions of a lifetime, and among them, the long-ago newspaper article. His grandparents were friendly with a high Nazi official? More than that: Arnon's mother, Hannah, tells him that the couples resumed their friendship.
For the entire review by Roger Ebert/ Chicago Sun-times, check: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20121031%2FREVIEWS%2F121039993
Israel's top-grossing documentary of last year as well as the winner of that country's best documentary award, "The Flat" succeeds by being wide-ranging as well as particular. It tells an out-of-the-ordinary personal story and examines broad historical issues of societal memory and selective amnesia, of what is hidden between generations and what is revealed.
For the entire review by Kenneth Turan/LA Times, check: www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies
FilmInk speaks to Israeli documentarian, Arnon Goldfinger, the man behind one of the most intriguing highlights at this year’s Antenna International Documentary Festival.
For the entire interview, check: http://www.filmink.com.au/features/stranger-than-fiction_2/
The Gilde-Filmpreis 2012- The German Art cinemas Guild Award for Best documentary in German cinemas for 2012:
After Grandma Gerda dies at age 98, the family begins the long process of cleaning out the apartment that's like a slice of pre-war Berlin life. There are lots of gloves. Lots of bags. Lots of shoes. And lots of books. It's hoarding with panache. Yet, it's an article about a Nazi in Palestine that most intrigues the family and especially her grandson, Arnon Goldfinger, who is also the director of the film. Turns out his grandmother and grandfather were very close friends with a high official in the S.S. and his wife before and, more surprisingly, after World War II. After all, he was associated with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and was the predecessor to Adolf Eichmann. Goldfinger searches for clues about how this relationship happened, including interviews with his mother, family friends, experts and the charming daughter of Leopold von Mildenstein, the Nazi in question. There are startling revelations, family bonding, guilt, possible betrayals and lots of people in denial about the truth. Although a documentary, it moves like an action mystery. Perhaps someday, someone will get the inspiration to dramatize this remarkable story.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Jewish-Film-Festival-The-Flat-3703368.php#ixzz275pzL5cl
The docs are similar, especially when viewed in the short span of a festival, but Goldfinger's The Flat is the standout. It begins as the filmmaker's family descends upon the Tel Aviv apartment of his recently-deceased grandmother, "a bit of a hoarder" who lived to 95 and seemingly never got rid of anything. This includes, as Goldfinger discovers, copies of the Joseph Goebbels-founded newspaper Der Angriff, containing articles about "the Nazi who visited Palestine." The Nazi was Leopold von Mildenstein, an SS officer with an interest in Zionism. Turns out he made the journey in 1933 with his wife and a Jewish couple named Kurt and Gerda Tuchler — Goldfinger's grandparents.
Understandably intrigued and more than a little baffled, Goldfinger investigates, finding letters and diary entries that reveal the unlikely traveling companions were close friends, even after World War II. His mother, the Tuchler's daughter, prefers to "keep the past out," but curiosity (and the pursuit of a good documentary) presses Goldfinger forward; he visits von Mildenstein's elderly daughter in Germany, digs through German archives, and unearths even more surprises about his family tree. Broader themes about guilt and denial emerge — post-traumatic coping mechanisms that echo through generations.
Read more: http://www.sfbg.com/2012/07/17/personal-detectives
It is impossible to describe the impact of this documentary without spoiling it for potential viewers. Arnon Goldfinger decided to produce the film while cleaning out the closets of his recently deceased 98-year-old grandmother and discovering a secret about his German grandparents. Unable to reconcile everything he has ever known with what he had just learned, he searches for the truth that spawned generations of denial.J.G.M.
"One of the best movies of the year. It plays like a great mystery - and it is. This is what a documentary should be – smart, moving, profound and unpredictable – in other words, what we look for in a great film. The Flat is all of that and more."
Michael Moore, Filmmaker and Executive Director of Traverse City Film Festival
Special Jury Prize – Foreign Film – Traverse City International Film Festival, USA, 2012
“The Flat” | Arnon Goldfinger
The jury has voted to give a special jury prize to a film that revisits the holocaust in a simple, intimate family story. Structured as a mystery with unexpected twists and turns, this sophisticated documentary makes us ponder the complexity of human relationships and the desire for closure, and does so with honesty and an ambivalence that avoids easy answers.
A dedicated archaeologist of the all too recent past, Goldfinger’s research into the accoutrements of his grandmother’s life evolves into a suspenseful search that leads him to unexpected places and encounters. An emotional, psychological and intellectual thriller, there is no way that I would spoil the pleasure of viewing The Flat for the first time by revealing these discoveries. Yet even after seeing the film twice, the mysteries at the core of this story continue to trouble the mind, defying explanation.
For the entire review by Ayelet Dekel/MidnightEast.com, check: http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=14652
"Arnon Goldfinger has broken a taboo: In a documentary, he tells the unutterable- the story of a friendship between a Jewish family and a Nazi family- and through this leads Israel to speak in a completely new manner."
"A radical, honest film, that is - a sheer marvel - told both directly and subtly."
"Somebody pulls up the blinds, allows light to enter the flat and while doing this, swirls up the dust that now turns visible. Through the objectworld, this film tries again, to advance to the personal consternation, that is concealed behind the formalities."
"The filmmaker does not actuate his research in order to come to trumps with dogmatism, but with polite persistence."
"As the documentary about 'the flat' progresses it gets more gripping and fascinating, like a detective-movie in which more and more pieces of the puzzle connect to form a nearly coherent overall picture."
"Psychologically THE FLAT is just as gripping and dense as the film is historically informative. One has to be thankful to Arnon Goldfinger for his courage to subjectivity that never remains reclusive. Their reward is a film of rare humane profoundness."
"So thrilling, astounding, moving and enriching, it is simply impossible not to be gripped by THE FLAT." Sächsische Zeitung
"The investigative film puts one under its spell."
"The dead are not the topic of this persistently questioning family report, but the bereaved, including the director. Life takes little notice of national taboos."
"Goldfinger turns from the initial outside documentarist into the protagonist who, with his sorrow and his consternation, puts the viewer into a deeply moved and reflective mood."
"History turns into a detective story."
"THE FLAT is kept in a calm tone and warm images, feeling and factual at the same time. It is never about settling old scores or the assignment of guilt. This film wants to understand the inconceivable and lets the viewer take part in this attempt. This narrating technique turns THE FLAT into an intensive movie-experience as well as an important document of Jewish and German history."
"A gripping search of traces. The director builds up a tension that partly reminds of a detective story. A striking contemporary document about silence.“
“The great accomplishment of this film is that it makes clear to us, this great, extensive rummaging is not over but even more it has, on a certain level, only begun and has to continue.“
“A simply unbelievable Story as probably only life can write it!”
“Arnon Goldfinger impressively demonstrates how one can skillfully connect a very personal family history with the great development directions of the 20th century, in a way that it nearly turns into a detective story.“
Filmecho / Filmwoche
“This way THE FLAT is on one side a very personal film about a family history in the context of the Holocaust, but on the other side also a moving document about the silence of the post-war period. On the side of the offenders but also on that of the victims.”
“THE FLAT is mainly this terrific because it points beyond the story of the Tuchlers and does not remain stuck in the mere spectacular. Ultimately Arnon Goldfinger observes himself while he searches for a key to the comprehension of a past becoming increasingly incomprehensible.”
“Goldfinger knows how to narrate packed with suspense and without consternation - this clearly distinguishes the movie from the dramas of contemporary witnesses in the style of Guido Knopp for the sake of reconciliatory discharge of the past.”
“In Israel this seeking of traces in Tel Aviv and Germany was celebrated as a fascinating document of history. One should not miss this intimate documentary here either.”
"It could be considered an outstanding thriller of souls. In fact it's an astonishing trip into a very special history of a desperate attempt of attachment to a culture and to a country, despite the Holocaust."
For the entire review by Giovanni Ottone © FIPRESCI 2012 the international federation of film critics, check:
The runner-up for Best Documentary was the marvelous The Flat. Israeli director, Arnon Goldfinger, intended to make a film about his departed grandmother’s possessions as he cleaned out her apartment in Tel Aviv. His movie took an unexpected turn when he discovered letters and photos that showed that his grandparents, who had lived in Germany until the early thirties, were great friends with a prominent Nazi before and after WW2. “The truths that we reveal in the film are very complicated and uneasy to process,” Goldfinger told FilmInk. “But when truth is revealed, there is a feeling of relief because there is no longer the burden of hiding a secret, or of denial, or being afraid to learn something.”
Danny Peary, www.Filmlink.com.au
". Beautifully ambiguous and intelligently orchestrated, The Flat finds humanity in places we often see as unredeemable."
For the entire review by Daniel Walber from Movies.com, check: http://www.movies.com/movie-news/docs-at-tribeca-personal-films-with-eye-on-surprises-history/7562
THE FLAT has received the rating / Seal of approval by the German Film rating center : Highly recommended: http://www.fbw-filmbewertung.com/film/die_wohnung_1
Israeli film one of Five Tribeca festival films to watch for: http://sizedoesntmatter.com/video/israeli-film-one-of-five-tribeca-festival-films-to-watch-out-for
An astonishing trip into buried history and the human capacity for self-delusion, The Flat follows filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger as he stumbles across a remarkable bit of history and slowly becomes a part of its thorny psychological terrain. Prospects at the arthouse are strong, assuming marketers can convey what an unusual take on the Holocaust is being offered here.
For the entire review by John DeFore/Hollywood Reporter, check: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/flat-tribeca-review-documentary-317893
Most of the film is about Goldfinger putting together the pieces of the story by conducting interviews, searching archives, and, significantly, tracking down Von Mildenstein's hospitable daughter, Edda, who insists her father was a journalist and not a big-wig in the Nazi regime during the thirties and forties. His movie doesn't just show his step-by-step process when trying to solve both a family and historical mystery but also deals with his internal battles when deciding what to do with the information he has uncovered in regard to his mother and Edda--and even his grandparents. The Flat has been playing in Israel for seven months and will be released in Germany in June. It deservedly won Tribeca's award for best editing in a documentary, which could be a harbinger of great things in America. I was fortunate to speak to the modest, personable and thoughtful Arnon Goldfinger early this week at the festival.
For the entire interview with Filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger, check: http://brinkzine.com/content/10990/.html
Like many great Holocaust films, Arnon Goldfinger's "The Flat" starts with a simple object: a Nazi newspaper, found in the Tel Aviv apartment of the director's grandmother after her death at 98. The discovery promises plenty of surprises, but while the pic is peppered with revelations, some of them shocking, about Goldfinger's grandparents and their long-standing relationship with a high-ranking SS propaganda minister and his wife, it's the helmer's relationship with his denial-cloaked mother, Hannah, that increasingly takes centerstage. This fascinating docu should easily attract crossover auds, and merits arthouse exposure.
For the entire review by Ronnie Scheib, check:
“The Flat” takes one of the most oblique routes possible to examine the aftermath of the Shoah and its meaning for formerly German Jews. Goldfinger is a shrewd interviewer who allows his sources to talk themselves into inadvertent truth-telling, and the humor and wit that shone through “The Komediant” are in generous supply here as well. His own low-key presence on camera helps ground the film in a deceptively casual register that allows the secrets that emerge to make their own impact without unnecessary hype from the filmmaker. It’s a clever film that manages to juggle wildly disparate tones and moods to great effect.
For the entire review by George Robinson/The Jewish Week, check: http://www.thejewishweek.com/arts/film/not_james_bonds_goldfinger
For the entire interview with filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger on IndiWire, check: http://www.indiewire.com/article/meet-the-2012-tribeca-filmmakers-18-the-flat-director-arnon-goldfinger#
For the entire review check: http://twi-ny.com/blog/2012/04/16/tribeca-film-festival-the-flat/
the Tribeca International Film Festival – Official Competition.
The House of Commons
Yehuda Stav, Yediyot Ahcronot, September 9th, 2011
THE FLAT is one of the most fascinating and significant documentary films to
be made in Israel in the last decade. Arnon Goldfinger’s unsettling film, THE FLAT, for which he won the
director’s prize at the last Jerusalem Film Festival, is one of the most fascinating and significant documentary films to be made in Israel in the last decade. This is not only because of its unbelievable subject matter,
but because of the artistry of the filmmaking and above all because of the complexity of issues that are addressed and the deep emotional impact they have on the viewer.
"Arnon Goldfinger's spellbinding work "The Flat" is one of the most intriguing and important documentary films made in Israel in the last decade. Because of its unbelievable subject, its meticulous weaving, its perfect form, and especially because of the complexity of the issues and the deep emotions it arouses in the spectator."
Yehuda Stav Yediot Aharonot
"An unbelievable saga which teaches us not only about the history of afamily, but about the complexity of the relations between Israel and Germany. "The Flat" is not only one of the most amazing documentaries ever
produced here, but it is one of the most important works ever done about the ongoing relations between two countries and two nations."
Avner Shavit Walla
"A deceptively modest personal chronicle develops into a remarkably astute, multi-layered documentary, tackling heavyweight themes without ever abandoning its initial simple, unobtrusive and intimate tone. A surefire festival hit with solid chances of crossing over into theatrical distribution."
Dan Fainaru Screen Magazine
"Goldfinger scorches the screen in a sweeping journey revealing a complex plot presented in an exciting and admirable way. Just like a juicy onion the layers of which are being peeled layer after layer, in a calculated and
skillful way. An impressive film constructed in an astute and captivating way."
Meir Schnitzer Ma'ariv
"Loaded scenes seething with irony which only outstanding playwrights or reality (with the aid of intelligent documentarists) can write with such precision. An electrifying drama of mutual denial. It's a thrilling
documentary, poignant and moving, offering a surprising and honest insight you have never seen before."
Yael Shuv Time out Tel Aviv
"It's not only an exciting film, but a fascinating documentary offering a fresh and reflective look at the way the second and third generation to holocaust survivors deal with the memory of history, the difficulties and
complexities characteristic of the relations between these generations and the complex relations between Israelis and Germans after the 2nd world war.
It also deals with the question of identity, sense of belonging, repression and the shaping of memory, and mainly succeeds in reminding us of the these complex issues."
Nirit Anderman Ha'aretz
The Flat" establishes the third generation of holocaust survivors as the first that's able to shatter the denial and the repression and replace it with healing and historical truth. An excellent documentary film, wise, well written, beautifully edited and expertly filmed.
Zohar Wagner CITY MOUSE Tel Aviv
"A small flat turns into a story about a national and private gripping history. An important and fascinating film."
Shmulik Duvdevani Ynet
Zach Oryan Post Israel
"One of the most amazing, exciting and thought provoking stories which can be seen this year in movie theaters… but Goldfinger's film is more than a presentation of a fascinating story. It extracts the maximum out of the subject he is dealing with… the director succeeded in finding an unbelievable story inside the particulars which seemingly have no place anymore in our world."
Srita the Israeli cinema site