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Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust
Hiding and Seeking Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust
Actors: Akiva Daum, Menachem Daum, Rifka Daum, Tzvi Dovid Daum, Honorata Matuszezyk Mucha
Directors: Menachem Daum, Oren Rudavsky
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
UR     2004     1hr 25min

This award-winning documentary tells the dramatic and emotional story of a Jewish father who journeys with his two ultra-orthodox adult sons back to Poland to try to find the Christian farmers who hid their family from the...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Akiva Daum, Menachem Daum, Rifka Daum, Tzvi Dovid Daum, Honorata Matuszezyk Mucha
Directors: Menachem Daum, Oren Rudavsky
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Biography
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/14/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Polish, Yiddish

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Movie Reviews

During the most wicked times there were righteous people
Mark H. Schwartz | Tel Aviv, Israel | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary of family members from New York meeting up in Warsaw with their sons living in Israel hoping to find the now elderly couple who saved a grandfather was extremely powerful.

The father's hope that the couple was still alive was to teach his skeptical sons that there indeed were righteous gentiles to whom they owed their very existence, because the couple successfully hid their grandfather and his two brothers for 28 months.

I do not want to give away the rest. All I wish to say however, is that I have seen it twice, and wept profusely both times--tears of pure joy. This documentary is for everyone, and raises many moral and humanistic issues. This is a must for everyone's collection, no matter what your faith may be."
Inspiring documentary
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 02/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)


The powerful and moving documentary "Hiding and Seeking" gets to the heart of what religion and faith are really all about.

Menachem Daum, although himself an orthodox Jew, is concerned that his two even more conservative sons - yeshiva students living in Israel - are becoming isolationist in their attitudes towards the gentile world. To prove to them that there are good gentiles in the world, he takes them and his wife on a trip to Poland to have them meet the people who risked their lives by hiding the boys' maternal grandfather and two uncles from the Nazis during World War II. In fact, the boys and their mother owe their very existence to the extraordinary compassion and heroism of this "goyim" family. Although Daum was raised to see virtually all non-Jews as enemies, his life experience has taught him that people are people and that good and evil do not break down along sectarian lines. It is this humanistic philosophy that Daum hopes to impart to his sons.

The "hiding" of the title - beyond the obvious reference to the secretion of Jews during the holocaust - denotes what the practitioners of all religions do when they see themselves as somehow separate from and superior to those around them, and, as a result, build up barriers between their own kind and the outside world. This attitude creates divisions that, paradoxically, end up destroying the very people they are designed to protect. The "seeking" comes in Daum's epic quest to prove to his children that all people have the potential for goodness if only they choose to act upon it. Daum's egalitarian spirit and implicit faith in human goodness - despite having himself grown up in the shadow of the holocaust - provide the inspirational beacon than shines forth from the film.

Near the end of the movie, the Daums finally get to meet two of the people who risked their lives to save the family`s relatives. The encounter is profoundly moving and compelling, and even Daum's sons seem transformed by the experience. But are they? "Hiding and Seeking" may be a "feel good" experience, but it isn't a fairy tale, and directors Baum and Oren Rudavsky are not afraid to end on an ambiguous note. Life, we are led to believe, asks a heck of a lot more complicated questions than an 84-minute movie - even a very good 84-minute movie - can answer. Not bad for a film in what is usually a know-it-all genre.

Filled with laughter and tears as well as a profound insight into the human condition, "Hiding and Seeking" is a rewarding and enlightening film."
Deeply Moving Part of an Ongoing Dialogue
Danusha Goska | Bloomington, IN | 06/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I dreaded watching yet another film that would, predictably, open with a pan of rolling Polish countryside, show an elderly peasant, clueless about why he is being filmed, shot in such a way as to make him appear threatening or simply primitive, and hear a indignant voiceover about Poland's "Dark, shameful secrets." Then I would squirm as genuine facts were presented in twisted contexts in order to distort history.

"Hiding and Seeking" is not that anti-Polonist film; it is not Marian Marzynski's "Shtetl," it is not Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah."

The film opens with Menachem Daum, a Jewish American father, playing, for his devout Jewish sons now living in Israel, a recording of a Jewish sermon in which the speaker encourages his hearers to cultivate hostility toward non-Jews.

His sons do not take an unambiguous stance against hatred. Rather, one, especially, struggles to justify prejudice.

Moments like this are always darkly amusing for me as a woman viewer. Every second of every day, men violate, torture, murder, enslave, and commit even more unspeakable crimes against women, and have done so for thousands of years. I wonder how the younger Mr. Daum would feel if I tried to justify hatred of men to his wife or daughter?

I adduce this absurd example merely to highlight: hatred is NEVER moral. Hatred is NEVER justified. Hatred is always a sin and an intellectual failure.

Menachem Daum reports that he grew up with the idea of Poles as the ultimate other, utterly beyond redemption.

The older Mr. Daum takes his sons to Poland. There he insists on leaving prayers at the site of a lost synagogue. One of his sons, especially, speaks openly of how foolish he finds such behavior. He sees no important Jewish heritage in Poland, the land of the evil other.

Mr. Daum points out to his sons that, were it not for Polish Catholics, they would never have come to be. Their grandfather was saved by Polish Catholics during WW II, who hid three Jewish brothers in their barn.

The family visits the Polish saviors, some of whom are still alive. Apparently no warning was given to the Polish family. A van just drives up and a bunch of strangers with a camera pour out. These Polish farmers are gracious and hospitable. They have a pointed question, though. Why, after they risked their lives, and perhaps the life of the village (Nazis often committed retaliatory massacres against entire villages), did the Jews they saved never contact them? "Even just a post card?"

It's an awkward moment. How do you thank people who saved your life under such circumstances? You can't. So, you delay writing the letter, and then you feel ashamed, and then you never write it. Or, perhaps they never wrote because they were afraid of being asked for monetary compensation. Or, as one of the sons points out, perhaps the saved Jews delayed because their experience of being hidden was so traumatic for them that they were no longer "normal." Or, perhaps they delayed because their saviors were, after all, Poles. The ultimate other.

Time passes, and there are new, and deeply moving, developments, which you will see when you watch the film.

The scenes in Poland communicate much: the looks of contempt, hostility, and fear on some of the faces of the Daums, and, then, as the story progresses, looks of thoughtful reflection, and then affection and ease.

Menachim Daum emerges as a towering figure. He is saintlike in his insistence on the full humanity of all persons, regardless of their religion.

In short, I really loved this movie.

And ... yet.

And yet.

Though the film superficially rejects the idea of Poles as others, the film itself treats Poles as others.

The Polish, non-Jewish experience during WW II is not mentioned. The millions of non-Jewish Poles killed in random mass executions, deported, tortured, gassed, experimented on, enslaved.

The Polish churches, museums, and other cultural artifacts deliberately and methodically destroyed by the Nazis.

The fact that Poland was just out from under a lengthy and destructive period of colonization when it was attacked by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, simultaneously. That after the war, when many Jews were -- horrifically -- murdered by Polish non-Jews, as this film points out, there was a civil war, in which Jews also did kill non-Jewish Poles, and Poles killed Poles, etc.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

*Nothing* excuses any act of anti-Semitism any Pole has committed against any Jew. All decent Poles are ashamed of, and work to eliminate, such acts, and they do so as part of a proud tradition stretching back centuries. But we can't understand atrocities until we see them in context, and "Hiding and Seeking" doesn't even hint at that context.

One guesses that the filmmakers, who don't speak Polish, are not even aware of the context.

"Hiding and Seeking" shows Jews as the sole initiators of Polish-Jewish dialogue and reconciliation. This is simply inaccurate. Poles like Wladyslaw Bartoszewski faced prison terms under the Communists for working on better Polish-Jewish relations.

Too, Poles are others in this film. The camera never rests on them exclusively.

Just one example. One of the rescuers, an elderly woman, now lives her entire life bent double. Why? The movie never asks this terribly simple question, that, if you were curious, at all, about this woman's full humanity, you'd want answered.

As the film says, there are some "good goyim." But that schema, that insistence on seeing non-Jews as either "good goyim" or "bad goyim," that is, as seeing non-Jews exclusively as entities in relation to Jews, and missing something so obvious as a disease that turned a woman's body into a walking pretzel, misses the full humanity of anyone who is not Jewish."
Documentaries don't usually make you cry!
Meirav | California | 05/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Documentaries usually are designed to make you think. This one makes you think AND feel. It starts with the protagonist, Menachem Daum lamenting that religion in general is in danger of being taken over by hate-filled extremists. We find that Daum's two sons are Yeshiva students who have no particular desire to associate with those who aren't Jewish.`Perhaps, through their grandfather, perhaps, through their studies, they've developed the mindset that non-Jews are basically dangerous and that it's best to erect a barrier between them. This is a journey as father reunites his children with the Polish couple who risked their lives to save the children's grandfather and uncles.

The story drags in part, but press on. The end more than accommodates the lack of professional editing, and it has a few life lessons."