'Trezoros': Film Review

Courtesy of Trezoros.com
A document with historical merit but little appeal for moviegoers.

Lawrence Russo and Larry Confino listen to how a beautiful Greek village suffered during World War II.

The elderly natives of an idyllic Greek village recount their experience of the Holocaust in Trezoros, Lawrence Russo and Larry Confino's document of little Kastoria, near the country's northern border. Though stocked with good archival materials and attentive to its subjects' personal histories, the picture's narrow focus and long-windedness make it best suited for history scholars; outside of certain museum and educational settings, its theatrical value is extremely limited.

Situated on a lake in the mountains, Kastoria has a physical beauty matched by descriptions we hear of the pre-war harmony between its Jewish and Christian populations. Here, we're told, neighbors shared their different religious holidays freely and everyone enjoyed his role in the community.

The filmmakers listen like compilers of an oral history, not like men making a movie for consumption by non-academics. The first 20 minutes are given to banal remembrances like "summertime, we used to go swimming, down at the lake." One starts to worry the interviewees will name every merchant in town before they begin to describe how this community was torn apart.

Then we hear of Italy's invasion of Greece and the battle of Kastoria. Greece surrenders, and despite the mistreatment of partisans, we hear that "the Italians ... were nice people" while they were in charge.

Around the half-hour point, the movie gets to Italy's surrender and the transfer of Kastoria to German rule. Here, the stories become all too familiar. Trezoros makes much of its local color, recounting how a black snow fell in March of 1944 and was viewed by locals as an omen. (It was probably ash from Mount Vesuvius, which erupted on March 18.) But this is really just an opportunity to add more first-person accounts of the war's horrors, hearing how loved ones were torn from each other and forced to survive or die on their own. Since we're speaking to the survivors, there are obviously some happy narratives to share. But both Jews and Gentiles acknowledge that Kastoria was never the same place again. What town was?

Distributor: CINEMAflix
Production company: Vision Entertainment
Directors: Lawrence Russo, Larry Confino
Producer: Larry Confino
Executive producers: Martin Elias, Lawrence Russo
Editor: David Bruce
Composers: Gil Talmi, Robert A. Lieberman

In Greek and English

Not rated, 90 minutes

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