Here I Learned to Love: Film Review

Here I learned to Love Still - H 2013

Here I learned to Love Still - H 2013

This movingly personal documentary depicts the Holocaust through the eyes of two young children.

Avi Angel's documentary concerns two elderly brothers retracing their travails during the Holocaust.

A moving addition to the ever-growing canon of personalized Holocaust-themed documentaries, Here I Learned to Love follows two elderly brothers as they relive their harrowing experiences as toddlers during World War II. Currently playing an exclusive theatrical engagement at NYC’s Quad Cinema, it should enjoy a long ancillary life.

The film’s central figures are Itzik Weinberg and Avner Kerem, who were 3 and 2 years old respectively when they were forced to live in the Krakow ghetto. After their parents and grandparents were sent to death camps, they were taken in by an aunt in Budapest. Eventually they wound up in Bergen-Belsen, where a young prisoner, Naomi, took them under her wing. After the war they wound up living with her in Switzerland, eventually settling in Israel after her death.

Revisiting the various locales that figure prominently in their story, the now-elderly men come to grips with their anguished past even as they pay emotional tribute to the “three mothers” who helped them survive.

Although it has its poetical moments, Avi Angel’s concise documentary based on Itzik’s memoir more often plays like a home movie, as illustrated by an amusing opening scene in which the two men good-naturedly banter about their respective medications.

While it sometimes feels hard to accept everything recounted at face value -- the brothers, after all, were toddlers during the events in question -- Here I Learned to Love nonetheless feels highly authentic in its evocation of the horrors of the Holocaust and the emotional scars still borne by its now-aged survivors.  

Opened: Friday, March 1 (Ruth Diskin Films)
Director: Avi Angel
Producers: Ido Groner, Debby Bar Shalom, Iris Rosenberg,
Director of photography/editor: Yuval Cohen
Composer: Tami Barak
No rating, 60 minutes