STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME

4 Stars
Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 94 minutes
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2007 SXSW SPOTLIGHT PREMIERES DOCUMENTARY FEATURE! The Holocaust has had a giant impact on how we are as a human race. Many films and books have been created and it is very hard with such subject matter to not be bleak. “Steal a Pencil for Me” tries to take The Holocaust and tell the story of love that was found in a concentration camp. And to be honest, it does a good job of showing that some good things can happen even in the worst of times. This is one of the better-looking documentaries I have seen in a long time. Yet I doubt it is one of those documentaries that will ever get multiple viewings due to the subject matter.

“Steal a Pencil for Me” is the story of Holocaust survivors Jack and Ina, a couple that is about to celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary. As the film goes on, we come to realize that they had briefly met before being transported to a concentration camp. Jack was immediately drawn to Ina and asked to be transferred to her same barrack. Since Jack was married, he and Ina had to keep their love a secret and write letters to each other. They were both released from the concentration camp in 1946 and married directly after Jack divorced his wife. The couple has been inseparable ever since and this film does a great job of depicting how much they mean to each other.

This is the newest documentary by Michele Ohayon, who in 2005 won both the Audience and Jury award at South by Southwest for “Cowboy Del Amor.” This film is put together in an amazing fashion, but one thing I like the most (other than the story, of course) was the comprehensive stock footage. Never have I seen so much footage, all the way from Holland at the beginning of the war to videos inside the concentration camps.

The sole problem I had with the documentary had to be the re-enactments. Now the re-enactments themselves didn’t as much bother me. It was more so the voice-over that was used for both Jack and Ina. To be honest I would have rather had Jack or Ina themselves every now and again read an excerpt from their concentration camp love letters. Instead, every time the voice-over and re-enactments started up, all the energy was pulled away from the story because we are stuck to listen to an explanation. The story itself was interesting but the voice-over felt unnecessary.

I am quite surprised that this documentary hasn’t been turned into a narrative film yet. The fact that two people found love in a concentration camp just screams movie of the month. I do have to admit though that I enjoy seeing Jack and Ina onscreen. This was a worthwhile documentary. That said, I doubt that it can be seen more than once because it was truly a difficult film to get through. If you enjoy learning about the Holocaust and how dark a time it was, or you just like a good love story, then check this documentary out.



Posted on March 11, 2007 in Reviews by
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