Despite its WWII roots, Israeli helmer Ido Haar's Jewish family saga has nothing to do with the Holocaust, but instead concerns the filmmaker's maternal grandfather. A high-ranking Red Army officer in postwar Latvia, he abandoned the woman who bore him a daughter and disappeared completely -- until Haar tracks him down in Siberia.

Despite its WWII roots, Israeli helmer Ido Haar’s Jewish family saga, “Melting Siberia,” has nothing to do with the Holocaust, but instead concerns the filmmaker’s maternal grandfather. A high-ranking Red Army officer in postwar Latvia, he abandoned the woman who bore him a daughter and disappeared completely — until Haar tracks him down in Siberia via the Internet. But the film’s unquestioned star is Haar’s mother Marina, who melts Siberia and across whose mobile expressive face the drama of abandonment and reconciliation is played out. Affecting, low-key docu could resonate on cable.

In Israel, clutching a page of phone numbers, Marina struggles through decades- long resentment and resignation to reach out and call the father she never knew, the camera intimately framing her face in close-up as she awkwardly contacts her newfound “other” family of half-sisters and half-brothers. Throughout the various stages of the belated reunion — via letters, phone calls and finally Marina and Ido’s trip to Siberia — the camera stays in close proximity to the quietly courageous woman, her kaleidoscopic emotions mirrored in the genetically similar face of the man she has waited 57 years to meet.

Melting Siberia

Israel

Production

A Norma production. Produced by Assaf Amir, Yoav Roeh. Directed by Ido Haar.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Uri Akerman, Nitzan Ofir, Amitai Arnon; editor, Alit Gorenm, Haar; music, Yoav Katsir. Reviewed on videocassette at New York Jewish Film Festival, Jan. 23, 2006. Hebrew, Russian, English dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.
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