Like Daniel Mendelsohn’s nonfiction bestseller “The Lost,” docu “The Green Dumpster Mystery,” from multihyphenate Tal Haim Yoffe, vividly evokes the now-extinguished lives of an extended family seared by the Holocaust and modern Israeli tragedies. A tightly paced tour de force of detection, narrated in unpretentious v.o. by the filmmaker, engrossing pic achieves a unique tone that’s not oppressively heavy. Touching yet unsentimental, it reps a quality find for fests and broadcasters and deserves long life on DVD.
When Yoffe discovers old photos and documents in a Tel Aviv dumpster, he attempts to trace their history. Websites maintained by Yad Vashem and the Israeli Defense Forces inspire a visit to a fallen soldiers’ cemetery, where surprising meetings lead to multiple interviews and poignant caches of original materials. Ultimately, Yoffe pieces together the odyssey of Holocaust survivors Jacob and Pola Wolkowicz from Poland to a Siberian gulag; from a sugar factory in Uzbekistan to the Gordonia kibbutz movement in Germany. Making creative use of budgetary restrictions, Yoffe’s eloquent paraphrasing of his interviewees eliminates the need for a soundman and keeps the pic taut. Tech credits are pro, with musical score a standout.