Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 101 minutes
SIFF Says:At the end of the Third Reich, most surviving Jews from the Holocaust understandably left Germany as fast as possible. But former Sachsenhausen inmate David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu), among about 4,000 other real-life survivors who remained, sees his blasted homeland as a land of opportunity. He dreams of reopening his family’s seized linen business in Frankfurt, but American forces deny him a license; with his haughty demeanor and fancy suit, David is suspected to be a Nazi collaborator by occupation forces and is subject to questioning by Special Agent Sara Simon (Antje Traue). Undaunted, he gathers a group of Jewish salesmen to help him peddle imported linens door-to-door, stressing that they never resort to stoking German guilt to seal the deal―they are to be legitimate businessmen, not victims. Director Sam Garbarski maintains an upbeat tone for most of the film, wringing sly humor from the absurdities faced by the salesmen, but memories of the horrors they each faced lie just under the surface; David’s flashbacks to the camps reveal his survivor’s guilt as his smooth-talking of the guards helped save him from the ovens while the rest of his family perished. Garbarski’s adaptation of German-Swiss novelist Michel Bergmann’s Teilacher trilogy is a tale of reassimilation and rebirth, and of how maintaining a sense of humor is a vital step toward redemption.
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