The Testament is an engaging suspense drama based on true events that took place during the end of WW2, the horrible assassination of 200 Jews, in the fields of a small village in Austria.
The hero of the film, Yoel, a senior Holocaust researcher, is in the midst of a widely covered legal battle with powerful forces in Austria, concerning a brutal massacre of Jews that took place toward the end of WWII in the village of Lensdorf. An influential family of industrialists on whose land the murder took place is planning to build a real estate project on the very same land. Yoel suspects that their aim is to bury the affair for good, but has trouble finding the conclusive evidence that would stop the project.
While investigating the incident Yoel examines classified testimonies of Holocaust survivors, and to his shock and surprise, he finds a testimony given by his mother, a testimony he did not know existed. In her testimony, she confesses to a substantial secret from her past.
Yoel, who's conducting a double-investigation, personal and scientific, is trapped between walls of silence - on one side, denial of the Holocaust on the part of the villagers, and on the other, his mother's silence regarding her past. As a historian with an unshakeable commitment to the truth, he decides to continue his investigations even at the cost of ruining his personal and professional life.
Amichai greenberg, director and scriptwriter started working on the script 12 years ago with the intent to share an existential experience which was for him very concrete.
“I knew I was about to deal with the loss and grasp of my individual identity. I grew up with the understanding that the fact that I am a religious Jew stands at the root of my existence, a truth that is larger than me and life itself.
Those days I was documenting the testimonials of holocaust survivors... I shot hundreds of stories, moving and clenching stories alongside extremely boring onea, horrid stories alongside surprising and inspiring ones.
As a child I used to listen to my grandmothers holocaust stories, for me they where the best adventure stories. Karl Mai and his mighty hand didn’t touch the ankles of my grandfather and what he did in order to buy fake documents to save my father and his sister. I grew up within these bigger than life stories in which there was only a thin line separating life from death.
On the other side my life with my father was one of big silence, in which the emotional dimension existed only through faith, religion and holidays. A life based on religious ideals, sublime faith and a sense of detachment from the surrounding Israeli reality.
The great gap between the two worlds left me voiceless. This script is my stubborn effort to penetrate these transparent walls.
The journey of writing the script took years of self-discovery and frustration, I faced many moments of internal silence, an inability to talk, write, verbalize the intangible, to mold the silence and rage into words.
I changed with the writing, broadened my religious views, changed my children's education and got a divorce.
The film was for me like facing a therapeutic mirror together with a work of art.
I was interested to write a story about an introverted man, dedicated to the truth, which does not desire publicity or authority. What will happen to such a man when he will find out that the truth for which he has given his soul for is not by his definitions "truth", what will happen to a man whose most inner definition is taken away from him, what will a man who finds himself standing on shattered ground do?"
(From the Directors statement)
"The Testament" won the Best Israeli Feature Film award at the 2017 Haifa Intl. Film Festival.
International premier: Venice Film Festival
Further International Film Festivals include: Busan, Stockholm, Warsaw
Yoel: Ori Pfeffer
Fania: Rivka Gur
Rina: Hagit Dasberg
Miki: Ori Yaniv
Miriam: Orna Rothberg
Yonatan: Daniel Adari
Director & Script: Amichai Greenberg
Produced by: Yoav Roeh, Aurit Zamir – Gum Films
Photography: Moshe Mishali
Editing: Gilad Inbar