Synopsis by Michael Hastings
As an infant at the dawn of World War II, director Aviva Slesin was handed off by her Jewish parents to a Lithuanian family, for safekeeping from the Nazis. Now, Slesin seeks out the stories of other "adoptees" and their families in the documentary Secret Lives: Hidden Children & Their Rescuers During WWII. Over the course of interviews with over five dozen children who escaped the Holocaust, Slesin learns of the struggles, hardships, and love experienced by these displaced sons and daughters, and about their faint memories of their birth parents. By the same token, Slesin finds out the rationales of the families who took them in -- whether due to goodwill, loyalty, or, in some cases, economic gain -- and even examines the resentment felt by some of them toward their "new" brothers and sisters. Featuring a score by avant-garde composer John Zorn, Secret Lives made the festival rounds in 2002, winning an award at the Hamptons Film Festival before its theatrical release in 2003.
adoption, anti-Semitism, child, family-in-danger, family-separation, ghetto, Holocaust, Lithuania, rescue