Arnon Goldfinger's "The Flat": Holocaust memory, film noir, and the pain of others

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This article engages with one of the most successful contemporary Israeli documentaries, Arnon Goldfinger’s The Flat (Israel, 2011). Its success, both in Israel and worldwide, has been attributed to the unusual relationship it reveals: the sustained friendship between the Tuchlers, a Jewish-Israeli couple of German origin who were the director’s grandparents, and a German couple, of whom the husband was none other than the notorious Nazi officer Leopold von Mildenstein (1902–1968). Using a first-person narration, Israeli director Goldfinger sets out to investigate this weird friendship and discovers, completely by accident, what Susan Sontag termed “the pain of others.” He also comes to recognize himself as a second (or maybe third) generation survivor of the Holocaust: that he is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. These two discoveries shake the very foundations of his Israeli identity, since the new Israeli culture to which Goldfinger belongs has invested countless efforts in concealing the vulnerability, physical weakness, and eventual flawed masculinity of the “Old Jew.” These two narrative lines intersect through the filmmaker’s adoption of one of the most fascinating cinematic genres, film noir—an unprecedented choice in Israeli documentary, which, as this article will demonstrate, was above all an ethical choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalJewish Film and New Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI 48201-1309.

RAMBI publications

  • Goldfinger, Arnon -- 1963-
  • Ha-dirah (Motion picture)
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945), in motion pictures
  • Family secrets -- Israel
  • Documentary films -- Israel -- History and criticism
  • Jews, German -- Israel -- Biography
  • Nazis in motion pictures


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