LATVIA / 2002 / Russian, Hebrew / Color, B&W / Video / 105 min
Director, Script, Narrator: Herz Frank
Photography: Herz Frank, Victor Griberman, Grigory Maniuk, Juris Podnieks, Andris Seleckis, Kalvis Zalcmanis, Sergey Nikolaev, Andris Slapins, Vladimir Plotke, Valdis Eglitis, Ralfs Krumins
Editing: Sergey Usanov
Sound: Aivars Riekstins, Sergey Usanov
Music: Liudgard Gedravichus, David Krupnik, Georg F. Händel
Producer: Herz Frank, Guntis Trekteris
Production Companies: Studio EFEF, Kaupo Filma, ZDF/ARTE
Source: Herz Frank
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An autobiographical work from Herz Frank. Images guide us through the countries in which he worked, interspersed with fragments from his earlier films: births, autopsies, circumcisions, prisoners awaiting execution and other shocking themes. These culminate in scenes from the director’s own heart surgery. The earnestness with which he continues to confront “life” and “death,” using himself as the subject, vividly brings traces of his seventy-five-year journey to the surface.
[Directors Statement] This is a confession in film, dedicated to all the cameramen whom I had the honor of working with, and whose one eye was dry and the other one—in tears. Each of the 400 shots in this film is a true document, together forming an imaginative weave of a dramatic plot, unique philosophy, personal world perception, and certainly, visual culture.
Flashback—born from the 1978 short film Ten Minutes Older. Cameraman Juris Podnieks and I shot this film in one take at the Puppet Theater. For ten minutes, uninterrupted, we were looking into the face of a little boy in the third row . . . . And in the half-dark of the theater hall we were watching the depths of the human soul reflected in this tremulous face. In 1999, I decided to return to this boy. What happened to this tremulous soul in real life, with real, not fairy-tale, good and evil?
The door to the new film was opened to me by the White Angel; the Black Angel was hiding behind it. My wife came down with a terminal disease, and I myself had to face a heart operation. I was on the verge of giving up everything. But the challenge of documentary filmmaking was stronger than me.
I turned the camera on myself, and I looked back . . . Flashback! I looked back at my films, at my life which, as it turned out, it was possible to prolong if the open heart was touched. I looked back at the sad destiny of my wife who had faded away in front of my eyes . . . at my tiny hometown Ludza in Latvia—a small town where I was born, where everything had begun. My mom was a dentist, and my dad was a photographer whose life dream was to make a film . . .
Graduated from the School of Law, Moscow in 1947. Worked as a journalist, lecturer, and ad designer. From 1959 worked at Riga Film Studios as a photographer, editor, documentary scriptwriter and director. Directed more than thirty documentaries. Has been living in Israel since 1993. Has received many international awards, and works have been covered in more than 160 publications, including books, magazines, and newspapers worldwide. Works include 235,000,000 (1967), Without Legends (1967), The Trace of Soul (1972), The Last Judgment (1987), Once There Were Seven Simeons (1989, winner of the Runner-up Prize at YIDFF ’91), The Jewish Street (1992), and Madonna with a Child, XXth Century (2001).