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Cinephile Report: Souvenirs Directed By Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat


Premieres at Hot Docs Doc Soup on April 4th at the Bloor Cinema, with showings at 6:30pm and 9:15pm. Single tickets are $12 online or at the door. The 9:15pm screening has a limited number of free student tickets with I.D.

Documentary films exploring the father-son relationship are often as endlessly complicated as they are bizzarely touching and Souvenirs, directed by Israelis Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat, is no exception. Co-director Shahar is our lead and we watch as he attempts to explore his 82 year old father Sleiman's past during WWII while he served in the Jewish Brigade.

Cohen, early in his questioning, discovers that Sleiman may have fathered children with young female lovers during the war and in doing so may have left behind little "Souvenirs". Despite his father's adamant refusal to explore the subject, Cohen loads him into a beat up little car and the pair set off.

Shahar, with the help of historians, veterans and Sleiman himself, seeks to covertly find his potential kin while exploring the roots and history of the Jewish Brigade. The duo trek through Italy, Germany and finally Holland griping, bitching, laughing and crying all the way. It's the parental relationship and dynamics that take center stage over history in the film, and provide it with true depth and raw compassion.

Souvenirs is an intriguing history lesson/road movie that serves as a moving portrait of a trip that brings a father and son together. It's full of tender moments and priceless laughs and despite its less than perfect cinematography Souvenirs' heart shines in ways most films seldom do.

This first feature film by Shahar and Halil was the winner of several awards including the Best Documentary Award at the 2006 Doc Aviv Festival and with any luck there will be more work from the pair on its way.


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