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Uncle Chatzkel

Directed by Rob Freedman

Australia | 53 minutes | 2000

Uncle Chatzkel portrays the patient triumph of one man's dignity and intellect over genocide, oppression and personal adversity. Chatzkel Lemchen has lived through the Russian revolution, two world wars, a communist regime and the transition of Lithuania from Soviet republic to an independent state. During the Holocaust his parents and children, along with many of their fellow Jewish citizens, were killed by the Nazis and their Lithuanian supporters. He and his wife were sent to separate concentration camps in Germany. Chatzkel survived through his skills as a linguist and lexicographer, and his dictionaries helped preserve the Lithuanian language during the Soviet era. At 93, he still lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania, providing a bridge between Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish cultures. Now regarded as a national treasure, Chatzkel displays the strength of a survivor, the insight of an intellectual and the humour of a wise man. Chatzkel's enthralling accounts of the turning points in his life have great historical and contemporary relevance. In Rob Freedman's documentary, they are combined with powerful Russian and Lithuanian archival footage, some seen for the first time. The result is a film of great scope, one that helps us to better understand the relationship of the present to the past through the story of an extraordinary individual, Uncle Chatzkel.
Director Rob Freedman
Countries of Production Australia
Year of Presentation 2000
Premiere Status
Runtime 53 minutes
Principal Cast Chatzkel Lemchen
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