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Mama, L'Chaim!

The Holocaust is still alive in the 21st Century in the children and grandchildren of concentration camp survivors. They still have to cope with the consequences of the Shoah.

62-year-old Chaim Lubelski lives with his 95-year-old mother in a one-bedroom apartment in a Jewish residential home for the elderly. Chaim’s mother, Nechama, was born in Poland and survived the Nazi concentration camps. Her parents and her first husband were killed in Auschwitz. After the war, she and her second husband, Wolf, also a concentration camp survivor, wanted to emigrate to America, but they were denied because of Wolf’s tuberculosis and forced to stay in Germany.

Knowing what his parents had endured, Chaim made it his mission in life to care for them as they got older. After attending to his father during the last years of his life, he has spent the last three years caring for his mother 24 hours a day. These lively and humorous characters share both the light-hearted antics of daily life and the tears and memories of the Holocaust.

Like his name, Chaim stands for life. With faith and humor, he accepts his fate and never gives up hope.

L’Chaim! (To Life!)

Film notes

Going beyond psychology and historical facts, Mama, L’Chaim! avoids becoming another heavy Holocaust film and offers an insightful, touching and surprisingly joyful look at the plight of the descendents of concentration camp survivors.

My cousin Chaim is an unforgettable person and, I believe, an unprecedented character in documentary film. His magnetic personality, powerful intellect and uncanny ability to express his unique interpretations of the world make him both an entertaining figure and a deeply thoughtful and insightful commentator on the human condition. This film is, in part, a chance for the audience to be drawn into a conversation with him.

L’Chaim is a project very close to my heart. Like Chaim’s parents, my father was a concentration camp survivor, and we share grandparents who were killed in Auschwitz. The Holocaust lives on in the children and grandchildren of Holocaust victims, and people cope in a variety of ways. I want the world to be as surprised and inspired as I have been by how Chaim has chosen to live his life. Because Chaim is my cousin and his mother is the sister of my father, there is an openness in the film that I hope helps the audience to feel like they are sitting in the room with the characters.

While it does deal with serious issues, this is not another heavy Holocaust film, and it transcends psychology and historical analysis by third parties. These characters cry and lament, but they also laugh and sing, and I prefer to let them tell their own story and live their complex lives in front of the camera.
holocaust family war history

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Copyright

Copyright © 2009 Elkan Spiller

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Previous screenings

2009
Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles Short Film Awards | 2009
22 Jan | Los Angeles, United States
Berlinale: Berlin International Film Festival
5 Feb – 15 Feb | Berlin, Germany
2010
1 Sep – 1 Dec | Long Island, United States

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Classification

all ages (Germany)

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 15 Dec 2009