This past week-and-a-half I attended some screenings of the Jewish Film Festival. The movies I saw were to me bland and unoriginal, however there were two documentaries that were very impressive and I whole-heartedly recommend you seek out.
HBO's Watermarks tells the story of the Hakoah Vienna Sports Club, specifically the women's swimming team, which were some of the most outstanding sportspeople in history. With the arrival of Hitler and life becoming increasingly humiliating and unbearable, the girls managed to leave and were scattered around the world. This documentary unites them after 65 years, for a swim in their beloved pool in Vienna. The women are magnificent and their stories unmissable.
There is a scene in the film that is jaw-dropping. The women are returning to Vienna. Greta, the formidable diver who emigrated to New Jersey, takes a cab from the airport to her hotel. The cabbie is mid-30s, and they chat about how this is her first time back in more than 60 years. He asks, "so you emigrated 60 years ago?", Greta replies, "yes...well, I was kicked out". Silence. You think the cabbie is uncomfortable. He makes small talk with a nonchalant, "they were hard times". Greta: "yes...it was easier for some people though..." The cabbie chirps up, "but this is not your homeland." Greta smiles and calmly says, "well I was born here, my mother was born here". "But you are a non-native...it was worse for those who were non-natives. Not German". Here is a young man and in this everyday exchange of passenger and cabbie we uncover the hatred is still running through the veins of our modern days.