Steal a Pencil for Me
Opens Friday at the Roxie.
Michele Ohayon's graceful and moving portrait of elderly survivors Jacap (Jack) Polak and Ina Soep boasts two advantages over almost every other Holocaust documentary: an extraordinary level of craft and a happy ending. Jack and Ina met in Holland before the war; he was unhappily married but stuck with his wife once the deportation of Dutch Jews began. He also maintained a romance with Ina in the camps where the three were interned, occasionally in the same barracks. Ohayon elegantly shifts back and forth between the past and the present, using the remarkable love story to pull us through the horrors of the camps. At the same time, the breadth and depth of suffering and loss imbues Jack and Ina's happiness with a genuine poignancy. The film was inspired by and draws on the love letters they wrote to each other in Bergen-Belsen and Westerbork, many of which survived the war, incredibly, and were published in a 2000 book.