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This week for “Close-Up with Camenker”,  Zach reviews . . . WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT…! (June 4, 2021)

Click here for the blurb and viewing link of WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT!

As a committee member of this year’s virtual New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, I was beyond thrilled to see that Red River chose to include the outstanding drama WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT among the selections in its online screening room. In my opinion, this piece was among the best of the Festival’s titles this year and I couldn’t be happier to know that our long-time partners at Red River saw fit to pick it up following the end of its run at the Festival.

Adapted from Judith Kerr’s autobiographical novel of the same name, WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT traces the rise of Nazism in Germany through a child’s eyes, ultimately taking the audience on an odyssey across countries.

The film begins in Germany with the patriarch of a Jewish family being hunted down for his unapologetic criticism of Hitler as he rises to power. It quickly shifts to the perspective of his nine-year-old daughter Anna, an imaginative and high spirited child whose whole life is upended when her family begins a series of relocations to avoid the Nazis.

A beautifully made film from start to finish, there are so many strengths to this piece. Although it is an understandably troubling story filled with its share of horrific undertones, it is not a typical “Holocaust movie,” for lack of a better term. Having screened films for the Festival for a few years now, I can understand the hesitancy some audience members may have with another film centered around Nazism in World War II. 

What separates WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT from other films is its central focus on childhood and the incredible bravery and strength it took so many children like nine-year-old Anna and her older brother Max to push through adversity at such a challenging developmental time in their life. It helps too that the young actors who portray the two characters, Riva Krymalowski and Marinus Hohmann, offer such strong performances that anchor the overall strength of the film itself.

I’ve often heard people say that narratives centered around children can fall flat in other ways or come across as “amateur” stories on screen. While I certainly have shared that thought with certain films, perhaps due to not always identifying with the child at hand, that is not the case with this film. Additionally, the expert performances by Anna and Max’s parents, who help anchor the familial themes of the narrative, provide a great semblance of relatability for those of us with tight-knit family units that have overcome adversity or challenges, even in small ways.

The script helps a lot here as well, especially as the setting and location shift so consistently across Europe and characters come and go. It’s clear that the screenwriters expertly adapted Kerr’s novel and sought to provide a detailed backstory that is both relatable and deeply moving for all who take the journey with the Kemper family.

WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT also benefits from the fantastic aesthetics that so clearly provide it with the period “look” that it needs. The camera work that is done to achieve a variety of seasons and times across locations resonates beautifully, as do the themes that work into the dialogue and setting. So often during the course of the movie, I remarked to myself just how beautiful or touching a scene was. Talk about a film that will stay with you for a long time. I’ve now seen it twice and have had a hard time getting it out of my head each time.

Above all else, what the film does is it helps us to never forget. While we often hear that phrase in relation to the Holocaust and to Genocide overall, I think what it does here is help us never forget that this era in history affected so many people for such different reasons. Once again, it proves the point that children and families who stay together are indeed lucky to have each other and that they rise to the occasion to overcome adversity, even at an age when they traditionally are not expected to. I hope you will catch this gorgeous work of art and enjoy it as much as I did.


Stay tuned for Volume XIV, which will appear on Friday, June 18. Next film to be determined.”

Click here to learn more about Zach Camenker!

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