(director/writer: Naomi Jaye ; screenwriter: ; cinematographer: Michael LeBlanc ; editor: Jorge Weisz ; music: Ivo Paunov ; cast: Milda Gecaite (Leah), Grisha Pasternak (Jacob), Paskal Vaklev (Danya), David Fox (Shomer); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Daniel Bekerman/Naomi Jaye; Main Street Films; 2013-B/W-Canada-in Yiddish with English subtitles)

The first ever Yiddish film made in Canada.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A folklore fable that might be a version of The Blue Lagoon unfolding as a much bleaker Holocaust fable. This drama is the first ever Yiddish film made in Canada. The Canadian TV writer-director Naomi Jaye helms her debut feature film and tries to do it on a very small budget by a methodical means of direction. It’s set during World War II, in Lithuania. Two Jewish teens are hiding in the hay of a barn–a boy named Jacob (Grisha Pasternak) and a girl named Leah (Milda Gecaite). They escaped either being taken to a concentration camp or shot like their families were by Nazi soldiers and Russian collaborators. In the present day, the teen boy is now an elderly religious watchman, a Shomer (David Fox), who works in a morgue and performs the Jewish ritual of watching over the dead body until burial. When sitting over a woman’s corpse, flashbacks show his memories returning when he realizes he’s watching over his long lost first love. The two stories are told so they link the past with the present. One of a love that emerges from a desperate situation of despair and another of an almost impossible promise fulfilled that was made long ago. Though the story is worth telling, it never gets enough nourishment to be as potent as it should be because the plot is too schematic and the actors (except for a stirring performance by Gecaite) are wooden. Yet I would recommend it, despite being a tough watch, because it triggers things from the past that must never be forgotten if we are to get on with our lives and not face again the same past horrors.