Monday, June 20, 2011

The Four Seasons Lodge - a documentary directed by Andrew Jacobs 2010

"[Director Andrew Jacob's] pitch-perfect film provides an affectionate look at a brave, disappearing subculture." from a review by Lou Lumenick in the New York Post 11/13/2009

The Four Seasons Lodge near Ellenville in the Catskill Mountains in New York was for twenty-five years a bungalow colony that served as refuge for a group of Holocaust survivors mostly from Poland. At the time of the filming the survivors were in their 80’s and 90’s. Some of the original members had died and some were ailing. But life goes on, and this moving documentary records the day-to-day summer lives of these survivors in their cabins and in the main lodge where they socialize at dinner dances, where they play cards, and eat some communal meals.

Amongst themselves their pasts are acknowledged but mostly unspoken. However, many, prodded, talk briefly in the camera’s presence about their experiences during the war. Some exhibit bitterness and anger, some say little, some tell their stories in a matter-of-fact tone. Some refuse to talk. But what comes across time and again is that the traumas they experienced during World War II – displacement, torture, hunger, sickness, the death of loved ones - are an integral part of who they are, and that they understand each other like no one else outside that experience can. They feel comfortable amongst each other. They have become a large surrogate family.

Beyond their shared tragic past, however is also the camaraderie prompted by memories of life before the war- shared customs and culture. Though they have been in America many more years than they lived in Poland, many of them switched easily between speaking English, Yiddish and Polish.

The documentary has many joyous moments. Despite the tragedies inflicted on them during World War II, they survived, married (or re-married), had children, became successful in businesses and careers, found each other, and celebrated each summer by spending it together. But there is an obvious elegiac quality to the film as well. They are old and many are frail. They realize that they cannot keep coming to Four Seasons Lodge much longer. They had actually voted to sell it the previous summer and at the end of the documentary we are witness to a meeting where they reconsider. Can they cancel the sale? We see that the will to live and continue as a community is strong.

To learn more about the movie and to see a 2 1/2 minute trailer, click here.

Lodge members (not all with speaking parts in the film)
Hyman and Tosha Abramowitz
Aron and Basie Adelman
Pola Alexander
Rose Ashkenazy
Ella Berenstein
Lisa Bernstein
Esther Bershtel
Ruth Bieber
Sonya Blumenfeld
Olga Bowman
Eugenia Boyman
Jack and Rosa Braun
Henry and Rose Brewster
Sol and Rose Bronheim
Sima Broszencki
Tobias Buchman
Leon and Hanka Chain
Harris and Ann Chandler
Tadeusz and Jadwiga Chrostowscy
Edith Dach
Irving and Etel Drexler
Yankel and Tusia Elkes
Josef Feinsilber
Isaak Fenster
Chava (Claire) Ligorski-Fenster
Joe Fenster
Joseph and Minnie Fox
Paula Ganis
Sam Gaska
Esther Geizhals
Sol Glazer
Henry and Carola Greenspan
Helga Grunberg
Regina and Morris Grysman
Miriam Hendler
Nettie Insdorf
Carolina Jerud
Nadzia Josefowicz
Etel Kotlarski
Victor and Regina Lewis
Eva Ligorski
Pola Lubat
Linda Mandelbaum
Lucy Myers
Felicia Neuwirth
Ted and Susan Ostrowitz
Regina Peterseil
Joseph and Minnie Plonsky
Joseph Hedy Pollack
Carl and Cesia Potok
David and Ester Potok
Anita Skorecky Reisner
Sidney Rosen
Toby Rosenstein
Lola Rotschwalb
Max Rubin
Helen Schwartzberg
Bella Shampan
Leon Sherman
Rose Simpser
Anita and Martin Skorecky
Erna Strenger
Charles and Pola Swietarski
Irving and Shari Weinberger
Sophie Welwart
Lola Wenglin
Sabina Zeimel

Catskill Mountains, NY

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