Nine out of ten Jewish children perished during the Holocaust. Those who survived were hidden. “Hiding Halina” is a documentary about a little girl who beat those odds, as told by the survivor herself.
Personal photos, original artwork, compelling re-enactments, a moving score and, most important, Halina’s ability to tell her story through the eyes of a child make this a unique cinematic experience.
“Hiding Halina” strives to bring a breath of childlike innocence to a genre replete with darkness. Seventy years later, Halina’s story still resonates in a genocidal world where Rwandas and Darfurs are possible.
Genre: Documentary | Total Running Time: 68 Minutes | Producer/Director: Jeff MacIntyre
Halina has seen an unborn baby buried secretly at night. She has seen her mother hanging herself from the ceiling after finding out that her whole family had perished in Auschwitz. She has seen the enemy eye-to-eye and, in a split-second, helped him find his heart. The images in her mind are surreal and grotesque. Yet she remains unembittered.
Amazingly, she tells her story without anger or self-pity. She tells it unselfconsciously, as if she were still a child of five or six living behind barbed wire in a Polish ghetto in 1942.
When she tells us what she saw in this way, we see it as she did. We are transported to the world of a very young child during the Nazi occupation of Poland and are captivated by the sights.
The little girl in the film is now over 70. She is a wife and mother, a well-known psychotherapist. During the course of ‘Hiding Halina’, we see her first as she is now, at home, and then, for the first time since the war, in Poland and Hungary returning to the very places where she spent her childhood in hiding. Yet the actuality of the present somehow fades as we are transported by the power of her narration into the world of a very young child living through the nightmare of the Nazi occupation.
Why tell this story, one of six million? It’s another testament, but from a child’s point of view. And the stories themselves are so dramatic, so vivid and cinematic.
Almost as amazing as her photographic memory are the photographs that survived the war. Somehow Halina managed to hang-on to a substantial collection of family photos. They play an important role in the telling of her story.
Where photos don’t exist, original artwork is employed and manipulated with compelling effect to bring vision to Halina’s vivid memory. Like the storyteller, the art is created from a child’s perspective.
Just another typical, archival-footage laden Holocaust documentary? Not exactly. ‘Hiding Halina’ is a rich multimedia experience. The documentary-style interview drives the story forward. While photographs, original artwork and compelling re-enactments pepper the landscape with detail. Alan Steinberger’s (‘March of the Penguins’, arrangement) original score sets the mood. And footage from a recent trip to Poland and Hungary brings the story full-circle. All without employing one frame of stock footage.
Halina’s uplifting story of survival is timeless and spans all generations. As survivors are taking their memories to the grave, capturing these stories has never been more important. But ‘Hiding Halina’ doesn’t just capture, it captivates. The visually rich texture and childlike tone will appeal to audiences who wouldn’t normally seek out a Holocaust film. Its message transcends the time period and can be applied to today’s intolerance that rages worldwide. And in a genocidal world where Rwandas and Darfurs are still possible, we must never forget the fragility of humanity.
Producer/Director, “Hiding Halina”