209 rue Saint-Maur, Paris, 10ème – The Neighbours

209 rue Saint-Maur, Paris, 10ème – The Neighbours

Documentary Film
103 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Paul Rozenberg, Céline Nusse (Zadig Productions)
Ruth Zylberman
Nicolas Repac
Cédric Dupire
Valérie Loiseleux
Benjamin Bober, Graciela Barrault
The French director and historian Ruth Zylberman is sitting in a living room in the USA, visiting a 79-year-old man whom his Jewish parents hid with a stranger’s family during the German occupation of Paris. Henry Osman, born Henri Ossmann, hardly remembers his parents – not what they looked like, not what they did for a living. Zylberman has brought a pile of paper copies and is able to reconstruct parts of that childhood.

The house whose address gave the film its title – and where Osman lived as a small boy – is located in the Jewish district of Paris. Zylberman reconstructed the house community during the war in great detail: who lived here? Who knew whom? Re-enactments with dollhouse furniture and drawn floor plans at the former residents’ kitchen tables alternate with contemporary views of the building as she re-creates this typical Paris building in the Saint-Maur No. 209 as an anachronistic space in which history is still alive, right down to the cobbled courtyard. A highly focused and at the same time extremely emotional piece of experimental historiography.

Lukas Stern