A Film Unfinished

  • Israel
  • Documentary
  • 2010
  • 89 min.
  • Director(s): Yael Hersonki
  • Producer(s): Noemi Schory, Itay Ken-Tor


This film seeks for the truth behind one of the most mysterious Nazi propaganda films ever shot inside the Warsaw Ghetto. A rough draft of a silent film which juxtaposes meticulously staged scenes of Jews enjoying a life of luxury in the ghetto with other, chilling images that required no staging at all.

Ironically, after the war, filmmakers and museums used bits and pieces from the film as objective, general illustrations of the narratives collected from survivors and written documents. Few people were aware of the cynical manner in which these images were created and the true, yet inconceivable witness they bear. The cinematic deception was forgotten and the black and white images remained engraved in memory as historical truth.

The film interweaves diary entries written by ghetto inhabitants during the filming, the testimonies of living survivors who still remember the filming, and for the first time a rare interrogation protocol of one of the German cameramen, testifying about his role in the making of the film.

By juxtaposing the filmed scenes with its behind-the-scenes’ layered reality, ‘A Film Unfinished’ shakes our uncritical trust in the photographic image and the way we perceive the historical past.

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Yael Hersonki


Noemi Schory, Itay Ken-Tor


MDR, SWR, Yes Docu


Itai Neeman


Joëlle Alexis

Original Language

English, Hebrew, German, Polish, Yiddish


English, Hebrew

In cooperation with


Support by

The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and Television, Yad Vashem Film Project.

Developed with the assistance of


Sound design

Aviv Aldema

Photo Credit

Itay Neeman

Festival Highlights

  • Winner

    Van Leer Best Documentary Award
    Jerusalem Film Festival
  • Winner

    the Forum for the Preservation of Audio-Visual Memory Award
    Jerusalem Film Festival
  • Winner

    Best Editing Award
    Sundance Film Festival
  • Winner

    WGA Documentary Screenplay Award
    Silverdocs Festival
  • Winner

    Best International Feature Award
    Hot Docs
  • Winner

    Magnolia international Documentary Award
    Shanghai TV Film Festival

EDOC- Ecuador Documentary Film Festival, Ecuador, 2011

One World Film Festival, Romania, 2011

Makedox International Film Festival , Macedonia, 2011

Beldocs International Documentary Film Festival , Serbia, 2011

Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia, 2010

Bangkok International Film Festival , Thailand, 2010

Taiwan International Film Festival, Taiwan, 2010

Hong Kong Independent Film Festival, Hong Kong, 2010

Pitigliano Rome Film Festival, Italy, 2010

Rio International Film Festival, Brazil, 2010

Jerusalem Film Festival, Israel, 2010

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, USA, 2010

Hot Docs, Canada, 2010

Berlin International Film Festival, Germany, 2010

Sundance Film Festival, USA, 2010

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  • "Moving, mysterious and intellectually provocative!"
    - New York Times, Critic's Pick
  • "A Film Unfinished engages us, challenges us, and most importantly, teaches us -- not only about history, but about what we take for granted, and what we assume to be truth"
    - HOT DOCS Review
  • "'GRADE: A' A profound and vital documentary"
    - Lisa Schwartzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
  • "Harrowing. A historically invaluable doc."
    - John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter