You’ll want to read this if you are joining us for “Liebe Perla” at the DISLABELED Film Series, May 16th @ CUNY Graduate Center (and we hope you are!)
Shahar Rozen.1999. 53 min. Video. (Israel/Germany)
During the Holocaust, Dr. Josef Mengele conducted “scientific” experiments on a Hungarian Jewish family of actors and musicians, all people of short stature. Fifty years later, Hannelore Witkofski, a woman of short stature born in post-war Germany, befriends the only surviving family member, Perla Ovitz, now living in Israel. Perla asks Hannelore if she would look for a film that Mengele made of her family in Auschwitz. As we follow the search, Liebe Perla resurrects a lost history – the history of brutality toward and murder of disabled people in Nazi Germany.
This astounding, intimate film tells us as much about the present moment as it does about that troubled past – the friendship of two women, Hannelore and Perla, and, more broadly, the social positioning of disabled people in these so-called enlightened times. Shahar Rozen, director of Liebe Perla, said in a recent interview “keeping the film’s theme in mind and out of respect for Perla and Hannelore, we were very careful not to make a ‘shocking exposé’ about ‘dwarfs.’ I believed the director should have a minor presence – in fact, he should be transparent – so that the heroes could tell their story in their own way.”
Liebe Perla has received several significant prizes at international film festivals, has been shown on leading European TV stations, including NDR Germany and ARTE France, and was featured in the “Reframing Disability” series at the 2000 Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival in New York.