‘Fire Birds’

Director Amir Wolf

This suspenseful and culturally insightful feature film from Israel follows a detective who tried to figure out why an elderly man with a mysterious identity, and an apparent Holocaust survivor, was killed and tossed in the sea. It’s a stark and poignant look at Israel’s aging population, touching on reparations, Nazi sympathizers, and a people’s unique moral compass.


What made you want to tell this story?

Ever since I can remember myself, the subject of the Holocaust fascinated me. As I grew older, I started seeing interviews with people talking about the Israeli ethos. As you may know, Israel is a land of immigrants; some of them came from Europe and some from Arab countries. I saw and read some interviews with people, whose origins are in Arab countries, saying that because they have no connection with the Holocaust, they sometimes don’t feel a part of the Israeli ethos. I always found that interesting and thought about this story of a man that wants to be a part of a larger group, a part of the ethos. Add to that I was always fascinated by my Jewish Polish family — their humor, their strength, and wanted to immortalize this generation.

How is the Holocaust survivor community treated in Israel?

These days, when you read in the papers or watch the news and hear about the general condition of the Holocaust survivors, it is a poor one. Most of them live in poverty and can’t live the rest of their lives with dignity and respect, as for a large percentage of old people in Israel in general.

In my film I go back a decade or so, and not showing a documentation ofHholocaust survivors in Israel today, but describing a small group in this larger one, of people who “made it” and use the money they made in their lifetime and the money they get as reparations from the German government in order to live the rest of their life with a certain degree of pleasure. In this way this film is not a Holocaust film, but a film describing certain characters in Tel Aviv today who live their life while they are constantly being haunted by the memory of the holocaust.

Have many pretended to be Holocaust survivors?

Not that I know of. While I did my research I heard some stories of people who slightly changed their biographies in order to receive more reparations.

One has to understand that, until 1961’s Eichman trial, the survivors were looked upon as lambs to the slaughter. After the trial, when the truth came to light, people changed the way they look at this group of people who survived hell on earth and continued living. Suddenly this group became something of an Israeli aristocracy, in the absence of a better word to describe it.

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