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by Rose Finlay

Asaf Saban, Poland, Israel, Germany 2023

It is not uncommon for Israeli teenagers to take a school trip to Poland to visit the concentration camps and other memorial sites of the Shoah. Frisch (Yoav Bavly), Nitzan (Neomi Harari), and Ido (Leib Lev Levin) are taking part in such a trip, and in some ways, it is the typical school trip with teenagers, full of fun, jokes, and drama. Yet when confronted daily with the dark and disturbing history of the Holocaust, the experience is much more emotional and difficult.

Where HA’MISHLAHAT really shines, is in its accurate portrayal of teenagers on a school trip with such a heavy backdrop. The expectation is for them to be mature, to respect the memorials and gain a deep insight. Reality is a bit more complicated as they are actually more focused on interpersonal affairs such as relationship drama and loneliness and go about completing required memorial tasks with rote efficiency. But slowly, despite the inherent self-centered nature of the group, they each individually start to connect with the tragedy of the historical sights. Meanwhile, Yosef (Ezra Dagan), Frisch’s grandfather and a Holocaust survivor, tells the disjointed and emotional tale of his life, trying to get the kids to connect, and we see the parallels and differences between the lives of a teenagers throughout time. HA’MISHLAHAT is an excellent portrayal of the complexities of cultural memory and the struggle to keep young generations connected to the past.