JIFF’s Melbourne opening

October 26, 2018 by Toni Susskind
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This year’s JIFF kicked off with a bang of the Classic Cinema on Wednesday 24th October.

Eddie Tamir

The sold out event began with several hundred people standing in the foyer, listening to the 3 piece jazzy band Yonatan is a giraffe, eating canapes and drinking from the inhouse bar.

After several jazzy upbeat Israeli songs, including one or two from the effervescent owner of the Classic Cinema, Eddie Tamir, the patrons retreated to the two cinemas that had been allocated for the night, to watch the movie The Interpreter.

The movie which debuted at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, is the story of a road trip between two men who should be natural born enemies. One, is the child of an SS officer who was second in command of a concentration camp, whilst the other, is the child of Holocaust victims.

Directed by Martin Sulik, the movie begins with Ali Unger (Jiri Menzel), knocking on Georg’s (Peter Simonischek) door and asking for his father “SS Obersturmbannfuher Graubner.” Georg tell him that his father is dead, and reluctantly lets Ali in to use the bathroom.

Once inside the Vienna apartment, Ali tells Georg that he is a translator and whilst translating Georg’s father’s story of the war, he has found a section that describes the murder of his own parents. Believing that Georg’s dad is responsible for their deaths, Ali has turned to up the apartment with the intention of killing the father.

After a short terse discussion, where Georg refuses to apologise for his father’s misdeeds, Ali calls him an anti-semite and leaves. That should have been the end of the story, however, soon after, Georg finds Ali and asks him to work as a translator for him.

Georg has found some of his father’s letters from the 1940’s when his father was in Czechoslavakia, and wants to see the places mentioned. Ali reluctantly agrees to go along and thus begins an usual friendship.

The first half of the road trip is an amusing contrast between the two men. Ali plays the role of Jewish survivor with restraint, his trademark neatly pressed overcoat and brown suitcase rarely leaves his side, as he constantly frowns in disapproval at the alcoholic burnt out teacher. Georg in contrast, is a gregarious man, who has been married 3 times, and appears to always be on the hunt for fun.

The two men seem to have nothing in common, yet, as the movie plays out, we start to see a connection form between the two. As their relationship builds, the film gradually changes focus, loosing its humour and teasing out the idea, does the past ties us to the present, and if it does, does it define who we are?

Confronted by the atrocities of the war and the “lets not talk about it” attitude by many of the Czech people, Georg drops his falsely blaze attitude, eventually admitting to Ali’s daughter, that he feels that he and Ali share a fate. Ali is a victim of the Holocaust, and Georg who is the son of a murderer, also feels like a victim.

A slow paced movie, The Interpreter takes its time building its point, however, it was certainly worth the wait. A powerful movie that stays with you, even when the film has long since ended.


To check out the full program click on:


The JIFF runs :


Event Cinemas Bondi Junction 23 Oct – 21 Nov
*New for 2018* Roseville Cinemas 10 – 21 Nov


Classic Cinema Elsternwick 24 Oct – 21 Nov
Lido Cinemas Hawthorn 25 Oct – 21 Nov
Cameo Cinemas Belgrave 8 – 18 Nov


Dendy Cinemas Canberra 1 – 11 Nov


Greater Union Morley 7 – 18 Nov


New Farm Cinemas 8 – 18 Nov

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