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Liebe Perla

.
Shahar Rozen / 1998

The fascinating story of the special friendship forged between two women: Perla Ubitsch, the last remnant of a family of dwarfs that survived Dr. Mengele’s cruel experiments in Auschwitz, and researcher Hannelore Witkovsky a German Protestant born after the war. Filmed in both Germany and Israel, we accompany Hannelore on her quest to find a lost film made by Dr. Mengele featuring Perla and her siblings.


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Running Time: 53 min.
Subject(s): Disability, European History, Genocide, History, Holocaust, Jewish Studies, Society
Language(s): English, German, Hebrew
Subtitles: English
Director(s):
Producer(s): Edna Kowarsky
Cinematographer: Nurith Aviv, Shahar see all »
Editor(s): Tali Halter-Shenkar
Production Company: Eden Productions

Press

  • At the end of this unique documentary, there is often silence in the room as the audience works to take in the myriad of complexities, ambiguities, moral dilemmas and unanswered questions. Then the opinions, questions and often, arguments, begin. "Liebe Perla" (Dear Perla) is surely one of the most provocative, profound and disturbing disability-themed films ever produced.
    Disability World
  • This meditation on Nazism and generosity often surprises.
    The Chicago Reader
  • From the Jury statment
    “An intelligent, original film that is both restrained and intriguing. The film is very daring in its choice of subject matter and the original cinematic methods it uses, which break away from all the standard techniques and familiar clichés that appear in films of this genre.”
    The ‘Masua’ Award

Festival & Awards

  • Festival Shanghai - 2000
    The Magnolia prize for best Documentary in Humanities
  • Margaret Mid Festival - 2000
  • Superfest Berkley California - 2000
    Special Mention
  • Haifa Film Festival - 1999
    Best Script Award
  • Tursk Film Festiva - 2000
    First Prize for Best Documentary

additional materials

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  • Director’s statement

    Keeping the film’s theme in mind and out of respect for Perla and Hannelore, we were very careful not make a “shocking exposé” about “dwarves”. I believed the director should have a minor presence – in fact, that he should be transparent – so that the heroes could tell their story in their own, special way.”

     

  • Liebe Perla, Memento Mori: On Filming Disability and Holocaust Historyby
    By Sara Eigen, in Women in German Yearbook, 
    Vol. 22 (2006), pp. 1-20
    “Its narrative and cinematographic excellence offer surprisingly novel treatment of issues that include the treatment of the disabled during the Holocaust, the function of film as documentary record, and the potential conflict between personal and political claims upon the archives of history.”
  • Film and Risk

    By Mette Hjort
    Wayne State University Press (2012)

    “The film Liebe Perla is an astonishing 1999 documentary by Israeli filmmaker Shahar Rozen structured around the friendship of two women linked by their size and their histories.”

    Read more here

  • One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal

    By Alice Domurat Drege
    Harvard University Press (2005)

    “In one of the most disturbing moments of Liebe Perla, Ovitz remembers Mengele with a sort of gratitude.’I can’t say anything bad about him,’ she confesses, pointing out that Mengele’s interest in her family’s anatomy led him to become, in a way, their protector.”

    Read more here

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