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The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen by Jared Rapfogel

There were riches to be found in the Distributors programs as well. I managed to see two, from Video Data Bank (VDB) in Chicago and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) in New York. A standout in VDB’s program was Dana Levy’s This Was Home (2016), a haunting meditation on displacement, memory, and the passage of time. Making remarkable use of a split-screen technique, Levy simultaneously documents three journeys into the past: her grandfather’s trip to his childhood home in Sosnowiec, Poland, from which he was sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz; her father’s return to Cairo, Egypt, where he spent his earliest years before the family’s emigration to Israel; and her own visit to Atlanta, where she spent part of her childhood before her parents returned to Israel. Seeing these three different experiences all at once, with the sound shuttling in turn from one to another, amounts to an immensely powerful reckoning with the tragic rootlessness of the twentieth century Jewish experience, as well as a poetic layering of temporal and geographic dimensions, which amplifies and complicates the ways in which the passing of time and the importance of place can so often become intertwined.

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