SOUVENIRS (Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Part road movie, part history doc, with a little bit of Woody Allen at his most amusingly kvetchy, April's Doc Soup selection, Souvenirs, is funny, touching and sobering all at once.
Postwar Europe was apparently littered with fatherless children, the souvenirs of wartime assignations between foreign soldiers and local girls. Sleiman Cohen, father of co-director Shahar, was one such soldier, part of the Jewish Brigade that helped liberate Italy. One day he lets it slip that he may have left a souvenir or two of his own back in Holland.
Fascinated by the idea of blond, blue-eyed Yemenites, Shahar packs his dad into a tiny car and heads for Europe from Israel. Sleiman, however, wants nothing to do with tracking down his possible offspring; he doesn't want to see anyone for whom he caused sorrow.
The real joys of this film lie not in the unravelling of this family mystery, but in the repartee between father and son as they pick up hitchhikers, dog chicks and grouch at each other. For all his crustiness, Sleiman breaks down at the sight of a war memorial in Italy. Shahar, for his part, has to accept the fact that his dad wasn't a dashing hero, but a regular-Joe foot soldier.
Cohen's directorial debut is a real success. Here's hoping for good work to come. (Bloor Cinema, Wednesday, April 4)