Half the Town / Die Hälfte der Stadt

The Hebrew word “Chaim” means “life.” This explains the exceptional formal approach of director Pawel Siczek. The elaborate animation – inspired by the works of painter Marc Chagall and naive painting from the Kozienice region – brings a long since forgotten world back to life. Photographer Berman’s legacy of approximately 10,000 portraits on glass negatives remained undiscovered for decades, showing unidentified people from Chaim Berman’s everyday life, faces from a European era which is forever lost. These glass negatives are the basis for a film that attempts to reconstruct the life of its creator. Chaim Berman was born in 1890 in the small Polish town of Kozienice. From an early age he was excited about photography, which his own father taught him. He soon began to portray the people of Kozienice – Poles, Jews, and Germans – who coexisted there in almost complete freedom. Once the political climate began to turn gloomy in the 1930s, Berman kept fighting for the continuation of the different groups’ cohabitation. As town councilor, he continued to mediate between the different cultures and religions. Until the very end, he refused to leave Poland because he firmly believed in a political solution. This was a fateful decision for him when the Nazis assaulted his home country. Suddenly, Berman’s supposed friends turned into enemies, whereas people he did not hold in high esteem before attempted to rescue him and his family. His Polish neighbor, Antoni Kaczor, hid Berman in a tiny basement. When the photographer contracted a malicious disease that affected his brain, he began to scream loudly, putting the lives of his rescuer’s family at risk and forcing Antoni Kaczor to quickly make a decision … “Half the Town” takes the viewers on a journey through the tides of a turbulent European century and tells the moving story of a man whose beliefs were more advanced than the world he lived in …

Original title:
Die Hälfte der Stadt
88 minutes
Pawel Siczek


Shown at

  1. Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival - 2016

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