Patrice Worthy is a contributor at the Atlanta Jewish Times.
Director Amichai Greenberg’s “The Testament” is based on events on the nights of March 24 and 25, 1945, when 200 laborers in Lendsdorf, Austria, were spontaneously slain by their neighbors. The story follows Yoel, a senior Holocaust researcher played by Ori Pfeffer, as he attempts to uncover the mass grave of those 200 Jews.
“The truth is not mine’ it is not yours. The truth is absolute,” he tells an Austrian reporter.
But he is up against the Austrian government, which proposes to build a road through the area that reportedly contains the mass grave. He and his team have yet to locate the grave and are pushing for a freeze on the proposed construction.
What begins as a search for the dead turns up an incredible deception that is too close for comfort and sets Yoel on a quest to find his true identity.
Everything is a puzzle, and Yoel runs into more and more walls. Many Holocaust survivors deceived their families, never telling them they were in Auschwitz or even in the Holocaust.
Looking for answers from the past when many deny the truth is nearly impossible. But Yoel finds that when you go looking for ghosts, you are guaranteed to find them, and those ghosts usually hold the keys to the past. That’s how the past works.
The film reveals that moving forward is impossible without reconciling the past. Yoel’s life is at a standstill until the truth is revealed to him; then, to move on, he must acknowledge to himself who he is and accept that some questions can be answered only when you risk it all.