Short film by Madeleine Bazil coming to OTV March 1, 2023
In 1939, a young Jewish man named Ernest Lowy makes a bold and narrow escape from his native Czechoslovakia, seeking safety and opportunity for his family as World War II intensifies. In the late 1980s, an elderly Ernest recounts his life story over the course of a 75-minute cassette tape at home in New York City. It’s the first and only time his children and grandchildren hear him speak of the Holocaust, or of his life before immigrating to the US. Another three decades later, filmmaker Madeleine Bazil decides to finally do something with the audio memoir of the late great-grandfather she never knew.
We follow Bazil over three years as she charts a journey to retrace Ernest’s steps across two continents: investigating the man himself, as well as how Ernest’s life story and the trauma he underwent had a ripple effect on present-day family dynamics. Collaging together a multiplicity of testimonies, archival artefacts, and perspectives, the documentary exemplifies the fragmented nonlinearity of memory as well as reflects the complexities and layers of our own individual identities. A 29’ poetic and self-reflexive documentary, Grandpa Ernest Speaks considers the nature of posttraumatic memory; how it is transmitted, archived and witnessed; and how each generation and descendant carries and considers memory in their own way.