“Vienna’s Lost Daughters” rebelled last night. “We are not lost; we are not daughters of Vienna. We are Americans.” Vienna’s Lost Daughters are not shy. Seeing themselves on the big screen, did not prevent the women in this film, from seeing the flaws in a documentary about themselves. Mirjam Unger’s movie, Vienna’s Lost Daughters attempts to capture the experience of eight women, who were part of the Kindertransporte. “We were saved. I don’t know if I would have had the strength, to put my children on a train and know I would never see them again.” Susy Orne
Mirjam Unger, the film’s director and Nina Kusturica, the film’s producer are both Austrian and in their forties. Ms. Kusturica was at the screening of Vienna’s Lost Daughters shown at the Austrian Cultural Forum. Nina participated in the panel discussion. She took the flack, the women had no trouble handing out.
The weakness of the film is its lack of depth. The women are interviewed in their homes. They seem comfortable and chatty. They show the filmmaker photographs of their parents and siblings; they listen to Austrian songs; they bake cakes; even play tennis. The women are filmed visiting Vienna. It’s all pretty hunky-dory.
As soon as the microphone was passed to Dorit Bader Whiteman, she went on the attack. As she said, “I can’t help myself from making this comment. The movie leaves out what it was like coming to America. It wasn’t just baking cookies and cakes and singing. It was extremely difficult. This movie makes it seem like it wasn’t so bad. A viewer of this movie might think… They are all happy. It lessens the consequences.”
Agreeing with Dorit, another women said ” You made it too soft. It should be kept awake.” Unger has over 60 hours of film, maybe somewhere buried in all that footage, is the true story of the daughters of Vienna.
Vienna’s Lost Daughters
(2007) Directed By: Mirjam Unger
Documentray, Austria, 90 min, English/German
WITH Rosalie Berezow, Hennie Edelman, Susy Orne, Susanne Perl, Anita Nagel Weisbord, Dorit Bader Whiteman, Alice “Lizzy” Winkler, Eva Franzi Yachnes
This screening is part of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s series of events within the framework of Carnegie Hall’s Vienna: City of Dreams (carnegiehall.org/vienna)