Ganef

By Mark Rosenblatt | Drama
A little girl thinks she sees a family cleaner steal a precious ornament. Then it escalates.

In London in 1962, a little girl named Ruthie enjoys a fun, playful relationship with her family’s cleaner, Lynn. But her mother, Mrs. Hirth, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, is more suspicious, taking care to hide the nice things she buys from the cleaner. When pressed by Ruthie to explain this mistrust, Mrs. Hirth tells her a story of hiding from soldiers in the war, where a “ganef” — the Yiddish word for thief — stole their things.

Ruthie’s imagination goes into overdrive, and soon she imagines that her beloved Lynn is a thief stealing from the home. When Ruthie thinks Lynn is stealing, she tells her mother — and as events unfold from this accusation, it changes the loving friendship between Ruthie and Lynn forever.

Written and directed by Mark Rosenblatt, this Oscar-qualified short historical drama is both an elegantly rendered, compelling portrait of ruptured childhood innocence and an incisive exploration of the subtle ways that intergenerational trauma is passed on from one generation to the next.

Shot with the faded colors and soft lighting of memory past, the film’s storytelling ably explores the perspectives of three interlocking characters, from Ruthie’s imagination to how her mother remains haunted by her war experiences. Woven together in the balanced, perceptive writing, it makes “Ganef” an unusually rich short film. Its power comes from its insights into how the unresolved stories and emotions are absorbed by the next generation, shaping their interpretation of people and events. These in turn are carried into the world, via the relationships and interactions they make for themselves — and sadly cutting themselves off from the spectrum of experience, even before they are old enough to realize what they have lost.




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