Directed by Marina Willer, “Red Trees” is a different take on the Holocaust. Her film traces the lives of her family members, who managed to survive and find a fresh start in new surroundings.
The documentary emerges as a personal exploration of her background, as well as a recounting of what happened to the Willers, one of only 12 Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II.
The title derives from the color-blindness of the director’s father, Alfred Willer, who as a youngster liked to draw but found himself drawing red leaves on trees. (One might also think of a double meaning in this case—the Willer family tree.)
The voice of Alfred is supplied by Tim Piggot-Smith (who has since died), and the film follows the post-war fortunes of the Willers after they emigrate to Brazil, where Alfred pursues a career as an architect and raises his family.
The film is rich in detail through interviews, clips, and observances. Director Willer is skillful and incorporating her material, and as a screenwriter, she was assisted by Brian Eley and Leena Telén. What makes the documentary especially interesting is the unusual take about survival, even though the film acknowledges the tragedy of those who were not so fortunate. A Cohen Media Group release. Reviewed September 15, 2017.