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Under the Domim Tree
(Etz Hadomim Tafus)
Israel - 1994
Directed by Eli Cohen


 

A touching film about an Israeli kibbutz filled with orphaned children who have survived the holocaust.  Set in 1953, most of the orphans have given up hope of re-uniting with any other surviving family.  The relationships that they form among themselves and with the adult members of their community is the focus of the story. The children find solace among those who have shared the same experiences; some of the children had survived concentration camps, some had been hidden during the holocaust and others had actually hid in the forest for years. 

Based on the autobiographical book The Summer of Aviya by Israeli actress Gila Almagor, this film is a continuation of the story told in the film The Summer of Aviya (1988).  Her experiences are recounted along with those she shared them with.  We are given a special opportunity to try to understand the surviving orphans of the holocaust by  learning about them as individuals. 

We appreciated the fact that there was no attempt to gloss over the fact that these young lives were shattered.  The fact that they found strength in each other is understandable, but the deep bonds they form in the kibbutz were not an adequate replacement for the lost loved ones.  Each child must still bear their own painful burden.  Eli Cohen won the Artistic Excellence Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (1996) for directing Under the Domim Tree.  The film also received a Special Selection from Cannes (1995), The Volgin Award for Best Film from the Jerusalem International Film Festival (1995) and the Most Popular Feature Film Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (1995).

Hebrew with English subtitles.  Runtime:  102 Minutes

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