This powerful drama has been caught up in a massive controversy in Europe and the US, centred on the B by Misha Defonseca upon which it is based.
The film, superbly directed by veteran French-Jewish filmmaker Véra Belmont, tells the fictional story of Misha, an eight-year-old Jewish girl in Brussels, whose parents, fearing deportation, pay a Belgian Catholic family to hide her in their home before they depart for an unknown future.
When Misha’s adoptive family treats her cruelly, she runs away to “the East” in search of her parents – a harrowing journey that will take her across Belgium, Germany and Poland to the Ukraine.
First published in 1997, and since translated into 18 languages, the book, a purported “autobiographical memoir”, has now been shown to be anything but.
Véra Belmont’s film, however, is something else. Belmont was a hidden child during the war when her parents, Communist Jews of Russian and Polish descent, joined the underground.
Her film takes us on a journey through back-lots of the Holocaust that are rarely seen on the screen, and captures Belgium’s mixed and disturbing record of altruism and betrayal during these dark years.