While doing research for his book The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod, author Avrom Bendavid-Val was determined to preserve the history of the place where his father was born. Once a thriving Jewish settlement, traces of Trochenbrod had all but disappeared seven decades after the Nazis massacred the population and left only a handful of survivors. As a companion to his book, Bendavid-Val’s also participated in the documentary Lost Town, which follows his journey of discovery. On Jan. 22nd, JFilm and the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program will present a special screening of the film at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
Directed by Jeremy Goldscheider and Richard Goldgewicht, Lost Town tells the story of one man’s obsessive search to get closer to his deceased father by uncovering the story of his family’s town of Trochenbrod. First made famous by Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Everything Is Illuminated, Trochenbrod was the only all-Jewish town to ever exist outside of Palestine. Trochenbrod’s 5,000 Jews were obliterated by the Nazis, except for 33 townspeople who escaped the massacre there. This personal search triggers a resurgence of interest in the town and reconnects the few remaining survivors who hadn’t seen each other in over 60 years. Lost Town utilizes contemporary documentary footage, original animation, and survivor testimonials to tell the story of how far some will go to claim their sense of identity.
Lost Town begins at 7 p.m. The event will also feature a dessert reception and post-screening Q&A with Bendavid-Val. Admission is $10, $5 for students (full-time, 26 and under). Tickets are available for purchase at Eventbrite.