Transatlántico, a film series exploring Latin Jewish life at the Skirball


The Skirball Cultural Center presents Transatlántico, a film series exploring Latin Jewish life. The series features three films that focus on life in Argentina, including “My German Friend “(El Amigo Alemán, 2013), a wartime love story; “The German Doctor” (Wakolda, 2014), a dark mystery set in Patagonia in the 1960s; and the short film “Raquel: A Marked Woman” (2013), about a woman who fights back against the trappings of prostitution. A talk and Q&A with director Gabriela Böhm follows the screening of Raquel: A Marked Woman.
Transatlántico is presented as part of the Skirball’s ongoing Viva! initiative, exploring the connections between Jewish and Latin American cultures through lectures, conversations, and performing, visual, and media arts.
“This series looks at the best of recent cinema that touches on Jewish life in Argentina,” says Jordan Peimer, Skirball Vice President and Director of Programs. “It’s a little-known fact that Argentina has one of the largest populations of Jews in the ‘New World.’ Like the United States, Argentina was a destination for immigrants seeking to recreate themselves—for better or for worse.” 

Tuesday, January 14, 8:00 p.m. premiere!
In the city of Buenos Aires, Sulamit, the daughter of Jewish emigrants from
Germany, meets her young German neighbor, Friedrich. When Friedrich realizes his father’s SS affiliation and disappears without a trace, Sulamit’s search for him takes her through the darkest days of Argentina’s dirty war. Written and directed by Jeanine Meerapfel.

CRITICS NOTE: In and interview with Julio Nakamurakare of the Buenos Aires Herald Meerapfel said of the semi-autobiographical film, “Our parents did not speak much about those painful days, like they were trying to leave those horrendous memories behind. So it came as a shock to the generation who grew up in the 1950s when they learnt about the Holocaust and, more impressively, that both Jews and Germans had fled to the same country, Argentina, sometime happened to live in the same neighborhood, as though the German ancestry they had in common was stronger than historical facts.” “The epic side of the story is very well known, but what remains little explored is the issue of how these two sides-one fleeing Nazism, the other fleeing justice-carried on with their lives in the same space, with daily reminders of the recent past.”

(Argentina and Germany, 2013, 93 min. Rated PG-13. In Spanish, German, and Hebrew with English subtitles.) $8 General; $5 Full-time students; FREE to Skirball and JGSLA Members

THE GERMAN DOCTOR (WAKOLDA) Tuesday, February 4, 8:00 p.m.

A German physician stays with an Argentinean family and becomes fascinated with their sickly twelve-year-old daughter. The family is won over by this charismatic and knowledgeable man, until they discover their guest’s nefarious past. Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo. (Argentina and Germany, 2014, 100 min. No MPAA rating. In German and Spanish with English subtitles.)  FREE

CRITIC NOTE: Filmmaker Lucia Puenzo’s adaptation of her novel, set in the exquisite mountains of Patagonia, uses rumors and facts about infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s ongoing secret experiments on pregnant women in Patagonia’s remote Bariloche region, where local German expats protected the elite scientist, who portrayed himself as a simple veterinarian. A study of intimate evil, and postwar complicity, there’s a Nabokovian flavor to the slowly building psychological thriller.

Puenzo is known for her intersex drama “XXY” as well as her moody erotic thriller “The Fish Child”.

Friendly German doctor Helmut Gregor (Spanish actor Alex Brendemuhl), arrives at a windy Argentine beach. Glimpsing Aryan looking Lilith (the marvelous newcomer Florencia Bado), he dubs her (Bado) “a perfect specimen” and draws her in his sketch book. On the verge of puberty, 12-year-old Lilith is enchanted with his interest in her. After all, the undersized girl has to fight for her overworked parent’s attention.

Doctor Gregor asks for directions and follows her family’s caravan to Bariloche, and eschewing his official residence, decides to become the first guest of her parent’s re-opened Guest House on the Nahuei Huapi lake. Eva (Natalia Oreiro) and Enzo (Diego Perretti) welcome the business. Bariloche, a picture perfect enclave of Swiss style chalets, is full of German-speaking Argentines.

Lilith and her siblings attend the German-speaking school where their mother Eva was raised. School pictures reveal students saluting a Nazi flag. Mysterious hydroplanes come and go on the lake near Gregor’s new lab.

Lilith’s drawn in by his gentle seduction, especially when he offers to cure her stunted growth with experimental shots to “make her bone’s grow,” Tired of her schoolmates cruel remarks, Lilith begs her mother Eva to agree.

Eva, pregnant with twins (Mengeles’ ongoing fascination), is thrilled that her daughter may achieve her full height and willingly complies with all the doctors requests, including his untoward interest in her pregnancy. Virtually displaced in his home, father Enzo begins to suspect him, especially when he offers to underwrite Enzo’s doll factory. New arrival, photographer Nora Eldoc (Elena Roger) increases the story’s tension.

DP Nicolás Puenzo and art director Marcelo Chaves highlight the picture book perfection of the Andean pseudo-Alpine village, a setting for a slow moving tale about the intimate seductive force of evil.   

Known as “Little Switzerland” Bariloche made international headlines in 1995 when it was outed as a haven for Nazi war criminals. SS Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke had been the director of the German School of Bariloche for many years. Authors such as Abel Basti and Simon Dunstan & Gerrard Williams contend that Hitler and Eva Braun hid at an estate in Bariloche, until the early 1960s.

RAQUEL: A MARKED WOMAN  Thursday, February 20, 8:00 p.m.
During the early twentieth century, thousands of Eastern European Jewish women were lured to Argentina with promises of marriage and opportunity, only to meet a sadder fate: a life of prostitution and degradation. Raquel: A Marked Woman tells the extraordinary story of a woman who dared to fight back. Join director Gabriela Böhm   for a Q&A and talk after the screening. Presented in association with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles. (USA and Argentina, 2013, 34 min. No MPAA rating. In English.)  $8 General; $5 Full-time students; FREE to Skirball and JGSLA Members

The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049 (exit Skirball Ctr. Dr. off the 405). Parking is free.
 The Skirball is also accessible by Metro Rapid Bus 761.

Museum hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12:00–5:00 p.m.;
Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Museum admission: $10 General; $7 Seniors, Full-time students,
and children over 12; $5 Children 2–12.
All exhibitions are free to Skirball Members and children under 2.
Exhibitions are free to the public on Thursdays.

The Skirball is also home to Zeidler’s Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting and Audrey’s Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music and more. For general information, please call (310) 440-4500 or visit
The Skirball Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah’s Ark story; and through outreach to the community.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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