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‘Misha and the Wolves’ is a stranger-than-fiction documentary about a woman’s Holocaust story

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‘Misha and the Wolves’ is a stranger-than-fiction documentary about a woman’s Holocaust story

, USA TODAY
Published 7: 25 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2021 | Updated 7: 29 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2021

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Fetch ready for your subsequent documentary obsession

The riveting “Misha and the Wolves,” which premiered Sunday at Sundance Film Festival, tells the unbelievable story of writer Misha Defonseca, a Belgian woman living in Massachusetts with a jaw-dropping tale of how she survived the Holocaust. 

In the mid-1990s, Defonseca recommended her pals about increasing up as a young Jewish woman all thru World War II and being sent to stay with a Catholic family after her parents have been arrested by the Nazis. The family was merciless and she ran away, walking nearly 2,000 miles to Germany in search of her parents. All alone with legal a compass and a knife, she says she befriended a pack of wolves in the woodland, who “accepted and safe” her on the journey. 

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Astonished by her account, small publisher Jane Daniel saw potential for a hit book, and in 1997 published “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years,” which Defonseca authored with a ghostwriter. The memoir was a modest success, which Daniel hoped to raise with a booked appearance on “Oprah.” However Defonseca with out notice canceled the night time earlier than the interview, and proceeded to sue her publisher for unpaid royalties. Daniel was financially ruined; meanwhile, the book became a sensation in Europe with a various publisher. 

To say noteworthy extra about “Misha” would spoil its many twists and turns, and resulting legal actions. The relaxation of the documentary plays savor an espionage thriller, as Daniel enlists historians and genealogists to assist advise Defonseca’s past and search for if she was scammed. 

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“Misha” director Sam Hobkinson initially read about Defonseca’s court case in a newspaper article in 2014. 

“I went back and researched the story, and couldn’t mediate it was lawful,” Hobkinson said in a put up-screening Q&A. “It started with me finding what I believed would be a great story about storytelling. I wasn’t in the market to make a Holocaust documentary, however I realized that we ended up making a roughly Holocaust documentary, albeit rather a various one.” 

The project proved sophisticated to finance, largely because it casts doubt on any person who says they survived the Holocaust. Six million Jews have been killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators in the early 1940s, but Holocaust denial runs rampant in online forums such as Facebook. Anti-Semitic attacks hit an all-time high in the U.S. in 2019, and a latest search for discovered a “radiant” lack of Holocaust data among millennials and Gen Z. 

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“Individuals have been tremulous because they didn’t want to be anxious with one thing that would fan the flames of Holocaust denial,” Hobkinson said. “For certain, that was most important in our minds from the outset. We have always felt this is sophisticated territory, however you mustn’t shy away from it. You may have acquired to tackle the sophisticated subjects head-on. And I’m hoping that we battle the story back from the Holocaust denial camp.” 

Part of the way “Misha” accomplishes that is by hanging Evelyne Haendel, a Holocaust survivor in Belgium, entrance and center. Haendel becomes a crucial character in the documentary’s 2d half, when she’s employed to investigate Defonseca and her family. She ultimately will get the last be aware, speaking frankly about Defonseca and her motivations at the film’s finish. 

Balancing the documentary’s sensational thriller with actual survivor tales was “paramount, because we didn’t want to feel we have been playing into the hands of Holocaust deniers,” Hobkinson said.  “And the extra we acquired to know Evelyne, the extra we realized she was our star, really. She’s the manufacture of central, moral moral. She was so factual and so initiate and so thoughtful in our interview that she became a noteworthy bigger part of the film.”

“Misha and the Wolves” will have a 2d virtual screening Tuesday (10 a.m. ET) at Sundance. 

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‘Misha and the Wolves’ is a stranger-than-fiction documentary about a woman’s Holocaust story