In this emotionally moving and revelatory documentary, Esther Hoffenberg investigates the early life of her mother, Eva (née Lamprecht), interviewing her friends, relatives and acquaintances, and scrutinizing her mother's tape-recorded reminiscences, family photos, home movies, letters and other documents, to reveal how emotional traumas rooted in Eva's experiences during WWII eventually tragically affected not only her, but also her entire family.
Born in Poland to parents of Germany nationality, Eva was a young woman during the German invasion and occupation of Poland. As a member of a wealthy Lutheran family, whose industrialist father collaborated with the Nazis to keep his paper mill operating, Eva lived a protected life, although she was aware of the deportation of Poland's Jews, including one of her closest friends, to Nazi concentration camps.
When the Soviet Army arrived in 1945, Eva left for Germany where she met Stas Hoffenberg, a Warsaw ghetto survivor. Together they left for Paris, where they married and began a new life. Eva converted to Judaism and, having learned more about the horrors of the Holocaust from her husband, passionately devoted herself to Jewish issues.
Her lifelong effort to reconcile the emotional conflicts of her two lives-fueled by a sense of shame about her Germany identity and feelings of cowardice about her inaction during the war, an inner turmoil she always kept hidden from her children-manifested itself during the Seventies in a series of mental breakdowns and hospitalizations.
As a compelling biographical story of a woman whose formative years were lived during the rise of Nazism, WWII and the Holocaust, THE TWO LIVES OF EVA gradually becomes a revealing account of how her personal tragedy was inextricably linked to the historical violence of the era.
"Intriguing... evocative... Beautifully documents the twists and turns of a life shaped by the upheaval of mid-twentieth-century Europe." —Catherine Epstein, Slavic Review
Patrimony Prize, 2005 Cinéma du Réel Festival
Prix des Escales Documentaires, 2005 La Rochelle Film Festival
2006 New York Jewish Film Festival
2005 Jerusalem Film Festival
2006 Buenos Aires International Film Festival
"Dreamlike... Compelling! A promising debut." —The Jewish Week
"Shattering! Engrossing! A complex testament to a woman of extraordinary strength and fragility, and a life wrecked and rebuilt by the tides of history." —The Village Voice
"Both touching and interesting... recommended to libraries whose patrons are interested in stories that have to do with the Holocaust or enjoy delving into psychology." —Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
"A unique example of how religious, racial, and ethnic diversity in wartime Europe shaped one woman's life, but also serves as a valuable portrayal of how the postwar generation has grappled with relating to their parents' past experiences. ...A rightful recipient of numerous awards." —Rachel Boaz, H-Net Reviews, March, 2011