One of their fathers survived Auschwitz, while the other was a German soldier. One was forever traumatized by the day-to-day nightmare of living in a concentration camp. In contrast, the other was permanently traumatized by the enormous guilt of having been a small player in the genocide of over six million Jews. Each of their children carries with them the burdens of their respective father. Instead of buckling under such tremendous weight, the daughters channel those burdens into an educational space, together.
The two daughters in question are Lisa Rosowsky and Ute Gfrerer. Point Symmetry is a short documentary that briefly covers their family histories and uses them to educate the public on a broader concept. What that larger concept is can be up for debate, but surely forgiveness and the emotional impact of generational snowballing are a part of it. I heard someone recently mention the importance of critical feeling—the undervalued counterpart of critical thinking—and a high degree of it is required for both Rosowksy and Gfrerer, as well as any who listens to their stories.
“Each of their children carries with them the burdens of their respective father.”
Given the short length of the documentary, directed by Anna Panova, you’re only able to get your big toe into this conversation made entirely of deep ends. It comes across like a cinematic headline, in which the story is only teased and never truly begins. Still, taken for what it is, Point Symmetry manages to capture your attention and hold it until choosing to let go. This is almost entirely due to the subject material, which doesn’t need much dressing to be engaging.
As far as what dressing there is, it’s not too impressive. The documentary feels a little bit thrown together, without any kind of shape. For a more subversive story—that might feed into the themes—and with one as sobering as this, it begs for structure. When you’re reading a serious article on a serious subject, you don’t want William Burroughs cutting up the sentences and pasting them in a different order.
Point Symmetry reminded me of a book I read some time ago. It was a true story about two fighter pilots during World War II, one of which was American and the other German. The German spared the American’s life in the middle of the battle, leaving a lasting impression on the American. In their old age, they happened to meet at an event for veterans and became friends for the rest of their lives. The ripples from that particular global conflict never seem to let up or fail to provide an opportunity to learn some great lessons. Rosowksy and Gferer carry on that tradition by being teachers and not sufferers.
"…you’re only able to get your big toe into this conversation made entirely of deep ends."