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By Phil Hall | May 9, 2009

Paolo Polini’s non-fiction feature is promoted as focusing on the remnants of the Jewish community in the Greek city of Salonica (also known as Thessaloniki). The city’s Jewish population traces its heritage from Spain, and many of those interviewed in the film continue to speak in Spanish rather than Greek.

However, Polini never allows a coherent history of the Jewish population to be told. A multitude of people are introduced, but they are mostly glimpsed in fleeting acts of mundane behavior (riding a bus, buying a computer, watering plants, etc.) A few elderly people who survived the Holocaust speak briefly about the terror they experienced during wartime, but the film never provides any serious time to tell their stories. Some young people – including two teenage boys and an overly enthused American scholar returning to his roots – turn up, but they offer no insight on what it means to be Jewish in today’s Greece.

Much of the film is wasted by travelogue sequences of Salonica’s streets and rooftops – it often feels as if this film would be more appropriate for the Travel Channel rather than the History Channel. There’s also an utterly irrelevant visit to a Greek Orthodox church, where a priest carefully bends history to justify the Greek government’s antagonism against the Republic of Macedonia.

The resulting production is confusing, disorganized, and boring.

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