France, 103 min
At 209 rue Saint-Maur in Paris, 52 Jewish people were deported out of the hundred who lived there. Ruth Zylberman starts from a 1936 census to find the children who lived there at the time and retrace their paths during the Occupation in this hyperlink film combining historic precision and visual inventiveness.
“They know how to last, the buildings of Paris, these are good buildings, the type (…) that last centuries, indifferent to wars, disappearances and collapses. But even if we have a ’stone house’, are we really sheltered?” wonders Ruth Zylberman, in the introduction of her film. Based on the last census taken before the war at 209 rue Saint-Maur, where, among others, a hundred or so Polish and Romanian Jewish residents of modest means lived, the director undertook a meticulous investigation through the archives to find some of these “children of number 209” who escaped the raids—52 Jewish people from this building were deported—and to gather the incredibly dense testimonies of Odette, Henri and the others. The virtuoso editing accompanies their anamnesis, the movement of memories that tell of the original trauma, the impossible mourning, but also the gestures of humanity by certain neighbours who, refusing the implacable madness of those dark years, preserved them from tragedy.