The plight of Jews in Southern Europe in World War II has often been overlooked in favor of narratives from Western and Eastern Europe, but “Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria” offers insight into the history of Sephardic Jews in Greece.
Directed by Lawrence Russo and Larry Confino, the documentary shares the lives of the Russo, Confino and other families who lived in Kastoria. However, it never divulges the apparent relationship between the directors and their subjects, and the film doesn’t feel deeply connected to their experiences.
“Trezoros” (“Treasures” in Ladino or Judeo Spanish) is a Ken Burns-style documentary, with talking heads and camera movement across black-and-white photos. It begins in the years before the war, exploring the close-knit community in Kastoria and the friendly relationship between the Jews and their Christian neighbors. The film establishes their culture before it reveals their plight after the Italian invasion in 1940, followed by the German occupation and the horrors that claimed the lives of most of the people.
As impactful as its rarely told story might be, “Trezoros” would have been better served by a shorter running time or a more focused approach to its central story. Archival and family photos appear multiple times throughout the narrative, and its sometimes-meandering approach demonstrates a lack of direction and leaves a tragic story feeling bland.
Observation: "Where a Jewish and Christian Community lived, broken bread and celebrated holidays together. . . ."