'The Flat'

| November 1, 2012 - 12:29 PM

The search for the truth in the remarkable documentary "The Flat" begins in modern-day Israel. After the death of Grandma Gerda at age 98, her family begins cleaning out the apartment that's like a slice of prewar Berlin life. Among the gloves, shoes and books, it's a newspaper clipping about a Nazi in Palestine that most intrigues the family, and especially her grandson, Arnon Goldfinger, also the film's director.

Turns out his German grandparents, who escaped the Holocaust by emigrating to Palestine, were close friends with a high official in the S.S. and his wife before -- and, more surprisingly, after -- World War II. Goldfinger looks for clues about how this relationship happened, interviewing his mother, family friends, experts and the charming daughter of Leopold von Mildenstein , the Nazi in question. There are startling revelations, family bonding, guilt and lots of people in denial.

The movie feels more like a thriller and a mystery than a documentary. Perhaps someday, someone will dramatize this astonishing story. (Unrated.) LEBA HERTZ, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

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