Inside Hana’s Suitcase, A Delicate Look at the Holocaust

To add to the long list of Holocaust documentaries is one that is not dreary but delicate, “Inside Hana’s Suitcase” from Rhrombus Media. It is approachable for children because it is told by children – from Canada, the Czech Republic and Japan. They recount the story of Hana Brady, a Czech girl who perished at Auschwitz. Yet instead of her memory perishing, it is revived thanks to the inquisitive nature of the director of the Tokyo Holocaust Centre. Fumiko Ishioka requests artifacts from the Auschwitz museum and is sent a number of items, including a suitcase bearing the name of Hana Brady.

Determined, Fumiko searches for the suitcase’s owner and discovers that Hana Brady’s brother lived in Toronto. In this moment, three sets of people become connected to the life and memory of little Hana Brady.

The film is a hybrid documentary/drama that contains both archival and re-created elements. The re-creations are deft and appropriate for the story which becomes fully rounded out in the recountings of Hana’s brother George and most of all, the children.

This poignant journey is complemented by a clever interactive website designed with children’s inquisitiveness in mind.

I highly recommend both the film and the complementary website to introduce children between the years of around 7-12 to the sensitive story of the Holocaust.

For more, read Larry Weinstein’s article on the making of the film on the HistoryWire website here.

This film is currently screening in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Check your local listings.

Addendum: The TV program that I work for, CBC’s Doc Zone, aired a TV version of this film on June 23rd, 2011. For more, click here.

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