29 Months in Exile
director's welcome

[The Mendels Family, 1942]The documentary film 29monthsinexile explores the experiences of escape, hiding and ultimate survival of my father's Jewish family in France at the time of the Holocaust (1939-45). My paternal grandparents, Frits and Ellen Mendels, fled Paris in 1942 with their two young daughters, Manuela and Jacqueline, and with the aid of an underground network of resisters, found refuge in the tiny village of Le Got in Dordogne, where they lived for 2 1/2 years. It was during their time in hiding that my father, Franklin, was born.

In 1993, shortly after my grandfather's death (and five years after my father's death), I was faced with the realization that my family's fascinating history was in danger of being forgotten as my relatives aged. I decided to prevent this loss by making a film about their experience during the Holocaust.

In the summer of 1994 after numerous interviews with my aunts (who now live in the United States) and time spent researching family documents, I made my first trip to Le Got, the village where my family was hidden. Along with my associate producer and cousin, Anne-Emanuelle Birn, and my Director of Photography, Tara Gibbens, I interviewed 19 people including inhabitants of Le Got, the doctor and nurse who delivered my father, and 2 members of a family in Paris who helped my grandparents to escape.

For 18 months in 1997-1998 I worked full-time on the project and completed production. I conducted further interviews with my aunts and other family members on DV, completed a 10-minute promotional video, and traveled to Amsterdam and Hamburg to conduct research in the municipal archives and to interview family and friends of my grandparents. In 1997 I traveled to Le Got and Paris with my two aunts and a crew to do a final shoot on DV, interview additional people, and to complete my research in the archives of Paris, Belves, Villefranche du Perigord, Monpazier, and Montayral. The project is currently on hold while we seek additional funding.

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29 Months in Exile Copyright © 1997-2005 Nathaniel Bornstein and Jessica Mendels.