This land is not your land, this land is not my land
Documentary makes a case for the claims of First Nations by way of Nazi Germany
MONTREAL— The film’s title may have set a record for the longest ever concocted, not to mention the most original and most whimsical: CowJews and Indians: How Hitler Scared My Family — and I Woke Up in an Iroquois Longhouse with a Picture of Jesus, Reminding Me — for the Wrong Reason — That I Owe the Mohawks Rent.
But as titles go, it is quite accurate in summing up this highly unusual and provocative documentary, which plays the Festival du nouveau cinéma Thursday and Monday.
It is also a highly personal film for its writer/director Marc Halberstadt. The term, CowJew, is what his grandfather was called in his native Germany. Simply put: a Jew who toiled in the cattle trade. As for the rest of the doc’s title, it is a reference to the plight of Native Americans with a dollop of Christianity tossed in for good measure. And as hard as it may be to fathom — one really has to connect the dots — this film is intended to induce conversation about First Nations land claims.
The documentary begins with Halberstadt getting the heave-ho from a women’s clothing boutique in a small German town. It turns out that his family was dispossessed of their home — now said boutique — by the Nazis at the onset of the Second World War. His family fled to the U.S. and was eventually awarded a reparation fee of $2,000 for the loss of the home.