Nicky’s Family (2011, Czech Republic / Slovak Republic)

Poster for Nicky's FamilyIn Maimonides’ eight levels of charity giving to somebody without the recipient knowing the dnor and the without the donor knowing the recipient ranks very high. Without knowing this idea Sir Nicholas Winton, saved hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia during the Shoah. What impressed me the most  was not that he never claimed any reward or even recognition, but that ht didn’t talk about this huge accomplishment to anyone for 50 years afterwards. He just closed off these actions as something one does naturally, simply driven by the “help others” principles.

On one hand Nicky’s Family tells his story, with the help of lots of recollection of those children saved (now adults and often grandparents), with archival footage and pictures of the past, with footage from a trip these adults took on the same train they were saved 60+ years ago. There were also quite a few scenes of reenactments of Nicky’s actions. This was the only part of the movie I didn’t appreciate. The way they were done, made it even more explicit that the movie was directed to reach us on an emotional level too. It was designed to stir us up emotionally because through the reenactments we, the viewers could identify more with Nicky and the mothers who he helped by saving their children. This intention is perfectly understandable in a Shoah related documentary, but I prefer the “dryer” type, that is less personally attacking the viewer. I was a bit taken  aback by being sentimentally manipulated.

On the other hand the last third of the film talks about the effects of his “help others” principle. When Winston was finallybrought face to face with the people whom he saved and they asked “how we can  ever repay you for our lives” all he said, help others. S they and their kids and their grandchildren did. They come up with all sorts of ideas on how to help other less fortunate children of the world. Eventually a big gala was organized with all these helping kids and teens, which was yet another emotional high point of the movie. I was touched and inspired. And I also learned about another true hero, which si always worth my time.

Official site

Description from the distributor’s site:

Nicky’s Family tells the nearly forgotten story of Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II.

Winton, now 102 years old, did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His exploits would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn’t found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans.

Today the story of this rescue is known all over the world. He was knighted by the Queen Elisabeth II and the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 583 recognizing his remarkable deed.

Winton’s story is a very emotional one, and thousands of children in many countries have decided to follow in his footsteps and do something important. They think up various charity projects and even help in the saving of lives of undernourished and sick children in Cambodia and Africa.

120,000 children in the Czech Republic signed a petition to award Nicholas Winton the Nobel Prize for Peace. Dozens of Winton’s “children” have been found and to this day his family has grown to almost 6,000 people, many of whom have gone on to achieve great things themselves.

It is incredible that all these people live due to the heroic deeds of one man – Sir Nicholas Winton. Producers Matej Minac and Patrik Pass set out to ensure these fascinating, little-known stories and precious facts about the rescue mission are not lost to time. They wanted also to show the unique phenomenon that has emerged from Winton’s story, how his courageous acts many years ago continue to influence people from all over the world and motivate them to do good.

Their film demonstrates that members of Nicky’s Family are not only the thousands of people who owe their lives to Sir Nicholas Winton, but also all those who want to do something positive for our world.

Trailer:

As a member of the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.

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