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At its peak in the early-mid 30s, Vienna's Hakoah Sports Club, with 3,000 active members, was the world's largest sports club. Among these members, a number of young women swimmers had risen to fame with their swimming prowess. They bought the club many medals - but none from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which they refused to attend in defiance of the Nazis. Two years later, the Nazis shut down the club and proclaimed its officials wanted men. The members, including the swimmers, dispersed around the world, escaping the Nazis with the help of the club's president and coach. Now, 65 years later, they are reunited back in Vienna, for one last swim - and to reclaim their history.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Surprisingly complex and moving, Yaron Silberman's vibrantly nostalgic documentary succeeds because it is about more than its surface subjects, young Jewish women who were champion swimmers in the 1930s whose lives were interrupted by the war. What makes this film different is the combination of unselfconscious filmmaking, with the director showing himself as the documentarian, the storyteller and the fan - all at once. But even more effective is the great sense of context which he builds.

We not only get to understand the socio-political setting from the individual perspectives of these young Jewish women, we also get to know something personally about them and their families.

The contemporary footage expands on the basic story with private discussions and slowly gathers the women together for their reunion swim, which forms a subtle yet emotive climax for the film. The human interest elements are bedded in the larger picture of a recently past but still resonating world, glimpsed through the special prism of young sportswomen.

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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(France/Israel/US, 2004)

CAST: Documentary featuring Judith Haspel, Trude Hirschler, Anni Lampl, Hanni Lux, Ann Marie Pisker, Nanne Selinger, Greta Stanton, Elisheva Susz (Hakoa Jewish Women Swim Team, Austria, 1930s)

NARRATION: Yaron Silberman

PRODUCER: Yonatan Israel, Yaron Zilberman

DIRECTOR: Yaron Silberman

SCRIPT: Ronen Dorfen, Yonatan Israel, Yaron Zilberman


EDITOR: Ruben Korenfeld, Yuval Sher

MUSIC: Not credited


RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 24, 2005 (Sydney & Melbourne only)

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