Vancouver International Film Festival
On Saturday October 6th, Scott Wood, host of the interview show, attended the Vancouver International Film Festival’s screening of The Champagne Spy.
The Champagne Spy
Germany/Israel, 2007, 91 min
Directed By Nadav Schirman
The plot from this documentary sounds like it leapt from a 1960s spy novel. An Aryan-looking Jew becomes a Mossad agent charged with posing as an ex-Nazi to spy on a group of German scientists. These scientists, unemployed after the fall of the Nazi regime, were snapped up by the Muslim Egyptian government to build bombs—threatening the Israeli government. Our spy was set up as a millionaire horse breeder, Wolfgang Lotz, whose job was to hobnob with these scientists while reporting back to his handlers.
Certainly a thrilling story—and the story has so many twists and turns that the director of the feature is developing the story as a Bourne-type spy thiller—but the focus in this documentary is the ramifications that this lifestyle had on the spy’s family. This man had a wife and son who waited dutifully in Paris for the day when this husband and father would return home for longer than a month or two at a time. Sadly this was not to occur.
The film relies effectively on the recollections of the son. One particularly powerful moment is when the teenage son reads in the paper that his father and his wife have been arrested. First, the teenager must deal with the fact that his father, a Jew has been arrested in a Muslim country—meaning a guaranteed death sentence—then, two, he discovers that his father has another wife. And then he has to go home and tell his mother about all of this.
The film would be more complete portrait if it included interviews with the other principle players in the drama, but sadly the spy, his Jewish wife and his Aryan wife were all dead by the time the documentary was shot. Instead, the film uses slow motion family movies to demonstrate the spy’s growing emotional distance from his family and the aloof recollections of the spy’s Mossad handlers. But it only left me wanting more of the story.
For more information, check out www.viff.org.
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