13 Driver’s Licenses (a two-part documentary)

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13 Driver’s Licenses (a two-part documentary)
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Project Description

A two-part documentary

“13 Driver’s Licenses” (Documentary, 27 min., 2022, USA/Germany)

The discovery of 13 confiscated driver’s licenses from 1938 leads a small German town to face its regrettable past. With no other clue but those licenses, a group of high-school students with their tenacious teacher research the fates of 13 Jewish driver’s license holders. A year later, an unexpected turn takes place. The modern-day Germans and some of the Jewish descendants from overseas gather in “their hometown,” and a fortuitous friendship begins.

“Facing History” (working title, feature documentary in progress)

“Beyond 13 Driver’s Licenses” explores Jewish life in a small town in Germany. Taking viewers from the past to the present, it addresses the question how the events during the Nazi era remain relevant today. Following a time lapse overview of the changeable living conditions from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the film explores the brief period of equality around the beginning of the 20th century and probes into the escalating persecution and violence during the Nazi era. We trace the last weeks of the Jewish citizens who were deported to their deaths in extermination camps in Poland, show how those who escaped fared in their new home, and analyze what happened to the Nazi perpetrators in this town. The meeting of third-generation descendants of former Jewish residents and current non-Jewish residents of the town addresses questions of guilt, remembrance, and reconciliation. By depicting a microcosm of the past and present, the film provides an anatomy of the rise of fascism, a tool for recognizing problematic patterns in modern contexts, and a glimpse of hope that, after much time and effort, relationships may be rebuilt and friendships formed.

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This project was created by: Ryoya Terao

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