Recently, I had the privilege of viewing two compelling documentaries featured at the Israel Film Festival in Montreal. One of them, “Mrs. G.,” directed by Dalit Kimor, delves into the remarkable life of Lea Gottlieb, a Hungarian survivor who, post-World War II, migrated to Israel and established the renowned family-operated business, the Gottex swimsuit empire.
The narrative resonated with me personally, mirroring the experiences of my parents—Hungarian Jews who, with limited resources and two young children, immigrated to Montreal. Against the odds, they built a flourishing leather coat factory, supplying high-quality products across Canada and the US for numerous years. This tale reflects the broader narrative of immigrant Jewish families leveraging their craftsmanship and business acumen to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the Shoah/Holocaust. Despite achieving financial success, the scars of the Shoah lingered, a sentiment echoed in Mrs. G.’s story, where her children lamented her lack of maternal instinct despite her prowess as a designer.
The second documentary, “Aulcie” by director Dani Menkin, chronicles the life of Aulcie Perry, an African American from New Jersey drafted to play for Maccabi, the Israeli national basketball league. Perry became a beloved hero in Israel, leading the team to international championship victories.
“Mrs. G.” and “Aulcie” depict individuals confronting formidable challenges, and I won’t divulge more to preserve the film’s impact. What captivated me about these documentaries was the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of real people in Israel, navigating significant challenges over the years.