GANEF - Film Review
Updated: Oct 22
Writer/Director Mark Rosenblatt
Stars: Lydia Wilson, Sophie McShera, Danny Scheiman & introducing Izabella Dzeiwanka
A short film inspired by stories from the aftermath of the writer and director's own family’s Holocaust survival. GANEF tells the story of a little girl, spooked by a dark tale from her mother’s wartime past, who starts to believe her adored cleaner is a thief.
From the moment the film starts and fades into the opening scene of little Ruthie playing the viewer is transported into the world of innocence and joy. It quickly establishes the bonds the child has with the house cleaner Lynn (Sophie McShera), and her own mother Mrs Hirst (Lydia Wilson). The former's willingness to break from her duties to play with little Ruthie establishes a much closer bond than with her mother, one which soon crumbles.
Mark Rosenblatt's tightly crafted script shows just how the trauma of the past can impact our current behaviour - the reason behind Mrs Hirst's insistence on hiding her purchases from Lynn segues into the story that effectively illustrates this - but also how they can be projected onto others. Rosenblatt uses this story to great effect by shifting the narrative to Ruthie's viewpoint, and how, fuelled by her mother's story, the child's imagination escalates the growing suspicion of her beloved housekeeper.
The story's power lies in the tragic downfall that follows, of a treasured relationship carried by compelling performances, especially young Isabella Dzeiwanka as Ruthie. Rosenblatt's extensive stage experience gives a theatrical quality with a the feel of a big screen drama courtesy of cinematographer Alana Mejia Gonzalez.
'Ganef' is a story for the stage played out in a cinematic format packed with powerful performances telling a tragic tale of innocence lost and familial bonds broken. Mark Rosenblatt's script and skilful direction keep viewer attention held and draws it into Ruthie's imagination, a journey from childlike joy to earth shattering fears of broken trust. Performances from all concerned are engaging but full credit should go to Izabella Dzeiwanka who makes a powerful debut at such a young age and if her introduction is anything to go by could see a prosperous acting career.