Whereabouts Unknown (Lost Relatives)

A Television Drama
By Nava Semel
Director: Yali Bergman
Producer: Amir Harel - Lama Productions
Israeli Public Television - IBA - Channel 1

Short Synopsis

Israel 1949. The young state, still licking its wounds following the War of Independence, faces an enormous task: absorbing over one million new immigrants in a very short time, most of them Holocaust survivors who had lost everything.

The drama takes place during the Jewish High Holidays. Anutza Boim and her son Nisan survived the ghetto of Transnistria in Romania-Ukraine. The 60 years old woman struggles with their current hardship the only way she knows - as if the Holocaust is not over. Unemployed Nisan must humiliate himself so he can get a poor job paving roads. The unexpected pregnancy of his wife Gitta, who had spent the war in hiding disguised as a Christian, shatters his dream to become a professional Jazz musician in Israel. His own precious trumpet was sold in the ghetto for a piece of bread. 

The family's fate is entwined through a business deal with their neighbors Rebecca the seamstress and her daughter Sarika, two Auschwitz survivors from the Greek Island of Rhodes. The deal focuses on a single radio set. Anutza provides livelihood to her neighbors by bringing them torn garments for mending, on one condition only: the right to listen to the daily broadcast of a relative-seeking program called "Whereabouts Unknown".

Every day at noon, they all gather around the radio, listening to messages of people who try to locate their lost loved ones.

Anutza is desperately seeking her husband Yankel who immigrated thirty years ago to America and vanished without a trace. Despite the fact that he deserted the family, she is still madly in-love with her handsome absent husband. For her, Israel is just a temporary place, and she hopes that her long-lost spouse will provide them with a visa to the "Goldene Medina".

Nisan, on the other hand, is too wounded to forgive his father. Unlike his mother, he is an ardent Zionist, refusing to speak Yiddish anymore. His only comfort, besides his sexy wife, is the midnight Jazz program, and he yearns to listen to Dizzy Gillespie's live concert on Voice of America.

While Anutza is getting involved in illegal black market deals, Nisan is busy looking for a second-hand trumpet, so he could join the new orchestra just established in Haifa. 

On the eve of Yom Kippur (The Jewish Day of Atonement) Yankel - now Jack Baum - sends a dramatic message on the radio. Nisan, who is finally convinced by his mother to go to Haifa Port to pick up his estranged father, meets on the wharf a lonely blind man.

"Tatte", he says to him in Yiddish and brings him home.

The final scene of the drama takes place under the Sukkah. Music is what finally unites both father and son. While Anutza clings to the arm of her newly found old love, Nisan plays on his new trumpet an Israeli version of Jazz and Yankel-Jack joins him in singing the famous Yiddish song "Dona Dona".

The leading roles will be played by:
Yona Elian-Keshet (Anutza)
Yehezkel Lazarov (Nisan)
Hila Feldman (Gitta)
Levanah Finkelstein (Rebecca)
Rotem Sussman (Sarika) 

The drama was shot in December 2009-January 2010. Broadcast on Israeli TV, First Channel, Fall 2010. 

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