It's typical in these circumstances to say, "I don't know what came over me." But I do know what came over me: I was going to interview Felix Moeller about his new documentary, Harlan - In the Shadow of Jew Suss -- the film about German director Veit Harlan, his infamous, anti-Semitic 1940 creation Jew Suss, and the repercussions said film and the man himself had on his descendents -- when I was informed that one of the film's subjects, journalist, critic, and Harlan niece Jessica Jacoby, would also be available. I agreed to interview them both, but then ran into a brick wall in my planning: I wished to have a candid discussion with Moeller about how he confronted so difficult a subject, and the presence of Jacoby -- a woman who, I figured, had undergone every form of questioning on the subject from polite discussion to accusatory interrogation -- threw me a curve. I was left not sure how I could ask the questions I wanted about Harlan's work, how Moeller got the family to open up about the impact of that legacy, and the restrictions Germany has placed on the public exhibition of the film, without making the woman feel that she had travelled down this road far too many times.
I never came up with a solution for my dilemma -- in hindsight, the best approach probably would have been just to ask the frakkin' questions and let the chips fall where they might -- and it shows in my awkward approach to the interview. Nevertheless, Jacoby and Moeller were quite forthcoming in discussing how they tackled the story of one of the darkest chapters of film history, and provided good insight into the creation of a compelling, revelatory, and surprisingly beautiful documentary. Click on the player to hear the interview.