I’ll Be Frank – Memories of Opa

The JFF is upon us for 2023, and depending on where you are located in Australia, it will run sometime in the date range of 23 Oct to 29 Nov, so be sure to check dates for your local area. With many varieties of film genres available, let’s delve into Aaron Lucus’ short documentary film I’ll Be Frank which is a respectful nod to his grandfather, Frank.

The film opens with the information that former German citizens between 1933 and 1945 and their descendants who were deprived of their citizenship shall have their citizenship restored upon application. Thus begins an exploration into Aaron’s own family roots beginning in Berlin, Germany, where Frank was born.

Aaron brings out a large red book titled Some Memories of My Life by Frank Lucus, with the inscription, ‘lots of love from Opa and Oma’.

Frank wrote it with the meaning of leaving his family with some facts and memories of his life, and Aaron’s aim is to travel the path of his Opa. “I wanted to know how it felt to be in Berlin,” he says. Aaron opens his Opa’s book, and as he reads, the film seamlessly transitions into Frank’s voice, narrated by John Gadem.

The scenes in Berlin where his Opa lived were full of sunshine and portrayed how Aaron said he felt, a sense of beauty. In one shot, golden brown Autumn leaves fluttered to the ground. Stephen Korytko’s cinematography captured my attention throughout the short documentary film.

I’ll Be Frank is a unique documentary where the flashback memories of Frank and his family are represented by black and white animation, in stark contrast to the colour of the present.

This was an effective filmmaking strategy particularly in displaying some difficult and emotional scenes in the documentary. I’ll be Frank flits between Aaron telling the story and Frank in animation.

Aaron visits many places to learn more about his Opa’s life, such as the New Synagogue Berlin and the hospital where he once worked before the Nazis stripped him of the title of ‘doctor’ and called him a ‘Jewish handler of the sick’. He visited Soest in Germany and Sobibor in Lubelskie, Poland, a Nazi extermination camp where Aaron and the viewer learn about the atrocities committed there.

I’ll Be Frank is directed and edited by Aaron Lucus and won first prize at the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival for the Hearts, Minds, Souls. The original score is by Tarek Soltani, whose music created an emotive feel throughout the documentary.

I’ll Be Frank was successful in capturing my interest and would be suitable for teenage viewers and anyone wanting to hear a personal story of someone who has lived through and survived WW2. The story has heart, and Aaron has captured this in a respectful way.

Look for a film session in your town.

2023 JFF Festival Dates:

Classic Cinemas: 23 October – 29 November
Lido Cinemas: 24 October – 28 November

Ritz Cinemas: 24 October – 28 November
Roseville Cinemas: 2 November – 19 November

State Cinema: 2 November – 12 November

Luna Palace Cinemas: 16 November – 6 December

New Farm Cinemas: 16 November – 26 November

Dendy Cinemas: 15 November – 22 November

Dendy Cinemas Southport: 16 November – 22 November

This review also appears on It’s On The House.

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