The Testament (2017) poster

The Testament (2017)

1h 01 min

Yoel, an international expert in Holocaust research, has spent over fifteen years diligently studying the Nazi's methods of annihilating Jews in Austria and Hungary. Yoel is in the midst of a high profile legal battle between the institute of Holocaust he works for, and entities in Austria that want to bury an unpleasant incident from their past - the brutal murder of 200 Jews during a debauched party in the fields of the small town of Lendsdorf. Yoel has difficulty finding undeniable evidence of the location of the mass grave, the people of Lendsdorf deny it ever happened, the last witnesses are dead, and most of the evidence was destroyed by the Nazis. Since a family of well-known, wealthy German industrialists on whose land the massacre took place is working on a major real estate project in the town, Yoel begins to suspect that the reason for it is to "bury" the scandal for good. Yoel, confident that he's right, insists on bringing the truth to light and proving that the project is a clear case of Holocaust denial. He sees revealing the horrific historical truth as his mission in life.Yoel is a religious man. To him, Judaism is an established fact which defines his identity. He's an intellectual, with an analytic mind who delves into the finest details of his research and refuses to let his emotions interfere with his study of the Holocaust. He insists that the fact that his mother and father are Holocaust survivors has no bearing on his professional conduct. In the course of his research he discovers, almost by chance, classified documents which hint to the fact that his mother is living under an assumed identity. Yoel is certain that this is a mistake, but the further he plunges into his research the more he doubts his mother's Jewish identity.As a religious man this information tears his world apart since according to Jewish law, if his mother is a gentile, so is he. Yoel goes straight to the rabbinic authority to find out what to do. The rabbi looks over the information and rules that it's a case of doubt. He instructs him not to tell anyone, to stop digging into his mother's past and to go back to his normal life.Yoel, who's conducting a double investigation - personal and scientific - is trapped between walls of silence. On one hand are the massive fields of Lendsdorf which conceal the bones of the murder victims and the villagers who are covering up the massacre, and on the other hand are his elderly mother's silence regarding her past.Since he's used to standing on solid factual ground, this situation tears a black hole in his identity. His uncertainty disconcerts him, but as a person utterly dedicated to the truth he decides to carry on his mission to reveal the truth. The pressure on Yoel increases as he fails to find the evidence needed for his legal battle. At the same time, his greatest fear becomes fact. Yoel is faced with the greatest crisis of his life which threatens to break his spirit. Stripped of his sense of identity, Yoel turns out to have the strength, intellectual and emotional, to fight on all fronts simultaneously. It's a struggle for survival at the end of which he rediscovers himself in the most real and intimate way. The discovery that changes both his spiritual and scientific approach is that the essential truth of his identity as a person comes not from external, objective laws and facts but from his personal choices and the values to which he devotes his life.