LOS ANGELES – The documentary film Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria Greece premiered in Los Angeles, CA on Nov. 29. The film screened at the Laemmle Music Hall Theater in LA for one week, five times daily, starting on Nov. 25 through Dec. 1, with the official premiere event on Nov. 29. The title is from the Ladino/Judeo Spanish term of endearment meaning “treasures.” Trezoros chronicles the untold history and destruction of one of the formerly thriving Sephardic communities in Greece. Screening premieres in London, Cannes, Melbourne, Sydney, and New York have received positive reviews. Directed by Lawrence Russo, and co-directed and produced by Larry Confino, the film has recently qualified for consideration as an Academy Award nominee. Trezoros is told through personal accounts by the Holocaust survivors and the Greek Orthodox people of Kastoria who lived a once peaceful life and then became eyewitnesses to the horror and ultimate devastation of war. Using never-before-seen archival footage, the film transports the audience to the picturesque town of Kastoria, where Jews and Christians lived in harmony and friendship for over two thousand years. In October 1940, this changed forever with the invasion of Greece by Axis forces. Initially occupied by the Italians, Kastoria and its Jewish community remained, but after Mussolini fell from power, the Nazis took control, eventually gathering the Jewish residents in a single day, and sending them to concentration camps. The mostly Sephardic Jewish community of Kastoria numbered about 900 in 1940 with the Romaniote Jews having settled there over 2,000 years earlier. By the end of World War II, only 35 had survived. Trezoros brings to life just one of many Jewish communities that had existed in Greece before the end of World War II. The film is a story told by its survivors, with interviews filmed on location in Kastoria, Thessaloniki, Athens, Tzur Moshe, Tel Aviv, Miami, and New York. The world premiere of Trezoros took place in London at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival on Sept. 27.
Russo co-founded the independent studio The Shooting Gallery (Laws of Gravity, Sling Blade) and directed the Emmy-nominated PBS short film series showcasing “ShortCuts” hosted by Louis CK. He told The National Herald, “At the core of the film is the expression of human resilience in the face of horrific adversity.”
Producer/Co-Director Confino is the Founder of Synapse Productions and Executive Director of ImageRescue, Inc. Based in New York City, Confino has produced documentaries and commercial projects on a variety of subjects around the world. “We felt a strong sense of responsibility to preserve the history of the Kastorian Sephardic Jewish community and did our best to tell the story in a very honest first person style. We wanted reveal as much as we possibly could about the true character of the people and the culture that was lost. The unexpected benefit from the experience of creating the film is that I now feel I have a better sense of my own identity and a deeper connection to my Greek roots,” Confino told TNH.
Trezoros is an inspiring story of survival that has universal resonance and is of particular interest to the Jewish and Greek communities worldwide many of whom may not even be aware of the history of the Jews of Kastoria. The poignant story of one family’s experience helps honor the memory of the once vibrant community and reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man and also of the enduring spirit of the people who survived the horrors of the war. As George Santayana wrote in The Life of Reason, 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” More information about the film is available online at www.trezoros.com. The film trailer and a clip may be viewed on the website and on YouTube as well.