A film by Frank Stiefel
2009, 40 minutes
No. 160


Director Frank Stiefel's new film, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, an Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Short Subject, is now available.

Ingelore Herz Honigstein was born in 1924 to Jewish parents in Kuppenheim Germany. She is deaf. As an expression of their embarrassment over their mute child, her parents ignore her and make no attempt at communication. She is sent to a variety of tutors where she learns the most rudimentary forms of language. At the age of six she says her first word. At the age of twelve she finally constructs a complete sentence. She enters the first grade at the age of 13 and for the first time comes into contact with other deaf children. Her short-lived education is interrupted by Kristallnacht when she is thrown out of school and sent home. 

Ingelore offers a unique perspective on the Holocaust. Through her eyes we see the shifts in her classmates and neighbor’s attitudes. She witnesses her father being taken and then released from Dachau
. She is raped by Nazi cadets on the streets of Berlin, negotiates for her life with an unfeeling official at the US Consulate in Stuttgart and finally escapes Germany for the United States where she learns that she is now pregnant as a result of the rape. Her amazing life shapes her into an extraordinary teacher and we learn the power of light over darkness. 

Ingelore is more than a biography, it is a meditation on freedom both physical and emotional. The film includes first person interviews with Ingelore. She alternates between using her voice and sign language, offering the viewer an opportunity to experience her silent world. Verite footage of her return to the village she left in 1940 is both touching and dramatic. The film also uses a great deal of archival footage and four simple recreations of her story.

Winner, Best Film Award, Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Winner, President's Choice Award, Shreveport Jewish Film Festival
Offical Selection, Museum Of Modern Art: Documentary Fortnight Showcase

"A deeply moving documentary... There is a great poignancy to this film, much of it conveyed through Ingelore’s emotional narration as she speaks and signs to the camera." - The Huffington Post

"A heartbreaking story that nevertheless underscores one woman’s resilience and indefatigable spirit. Highly recommended." - Video Librarian