"When we were filming in the prison in former Soviet Union I was shocked. That was the hardest part for me, thinking about my mother when she was 25 years old, 10 years younger then I am today, going into this cell, not knowing when she's going to get out of there."
"It is not a just-the-facts documentary, as it wears its heart on its sleeve, and the emotional pull will leave the audience breathless."
The programmers at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival have done an excellent job of presenting some very interesting stories at this year’s festival, but this one may take the rugelach... Read more
Parshat Bo: ‘Operation Wedding’ or ‘Jenin, Jenin’?
Director Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov at the Knesset Channel with English subtitles
Read: Article & review
At 29, while she was driving down an Israeli highway, another driver ramned into her car, causing a serious collision. “I thought I was dying,” she recalls. “When he crashed me, my car was spinning at least four times and during that time, I thought: Is this how I'll die? How is that possible, I didn't make the film about my parents yet..."
When Russian Jews tried to steal a plane to reach Israel
"I made my film after realizing that the story had only been told from a Soviet perspective and my parents and their friends were labeled as terrorists," Anat said.
"In what was once the prison yard, Zalmanson dances a waltz by herself as she used to as a prisoner, without music, to remember how it felt to be free. The guards would watch her from above."
"... I didn't know I was going to my Mother's prison, My Producer told me that we're going to KGB house in the center of town, I thought it was an office. When we walked in I saw this was a prison. Only when my Mom started looking for her cell, I realized it was her prison." Watch Director Anat Zalmanson Kuznetzov LIVE interview at i24NEWS
Listen: JM in the AM
"I asked my mother: if there was no Israel, would you have done it (tried to hijack the empty plane to escape USSR) and risk spending years in Gulag or death? She said no. My mother, like the rest of the group, felt that her home is in Israel and they simply wanted to return home. That was worth dying for"
Read: Article & review
It is safe to say that Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov has created the definitive tale of the Leningrad hijacking, and in the process, humanized the larger-than-life characters behind it. “I wanted to show my parents like I see them,” she said. “No one else can show them like that.” It’s hard not to pepper descriptions of the film with superlatives like heroic and courageous. It’s equally hard to stay dry-eyed throughout.
Read: Article & review
"Anat Zalmanson’s raison d’être in making this film was not only to counter the “alternative
facts” of this episode, emanating from Putin’s regime, but also to reclaim Jewish history
for today’s generation. In her hour-long film, she has succeeded exceedingly well."
Sylva Zalmanson and Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov address hundreds during Classrooms Without Borders program
Anat’s 'Operation Wedding‘ docufilm, filled with much smiles and humor is a true winner. It speaks volumes if a documentary brought me to tears of joy, victory and sadness all in one viewing, as this docufim did.
Read: Article & review
The truth is, Anat did go back in time, back to the unchanged, hard-faced former Soviet Union. Audience members wiped their eyes and bit their lips watching mother and daughter walking through a nightmare, with Sylva whispering to Anat, “Be strong.”
NY Elite Magazine
“Operation Wedding” competing for Best Documentary at IFFNY
They were told, “You will rot in here [in the USSR]; you’ll never see your Israel,” so they decided to do something desperate. Under the guise of arranging a trip to a local wedding, they decided to hijack an empty plane and fly it across the border.
"Clearly, the experience of Refuseniks like Zalmanson and Kuznetsov has timely implications for the neo-Soviet era of Putin. It is also a reminder of how different our politics looked in the early 1970s. Yet, it is also just amazing story. Very highly recommended."
Une Israélienne : mes parents voulai
a fallu des années à son père pour obtenir un matelas sur lequel dormir. Il avalait du papier roulé pour cacher le livre qu’il écrivait aux gardiens de prison. En 1973, son ouvrage « Journal de prison », a été publié à l’étranger.
Dans le film, la mère de Zalmanson-Kuznetsov retourne dans une prison de Roga où elle a passé une partie de sa peine.
"One member of the Latvian parliament who attended the screening, got engaged in a discussion with someone claiming to be a Russian historian. Apparently the historian accused Operation Wedding’s participants of could have been murderers, if their plane crashed and killed people on the ground. This historian was a Holocaust denier and their discussion exchange amassed 300 comments, giving the docufilm much exposure."
The variety of footage and the close, personal connection gave this film a unique feel, like it was partially documentary and partially narrative, too.
"Zalmanson-Kuznetsov gives us a moving, deeply human telling of her parents’ story."
Zalmanson-Kuznetsov felt compelled to make a documentary about her parents’ experiences over that period of time. From her point of view, previous accounts of this story were filled with subjectivity, and the official Soviet version of events was akin to a work of historical fiction. For her, this was both a personal project and a way to present a different side of the story.
“If I don’t make this film, then what is there to remember?” she asked.
"Ironed Curtains" blog
"The documentary leaves behind a powerful impression of what it means to stand up for something, and to have the memory of that event fade from the collective memory of the world."
It’s a dramatic story, Anat added, “but after you watch the film, I want you to feel uplifted, I want you to feel victory and strong, and this is my parents’ essence as well.”
"Edward Kuznetsov, a greater-than-life figure, has a wonderful sense of humor, even after all that he lived through. And Sylva Zalmanson shows us charm – as she waltzes and smiles on a visit back to the prison where she was held – and bravery for having pronounced loud and clear, at her KGB trial, “Next Year in Jerusalem”.
Movies to Nosh On: Global flavors, Jewish stories set the table for the annual Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival
"Watching this film, seeing a world of people committed to saving Soviet Jews, gives us the sense of looking through a magical, miraculous window on a time the likes of which we may never see again. We can, however, experience it through Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov’s powerful, emotional, exhilarating film and come away filled with both satisfaction and hope.."
"No one really knew what would happen. It was the season of the white nights. There was no sun in the pre-dawn but a gray, whitish color, dim like fog, the color of something vague. Kuznetzov, then 30, and Zalmanson, 25 at the time, were newlyweds, the hijacking was to have taken place on June 15, 1970, their six-month anniversary."
An article about our fundraising event in Tel Aviv
PRESS TO READ
Times of Israel
About the film also in Polish_edited
“I asked them all what they packed with them on the day of the hijacking,” Anat said “All of them except my father packed for freedom. He was the only one who packed for prison.”
PRESS PHOTO to read more