Ganef is a beautifully filmed and delicately observed short film (14 minutes) written and directed by Mark Rosenblatt and set in early 1960s London. Inadvertently, the obviously very comfortable world of a young girl Ruthie (Izabella Dziewanska) and the playful friendship that she has with Lynn, the cleaner of her parents’ house (Sophie McShera), is shattered when her mother (Mrs Hirth played by Lydia Wilson ), perhaps a little too tired in the afternoon, gives her a glimpse into her wartime past and the warnings of a ganef (thief) being around.
The literal interpretation that a child can have is the catalyst for events unfolding that make Ruthie believe that her “play-friend” and her mother’s house cleaner Lynn is now a dreaded “ganef”. This has to be true; she has seen it with her own eyes.
What makes this film interesting is not what is said, but what is not said. Much of the history of those wartime years is in the visual details of this film, inviting the viewer to watch carefully, and Lynn’s reserved and almost silent reaction to Ruthie in the aftermath of the accusations made by the child against her tell more than any script could tell.
Like all well written films, there are two stories here. The obvious story of survivors of wartime horrors is one, but the speed with which the trust that a child has in someone so easily turns to fear is just as powerful story.
There are no weak performances here, Izabella Dziewanska is perfectly cast as Ruthie and Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera more than earns her star status in this film.
Having already been successful in many film festivals this film was also a Finalist at the 2021 Manhattan Short Film Festival, making it eligible to be considered for a 2022 Oscar.
Lydia Wilson, Sophie McShera, Izabella Dziewanska, Danny Scheinmann.
Review by Tom King (c) 2021
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