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THE MASCOT

Australia, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Australian Showcase)

Director: Lina Caneva

During WWII the residents of five-year-old Alex Kurzem's village were rounded up to be shot. The spirited kid ran off, living for two months in nearby woods. Scrounging food (he had determined that strawberries grew in close proximity to the corpses of fallen soldiers), braving weather and dodging enemy patrols, the child finally arrived exhausted at a farmhouse. He was turned in to collect a bounty for captured Jews.

Kurrem was befriended by an enemy soldier, his life spared and he was made the mascot of the invaders. Over the next few years he became assimilated into his new life and, despite his Jewish background, he appeared in propaganda films promoting the Aryan way of life and lived in comfort and security. Given a new name and birthdate, he was taken in by a wealthy Latvian family who migrated to Australia after the war.

Now retired and living in a quiet Melbourne suburb, Kurzem decided to reveal the secret he had kept from everyone. The truth has a totally unexpected impact on his life and loved ones. This incredible but true story or a survivor has a bizarre twist best kept as another secret, this time to be revealed at The Mascot's MIFF premiere.

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