Over the course of eight years, between 2006-2014, Vanessa Lapa and Tomer Eliav were engaged in making 'The Decent One', the award-winning feature documentary film based on Heinrich Himmler's unknown and unpublished private diaries, letters and photographs. The film was produced entirely from primary visual archival footage - 151 sources from 16 countries - most of which we uncovered.
Since much of the footage was in an advanced stage of decay, neither the necessary technology nor the required expertise existed in Israel prior to our endeavors. The filmmakers purchased the most advanced technology, both hardware and software, and hired a specialist to train a team of editors to use this technology for the frame by frame restoration of the film.
Our research took us to over 200 public and private archives, community centers, libraries and schools in the United States, Israel and Europe. We were surprised to discover many original films of exceptional historical importance that document Jewish life at different periods and in different countries that had not been digitized. The research revealed that many of these old materials were in very bad condition. We found an enormous amount of unusual and rare footage. The lack of attention or plan for preserving it was alarming.
For many of these films no records exist of their content or the story they tell. The majority of these films are in a state of advanced decay. If this rare historical footage deteriorates further, much of the visual documentation of the Jewish past will be lost.