The very large issue of Holocaust art restitution is whittled down in this compelling documentary to a very small painting: Egon Schiele’s 1912 portrait of his mistress Walpurga Neuzil. In Vienna, before the Second World War, Portrait of Wally hung in the home of gallery owner Lea Bondi. After the Anschluss, a Nazi collector seized the painting; the following day, Ms. Bondi fled Austria. She survived the war, but never forgot about her painting. Many years later, her nephew spotted it at a Schiele retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York – beginning a years-long battle for its return to the family. There is a long list of people and institutions (not to mention Austria itself) that do not come off well here, among them MoMA and National Public Radio – which terminated a contract with a reporter who covered the story, stating his coverage was unfair to the museum. Despite moving maddeningly quickly at times, this documentary – co-written by that reporter (David D’Arcy) – makes it clear that this was not the case.
Oct. 2, 3:15 pm Granville 4; Oct. 10, 10:45 am, Pacific Cinémathèque.
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