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The Darien Dilemma


In “The Darien Dilemma,” a father and his filmmaker son uncover the gripping story of 1,000 Jews stranded on the frozen Danube in 1941, awaiting a critical decision from Mossad agent Ruth and her team in Istanbul. The film combines interviews with survivors, dramatic reenactments, and personal narratives to bring this lesser-known chapter to life. Initially set to explore his own family’s escape from Europe, Nachum Laufer’s research led him to Ruth Kliger, “The Lady of the Mossad,” whose story exemplifies the complex pre-WWII history of Jewish Palestine. This documentary not only captures a poignant historical narrative but also delves into the moral dilemmas faced by those involved, offering a layered tale of survival, identity, and resilience.


  • Haaretz
    (in Hebrew) Nahum & Erez Laufer, father & son , that made this film integrated survivor interviewees with actors, place the affair in the tension between the Hebrew Jews of Israel and the Diaspora Jewry. The impression is that the interest of the locals was more important than the need to save the Jews from Europe...

    Their heroine is worth a biography, Ruth Klieger-Aliav, savior emissary to Rumania and Turkey, a beautiful lady, daring and romantic, and also some fantasy, acted by Hadas Kalderon, music by Yehuda Poliker. According to the film "The First Lady of the Mossad" tried to fight for the Darien, but her tears couldn't overcome the inflexibility of the Zionist authorities headed by Weizmann himself, the Refugees were abandoned...
    Tom Segev, Historian
  • Tel-Aviv magazine
    The story develops and spreads out, even now years after one can't believe it's true: The Mossad agents buy a ship, but it is sold to the British. In the meanwhile the Nazis appear and the fate of the Jews is gets bad and worse. Mossad agent Ruth Klieger gets some of them, teenagers, out by certificates.
    Yakir Elkariv
  • Maariv
    (in Hebrew) "The Darien Dilemma" documentary film written by Nahum Laufer and directed by his son Erez, is the result of the meeting between Nahum and Ruth Klieger's archive. It's also a story of a son and father working together, depicted in a very delicate and refined manner during a 90 minute film.
    Tali Lipkin Shahak
  • Walla
    The perfect entertainment for Holocaust Day, "The Darien Dilemma" a critical and exiting viewpoint on the fate of one "illegal" ship.

    At the distance of 60 years we can ask questions on certain paragraphs of that part of our history without being complete heretics in our belief in our founding fathers. The film justifies the decision taken by the Mossad activists on the issue of the Darien, I was convinced, but the main point is the public expression of looking into our history.

    By the way that is another good point about this film, there is no blatant brutality or emotional squeezing, in my eyes it's the gentleness of the film that makes it so effective. No manipulative pictures of corpses, no survivor crying before the camera, only people telling their sad tale, restrained, reconciliated, and even with a smile, it works. If you go to the film put a tissue packet in your bag, just in case.
    Moria Daum Kaplan
  • Globes
    "Klieger's List"

    A fascinating Documentary film "The Darien Dilemma", Ruth the Mossad Agent attempts to save a 1000 Jews from Europe during World War II, reveals a shivering conflict between the private and national interests, and brings us to reflect again if the Yishuv (The Jewish authorities of Palestine-Israel at that time) did enough...

    Professor Shatzker that explains to the directors that the film reminds him of Shindler's List, Spielberg's Holocaust epic, with one big difference: In Shindler's List a 1000 Jews that were saved from certain death by one man, in the Darien saga a 1000 Jews that should have been saved were murdered.

    But the targets of the two films are different. While Shindler's List is a tear and sob squeezer to fulfill Hollywood ideological aims, “The Darien Dilemma" doesn't attempt to show us the atrocities, respecting the victims and knowing that they can't be transmitted. The film faces the spectator with some not simple queries.

    Their Heroine is Ruth Klieger one of the Mossad's first agents, exhibited as beautiful and sensual lady, almost Laufer's senior object of passion.

    This is the difference between a small personal tale to a big drama with wide implications. it helps to tell a forgotten but important story, and opened another window to look upon those terrible years.
    Dan Shador

Festival Participation

  • Docaviv (Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival) - 2006
  • Miami Jewish Film Festival
  • Reel Jews Film Festival (Makor)
  • Festival Internacional De Cine Judio en la Argentina
  • Jewish Women Film Festival
  • Warsaw Jewish Film Festival
  • Virginia Festival of Jewish Film
  • Seattle Jewish Film Festival
  • Israel Film Festival (Los Angles, Miami, New York)
  • Manhattan JCC Film Series
  • North Virginia International Jewish Film Festival
  • JCC on the Pallisades Film Series
  • The Toronto Jewish Film Festival
  • Montreal Goethe Institute

Additional Materials

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