Following a heart attack, fifty-year-old Peter Vanlaw is haunted by questions about his family. He delves into his father’s long-held secret and discovers that his family is Jewish. Upon the death of his parents, he uncovers hundreds of family photos and reels of 16mm film. This wealth of material leads him to family stories of pathos and danger dating back to the early 1900s.
Ultimately, all are woven into a film about the discoveries of his heritage, of close relatives he never knew, of the ravages of his mother’s mental illness, of a grandparent’s suicide, and of the lasting damage caused by the Holocaust. His story takes us from California to pre-war Germany, Europe, Asia and beyond.