World Film Festival: Wakolda

Twelve-year-old Lilith’s family wants to restore a hotel in Patagonia, Argentina when Dr. Helmut Gregor, a German stranger they meet on the road, becomes their guest.


Gregor is obsessed with Lilith, his “perfect specimen,” and proposes to inject her with growth hormones because she is smaller than average. Her father refuses. Her mother, however, grants the doctor permission when she realizes her daughter is miserable because students constantly tease her height.

Wakolda is the true story of the infamous Josef Mengele, a Nazi scientist who escaped persecution in Argentina in the 1960s. In Auschwitz, Mengele experimented on prisoners, specifically young twins, but fled to South America like many Nazi criminals, continuing to operate on pregnant women, until his death in 1979.

Director Lucia Puenzo adapted her novel of the same name for film, focusing on the local German community that considers Gregor a hero and defends him.

Throughout the film you wonder whether Gregor is a pedophile, a crazy scientist or both. But he doesn’t approach Lilith with any sexual demands, only observing and experimenting on her height.

Gregor’s obsession with Lilith means he’ll do anything to win over her parents. He takes an unhealthy interest in her mother’s pregnancy and invests in her father’s doll production—opening a factory to market and sell them.

As you look closely at the dolls, you cannot help but shudder at the striking resemblance they bear to Lilith.

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