Though childhood friends on Curaçao, Tsale and Mark’s family roots lie in Ukraine and Belarus. During the Holocaust, their Jewish parents fled to an exotic island they didn’t know in the southern Caribbean to secure safe futures for their children. The two pensioners and old pals of director Sherman De Jesus decide to visit Eastern Europe together in search of their families’ histories.
The emotional road trip takes them to desolate-looking areas that – just like the exotic, colourful Curaçao – seem to be metaphors for their life histories and those of previous generations of their families. The duo speak openly about their emotions during their search. How did their courageous parents experience the wartime migration? And how did things go for the families on Curaçao, the island that offered them such a warm welcome? Besides personal experiences, A Shtetl in the Caribbean also contains intense conversations with witnesses who are still living, private photos and unique archival material.