New to VOD this week:
Dallas, St Louis, Flatland
The story of how stolen German cultural treasures worth millions were recovered from a Texan town in the late 1980s.
Hay’s film reveals how Willi Korte, a German who has become a specialist in recovering lost or stolen art, teamed up with New York Times reporter Bill Honan to locate the fabled Quedlinburg Treasures, religious artifacts lost at the end of WWII. Korte’s detective work tracks the items to a small Texan town, Whitewright, and the family of Joe Meador, a WWII soldier who helped himself to the treasures when he discovered them hidden in a cave. Mailing them home piece by piece as the spoils of war, despite strict prohibition from doing so, Meador held on to the treasures for decades, bragged about them to friends, and used them to lure younger men for sex. After he died, his family started to inquire about selling them, and this led to a face off with Korte. The family eventually makes out handsomely despite the illegality of the way they acquired the items, and with questions lingering as to their potential knowledge of the location of still missing pieces. While the film lacks a certain dynamism, both in its over-reliance on talking heads and its wholly retrospective telling, there remains here the hints of an interesting story about the dubious ethics of its central figure that one wished were more fully teased out.