Lore (2013)

Lore, movie, NaziThe eponymous heroine of the movie Lore (trailer) is 14-year-old Hannalore. Her parents have been staunch National Socialists, and at the end of the war both have disappeared, and the only sure thing about their fates is that they are not coming back. Lore, her younger sister, twin brothers, and baby brother are alone in a cabin in the Black Forest with no food. The neighbors know whose children they are and want them out.

To find refuge, they must attempt to traverse the length of a ravaged Germany to their grandmother’s home in the north. Without papers, crossing from the American to the Russian to the British Zone is chancy and requires night travel. And the Russians hate them on sight. Along their laborious way, they encounter many unspeakable results of war, but little food, and Lore gradually depletes the cache of her mother’s jewelry for an egg or a little milk for the baby.

Gradually, Lore sees the consequences of her parents’ politics. In one town, she studies the photos posted of the death camps. Other people attempt to explain away how such pictures could come to be, but Lore sees something they do not—the SS officer managing the disposition of the prisoners is her father.

They meet a young Jewish man who turns out to be a useful guide, protector, and scavenger for food. But Lore cannot overcome the anti-Semitism drilled into her, and her relationship with him is both tense and confused, mixing repulsion and desire. The younger children recognize him for what he is: a friend.

Australian director Cate Shortland cast newcomer Saskia Rosendahl as Lore, and the young actress does a remarkable job, as do all the children (the baby was certainly an enthusiastic crier!). The film builds in power as the revelations of this difficult journey affect Lore, and she too faces moral choices and their consequences. “We know where this is going pretty early on,” says reviewer Steven Boone for Roger Ebert.com, “but that doesn’t prevent Lore from being riveting stuff, start to finish.”

In the Crosswind

In the Crosswind, Martti Heide, Laura Peterson, Tarmo Song

Laura Peterson & Tarmo Song, In the Crosswind

If ever a movie deserved to be called an art film, this 2014 Estonian film is it (trailer). Director Martti Heide’s full-length debut chronicles Stalin’s 1941 sudden overnight deportation of 40,000 citizens of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to forced labor camps in Siberia. Families were separated, people worked in slave-labor conditions, food was minimal, and many starved. No food was provided for children.

The story, based on a real-life diary, follows the experiences of Erna, a young wife and mother (played by Laura Peterson) desperate to reunite with her husband Heldur (Tarmo Song) and return home. While the story is perhaps typical for people in such brutal circumstances, the way of filming it is not. Heide took months sometimes to set up his shots, which are filmed in long, unedited, silent takes (with a soundtrack of gunshots, trains, creaking