Films: Joanna

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Poland, 2010, 105 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Historical/Period, Social Issues, War
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: German English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Feliks Falk
Producer: Michal Kwiecinski
Editor: Krzysztof Szpetmanski
Screenwriter: Feliks Falk
Cinematographer: Piotr Sliskowski
Principal Cast: Urszula Grabowska, Sara Knothe, Joachim Paul Assböck, Stanislawa Celinska

The eponymous heroine of this World War II drama written and directed by Feliks Falk—who appeared at SDFF10 with Hero of the Year—is a bright and wary young Pole (Urszula Grabowska) who's struggling to survive in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. As she awaits her soldier-husband’s return from the front, Joanna's world is turned inside out upon discovering a seven-year-old Jewish girl hiding in a church. Separated from her mother after a raid, little Rose (Sara Knothe) is understandably frightened and bewildered. When Joanna decides to take her in, a surrogate mother-daughter relationship begins to develop within the walls of her roomy apartment. But the dangers in Warsaw are intense: Gestapo house searches, curious neighbors, the bafflement of Joanna's own family, and even the Polish resistance, constantly on the watch for collaborators. When an ostensibly sympathetic and cultured German officer (Joachim Paul Assböck) barges into Joanna's tenuous life, she faces some crucial moral choices. How far is this conflicted woman willing to go to protect the child she is harboring? And what will be the ultimate consequences?

While addressing the cruel ironies of war and the qualities of heroism, director Falk has elicited outstanding performances from his small cast, and Bartel Gliniak's haunting classical score provides just the right counterpoint to the drama at hand. As for the little girl, the big eyes and the tear-stained face are indelible.
In cooperation with Kosciuszko Foundation

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