In Darkness

In Darkness

“Singular and superbly dramatic… the suspense, derived from a true story, is excruciating and inspiring in equal measure.” Joe Morgenstern, Wall St Journal

Year: 2011
Country: Canada, Germany, Poland
Running time: 145 mins
Censor Rating: R16 - violence, sex scenes, content may disturb

Producers: Steffen Reuter, Patrick Knippel, Marc-Daniel Dichant, Leander Carell, Juliusz Machulski, Paul Stephens, Eric Jordan
Screenplay: David F. Shamoon. Based on the book In the Sewers of Lvov by Robert Marshall
Photography: Jolanta Dylewska
Editor: Michał Czarnecki
Production designer: Erwin Prib
Art directors: Katarzyna Sobańska, Marcel Sławiński
Costume designers: Katarzyna Lewińska, Jagna Janicka
Music: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz
In Polish, German, Yiddish and Ukranian, with English subtitles

With: Robert Więckiewicz (Leopold Socha), Benno Fürmann (Mundek Margulies), Agnieszka Grochowska (Klara Keller), Maria Schrader (Paulina Chiger), Herbert Knaup (Ignacy Chiger), Kinga Preis (Wanda Socha), Krzysztof Skonieczny (Szczepek), Julia Kijowska (Chaja), Marcin Bosak (Yanek Weiss)

Festivals: Toronto, Vancouver 2011

Nominated Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards 2012

The formidable Agnieszka Holland, more recently engaged on Treme, The Killing and The Wire, returns to her native Poland and the WWII setting of her most vivid work (Angry Harvest and Europa, Europa). What emerges is a third, equally indelible war story, a terrifying true tale in which opportunism, desperation and compassion wrestle in the hearts of ordinary men and women under the sway of Nazi occupation. — BG

“Chronicling wartime events in (and under) the Polish city of Lvov, this Oscar-nominated drama uncovers an incredible true story of courage and humanity. What’s distinctive and worthwhile about Agnieszka Holland’s film, though, is how it sees the diverse shades within that humanity, eschewing the moral absolutes which – for understandable reasons – have dominated this cinematic territory.

So, when the Nazis send in brutal Ukrainian special forces to exterminate Lvov’s Jews, Socha (Robert Więckiewicz, spot-on throughout), a sewer inspector with a pragmatic sideline in burglary, at first stands idly by. Indeed, when desperate Jewish fugitives seek refuge in the sewers, he extorts a fee from them to keep it secret. Their horrendous living conditions in turn do little to heal the class divisions limiting their unity. All of this is grimly believable, so that when the green shoots of decency eventually spring up, they do so in a way that is far from hackneyed, slightly mysterious, and thus all the more affecting. Convincing in its detail, nail-chewing in its mounting suspense, In Darkness is illuminating, provocative and bracingly unsentimental. It positively clamours for your attention.” — Trevor Johnson, Time Out

NZIFF STAFF PICK: Bill Gosden, Sandra Reid

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