Where Hands Touch, the latest from writer and director Amma Asante, tells the story of a bi-racial teen struggling to survive in Nazi Germany.
Amandla Stenberg stars as Lenya, a 15 year old. Her mother is frantic to keep her safe. They go to Berlin hoping to be invisible. Lenya can hardly be invisible, however. She faces problems in school and in her neighborhood. Chillingly, Lenya says, “As I reached 16 I realized Hitler had a plan for us.”
Where Hands Touch is a love story. Lenya falls in love with a member of the Hitler Youth (George MacKay). Their love puts them both in danger. The story is billed as an original coming of age story seen through the eyes of a bi-racial teen. She witnesses the persecution of Jews and those deemed non-pure such as herself first hand.
Abbie Cornish, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Goodman-Hill, and Alec Newman are also featured in the film. Director Amma Asante has given us a number of excellent films, including A United Kingdom, Belle, and A Way of Life. This film looks equally outstanding.
Where Hands Touch will be in theaters on September 14. It will premier at TIFF a week before that, and reviews should start appearing. I’m interested in how the film is relevant to modern neo-Nazi movements in America, because I’m sure the line stretching from Nazi Germany to Trump’s American will be pretty clear.
Amma Asante films are always relevant. Here’s how she described her thoughts on making the film on Instagram.
UPDATE: So many of you have had questions and concerns about this First Look image so I want to assure you that this film does not romanticize Nazis in any way. My full quote with the image clarifies that my passion has been to shine a light on the existence of the children of color who were born and raised under Hitler. These children were also persecuted and my wish has been to explore how black and bi-racial German identity was perceived and experienced under Nazi fascist rule. This girl’s experience sits along side the Jewish experience and the experience of others who were persecuted. It looks at how Germany became Nazi Germany and slept walked itself into a disgusting and murderous state that resulted in it killing it’s own people and those of other countries. Leyna’s story (Amandla Stenberg) sits in this sad and terrifying context. My reasons for making this film sit around my concerns of the current climate but also a continued and growing intolerance of racial and religious difference that we have all sensed for many years and which is becoming even worse now. As a filmmaker my wish is to center on bringing attention to this through my work. Amandla and i teamed together to shine a light on the hatred that Nazi Germany visited on Europe and to make a film that might contribute to the dialogue of how we fight this horrific racial and religious ignorance today along with the intolerances visited on the many other marginalized groups and intersections. With only a few lines and one image ever offered to a filmmaker to comment on a First Look image release, and with the lead character in this film embarking on such a large rites of passage story, it’s difficult to summarize all the things one might want to about a film in a brief article. Amandla’s role in this film brings attention to an as yet untold story in the arena of drama cinema, to the existence of the other ‘others’ who suffered during the holocaust. This does not mean that the Jewish experience is not also key to our story. It is. I hope that this at least clarifies some of your concerns. I have all the…(cont’d in following comment)
Watch the trailer. Are you going to watch Where Hands Touch?