Review: Where Hands Touch
by Carlota Moseguí
- TORONTO 2018: Amma Asante denounces racial intolerance in Nazi Germany with a story of forbidden love between a black teenager and a member of the Hitler Youth
British director, screenwriter and actress Amma Asante presented her fourth feature film, Where Hands Touch [+see also:
film profile], as a Special Presentation at Toronto . After A United Kingdom [+see also:
interview: David Oyelowo
film profile], Asante has chosen to focus on victims in Nazi Germany, people who are not mentioned as often as the Jews but who were also persecuted and exterminated in the name of the Aryan race. The film serves to remind its audience that the Jews were not the only people sacrificed during the Holocaust. As Asante shows, all black Germans born during that era were spared during the Nazi's initial rise to power, but were soon deported to the same extermination camps.
Where Hands Touch – which takes place in Germany in 1944 – is a story about growing up, whose heroine is a teenager living in terror due to the colour of her skin. Leyna (Amandla Stenberg) is German, born to a Caucasian mother (Abbie Cornish) and a black foreign fighter, whom she has never met. Her nightmare begins when she moves with her mother and little brother to the village where her relatives live. There, in Rüdesheim am Rhein, she experiences racism for the first time. Everyone calls her "the mongrel": her classmates, her teacher, even her uncle and aunt, and of course the SS patrols.
Paradoxically, the only person who treats Leyna as his equal is a member of the Hitler Youth, who falls in love with her. Despite being the son of an SS officer, the young Lutz (George MacKay) does not share his father's ideals. After their first chance encounter Leyna and Lutz start to see each other in secret, putting their lives in grave danger.
The film's screenplay was written entirely in English, which is not the only thing the film shares in common with Roman Polanski's The Pianist. Beyond the denunciation of the Nazi's racial intolerance, Where Hands Touch is a moving story about a lost teenager who will emancipate herself as a woman and learn to defend herself after losing her family and everything she loves.
Where Hands Touch was produced by Tantrum Films (United Kingdom) and Umedia (Belgium), with the collaboration of the British companies Isle of Man Film Ltd, Pinewood Studios, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, the BFI and the British Film Company. The film's international sales are being handled by Protagonist Pictures.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.