April 5th | 08:00 pm
22 years after the end of the WWII, the inhabitants of a small Austrian town are still impacted by dangerous reminders of Nazi Germany. When 9-year-old Johanna and her family are evacuated due to the danger of unexploded munitions, shameful family secrets are also unearthed. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Elisabeth Escher, HANNA’S SLEEPING DOGS explores a young girl’s embrace of her heritage and her family’s past as she grapples with a newly found self-image.22years after the end of the Second World War, the inhabitants of the small Austrian provincial town of Wels are still impacted by dangerous reminders of Nazi Germany. Sirens wail and nine-year-old Johanna and her family, along with other townsfolk, must evacuate their homes. Road construction has unearthed unexploded munitions. But before the bomb can be safely removed, it detonates. A dog is killed. “Those war criminals!” shouts one of Johanna’s neighbors. Anger against the Allied bombings and latent allegiance for the German occupiers is still evident among many families in Wels. “Secrecy—at some point everything comes out and blows up in your face,” utters Ruth, Johanna’s blind grandmother.
Johanna overhears her father telling her mother that only he can see her as she truly is. A schoolteacher tells Johanna that her grandmother’s accent denotes that she’s not from Wels. Then, when her mother forbids her and her brother from entering a Catholic Youth singing competition, arguing that such public exposure is unacceptable, Johanna begins to realize that she and her family are outsiders in her hometown, and that her family is harboring a shameful secret.
When Johanna discovers that her tormented mother and grandmother are Jewish, she asks: “But what does it mean?” Throughout the war and beyond, her mother and grandmother had to keep their Jewish identity hidden. Robbed of their name, their religion, and their Zionist ideals, they chose to call her Johanna instead of Hanna and brought her up Catholic.
Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Elisabeth Escher, HANNA’S SLEEPING DOGS explores a young girl’s embrace of her heritage and her family’s past as she grapples with a newly found self image.
New York Premiere
Director & Screenplay Andreas Gruber
Cinematography Martin Gressmann
Cast Hannelore Elsner, Nike Seitz, Franziska Weisz, Rainer Egger, Johannes Silberschneider, Christian Wolff
Production Companies enigma film, Provinzfilm International, in co-production with BR, ORF, Mixtvision Film & TV, Oryx Media
Length 120 min
Awards Bavarian Film Award – Best Music 2016; Golden Goblet Best Screenplay, Shanghai 2016