Few outside Europe are familiar with Guy Môquet, the symbol of the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation during the second World War, but to the country of France, he is a brave soul that lives forever in their hearts and minds. Calm at Sea, a narrative based on Môquet’s final days, is one of the outstanding historical dramas that Corinth is especially proud to distribute.
In October of 1941, two German officers are gunned down in broad daylight in Nantes by French Resistance members, the first instance of German blood to be shed in this region. In retaliation, Hitler orders 100 Frenchmen to be shot. Instead of innocent Frenchmen, it was later arranged that 100 political prisoners would die, selected by the district administrator from a camp in Brittany where Môquet and others like him are incarcerated for various offences. Môquet himself was guilty of distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets.
The harshness of Hitler’s order leaves the inhabitants of the camp in disbelief. Môquet, at age 17, is the youngest of all the prisoners to be executed. This event quickly becomes known as one of France’s many World War 2 atrocities, and in the years following his death, Môquet was mourned and remembered by his countrymen. The prisoners are forced to grapple with their consciences and reflect on the impact they have had on the resistance against the Nazis and their other fellow comrades. Môquet’s last letter, written before his execution, has become one of France’s proud relics, and since 2007 has become required reading of French school children.
Volker Schlöndorff, the writer and director of this film, reflects: “In his memorandum, ‘On the Hostage Question’, Ernst Jünger reports about the shootings of French citizens during the Occupation. This long lost text is one of the sources for my screenplay which is also based on letters from the hostages, police records, and a novella by Heinrich Böll.”
Schlöndorff reflects on his days in Vannes, France more than fifty years ago, in which he remembers the sentiments the French had towards their German occupiers. It was at that time when he learned of the events that unfolded after the German officers were gunned down in Nantes that ultimately led to the creation of the French Resistance. The prestigious German director has carefully and brilliantly re-created a narrative of the events that unfolded after that event, and in doing so has helped to preserve the memory of the young man who bravely defied the Nazi occupation of France.
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Joseph (James Fox) and Brenda (Brenda Fricker) have done what many only dream of and retired to the south of France to live out the rest of their days as if on permanent vacation. Retirement for Joseph, however, is not the holiday he thought it to be, and begins to reimagine life after meeting a young, attractive woman named Suzanne (Natalie Dormer).
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Yaron, an elite special operations squad leader, is the spiritual leader and alpha male
among his peers, a small, highly trained team that is part of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s
Anti-Terrorism unit. Like a band of brothers, these men work, play, laugh, and cry together.
They are true patriots; they love their country, their families, and each other. Yaron is
ambitious and energetic, but a cyclone of emotions consumes him. His wife is expecting
their first child, and the failing health of a team member weighs on his soul as the men
contend with an unforgivable accident resulting from a miscalculation during a recent
rescue mission, and the price that must be paid as a result of this.
As the story shifts, the antagonists are introduced: a small group of young, passionate,
idealist, and politically extreme individuals with their own vision of how Israeli society
should be. They see themselves as a Robin Hood of sorts, and although their means
involve methods of terrorism, set forth to make their misguided vision a reality.
Circumstances swell, and Yaron faces something he never imagined; the prospect of
the very sort of evil he works to eliminate taking on the form of his beloved Israeli
countrymen. For the sake of his team, his expectant wife, and himself, he must hold
himself together and perform his duties.
Director Nadav Lapid made several short films during his studies in the Sam Spiegel Film
School, which were screened in Cannes, Berlin and Locarno. His graduate film, Emile’s
Girlfriend (50 min) was distributed in France. He participated in the Festival de Cannes
Residence, where he wrote the script for Policeman. The project won the pitching price
of the Jerusalem Film Festival and of the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 2008. Keep On
Dancing, a collection of novels he wrote, was published in Israel and France. Lapid studied
philosophy and history and worked as a sports and culture journalist, a television critic and
“A boldly conceived and bracingly told political drama, Policeman (Hashoter) possesses a
special contemporary pertinence in the wake of the recent massive protests relating to the
vast class and economic disparities in Israel.”
— Todd McCarthy, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“It’s been a long time since a first feature has displayed such masterly direction as Nadav
Lapid’s Policeman (Hashoter), such a sense of connection to the films of Godard, Bresson,
Fassbinder, Kubrick, and Haneke, and giving those more perceptive viewers such a
conviction of witnessing the arrival of an outstanding filmmaker while also discovering a
major film as brilliant in formal terms as in its ideas.”