In Darkness

Germany, Poland, Canada

Synopsis

Based on a true story: Leopold Socha, a sewerage worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi-occupied city in Poland, one day encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto. He hides them for money in the labyrinth of the town’s sewers beneath the bustling activity of the city above. What starts out as a straightforward and cynical business arrangement turns into something very unexpected, the unlikely alliance between Socha and the Jews as the enterprise seeps deeper into Socha’s conscience. The film is also an extraordinary story of survival as these men, women and children all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of ever-increasing and intense danger.

Director's Statement

A number of new Holocaust stories, books and films, came out in 2009. One may ask if everything has now been said on this subject. But in my opinion the main mystery hasn’t yet been resolved, or even fully explored. How was this crime (echoes of which continue in different places in the world from Rwanda to Bosnia) possible? Where was Man during this crisis? Where was God? Are these events and actions the exception in human history or do they reveal an inner, dark truth about our nature? Exploring the many stories from this period you uncover the incredible variety of human destinies and adventures, revealed in the richest texture of plots and dramas, with characters that face difficult moral and human choices, exercising both the best and the worst in human nature. One of those stories is Leopold Socha and the group of Jews from Lvov’s Ghetto, whom he hides in the city’s sewers. The main character is ambiguous; religious and immoral at the same time, perhaps an ordinary man, living in terrible times. During the story Socha grows in many ways as a human being. There is nothing easy or sentimental in his journey. This is why it’s fascinating; it’s why we can make this journey with him. The group of Jews he saves is not made of angels. The fear, the terrible conditions, their own selfishness make them complex and difficult, sometimes unbearable. But they are real and alive, and their imperfections give them a stronger claim to their right to life than any idealized version of victims could. I immediately liked the story, liked the potential of it, the characters, and the script. The biggest challenge for me as a filmmaker was the darkness. They live in the dark, stinking and wet isolation for over a year. We wanted the audience to have the sensual feeling of being there. And to maintain tension as the viewer slowly becomes attached to the story. The dynamic of the film is built on inter-cutting the worlds of the two leads, Socha and Mundek. These two worlds come together as one, in which they must work together to survive.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

Written by: David F. Shamoon

Produced by: Leander Carell, Juliusz Machulski, Eric Jordan, Paul Stephens, Steffen Reuter, Patrick Knippel, Marc-Daniel Dichant

Cinematography: Jolanta Dylewska

Editing: Michał Czarnecki

Production Design: Erwin Prib

Original Score: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz

Main Cast: Robert Więckiewicz (Leopold Socha), Benno Fürmann (Mundek Margulies), Agnieszka Grochowska (Klara Keller), Maria Schrader (Paulina Chiger), Herbert Knaup (Ignacy Chiger)

Nominations and Awards

  • People's Choice Award 2012
  • Feature Film Selection 2012