Krzysztof, 11 year old Christian boy, lives with his parents in a small village in Eastern Poland of 1942. Due to the family's illiterate nature and deserted location, the War is less felt in the Rutas household, and the small family remains mostly secluded in the deep Stalowa-Wola forest.
As Krzysztof's father, Karl, decides to hide an Aryan-looking Jewish boy in the family's house, Krzysztof faces a forecoming power struggle and a fear for his own place within the family. In his delicate manners, Janek (10) prompts Karl's attention, which quickly flares up Krzysztof's jealousy.
Director's statement // Muriel Naim
The story is inspired by real events, and is roughly based
on my grandfather's story as an under-disguise Jewish boy
in a rural Christian household in Poland.
From a very young age I was exposed to an enormous amount of information and generational trauma infused through school, neighbours, within my core family, and in after-class activities about the Jewish holocaust.
Both terrified and fascinated by the subject, I restlessly researched and explored the impacts and outcomes of the holocaust from my early childhood and into my artistic career.
Nevertheless, My grandfather - a shut off figure with strict manners and a rough attitude towards the sensitive subject - never talked about his childhood or past life. Following a "Yad Vashem" request to make an official statement, he agreed to share his personal story and to add his testimony to the national holocaust museum. When I first read his statement a few years ago, I was aghast. None of the rumors or stories told by my parents or other relatives could prepare me to the intense and perplexing situation my grandfather was thrown into in such a young age.
My grandfather's story prompted me to create a fictional narrative with an unusual aim: to reveal the trauma, pain, and identity crisis of a Jewish boy, along with a wide-eyed approach to the Christian family, looking into the other side's feelings, thoughts and fears as well.
I wanted to tell a version of the story not in the usual heroic way, but rather in a human, more personal way, however complex it may be.
The film reveals the internal turmoil of the "Stolen children" phenomenon and deals with implications of Jewish identity, social hypocrisy and extremism in the 2nd world war. At its core, it questions the human morals and one's fear, and explores the darkest corners of a boy's soul.