Credit: © Lucky Bird Pictures GMBH / C-Films AG / Iris Productions

Directed by Barbara Albert (Fallen (2006); Nordrand (1999); Mademoiselle Paradis (2017)) and starring Mala Emde (My Daughter, Anne Frank (2015); And Tomorrow the Entire World (2020)), Max von der Groeben (Kidnapping Stella (2019); Suck Me Shakespeer (2013)), Thomas Prenn (Why Not You (2020); Great Freedom (2021), Biohackers (TV series, 2020-2021)) and Liliane Amuat (The Girl and the Spider (2021); Miss Sixty (2014)).

Drama; 136 mins; 16+

Based on the bestselling novel by Julia Franck, which won the German Book Prize, this Luxembourg-German-Austrian co-production is a stirring homage to female physicality and self-empowerment.

Helene Würsich (Mala Emde) and her sister Martha Würsich (Liliane Amuat) grow up in Nazi Germany in a rural Jewish household. Their father is absent and their mother suppers from a mental illness and is eventually incarcerated. Helene has dreamt of being a doctor since being a child.

The girls travel to Weimar-era Berlin and initially stay with an aunt where they are exposed to decadent parties before, that is, their aunt is forced to move out.

Helene works at a pharmacy and studies with the aim of going to study medicine at university; she befriends Karl Wertheimer (Thomas Prenn) before moving in with him. She is strong-willed and knows what she wants, but a personal commitment is not high on her list. Nevertheless, she is distraught when Karl disappears during a protest at the Reichstag.

A while later, she gets a job as a nurse in a hospital and meets Wilhelm Sehmisch (Max von der Groeben) who takes a shine to her.

All the time, she has had to hide her Jewish upbringing, but Wilhelm - himself a Luftwaffe officer - helps her by getting her a forged Aryan identity which means she has to live under another name. Now he has a hold over her, they get married and move into an apartment and eventually have a child. But he is controlling and does not want her to work outside the home. He then moves out and stops paying for them, so Helene gets a job as a nurse.

The film charts Helene's life from childhood through to motherhood, living though some of the darkest days of the first half of the 20th century in an increasingly hostile landscape. She sacrifices her own dreams and aspirations in exchange for self-preservation to be able to navigate through life, all the time scared as to how she will survive.

A wonderful, taut drama with great character development.

Blind at Heart / Die Mittagsfrau was first screened at the Luxembourg City Film Festival in March 2024; it is scheduled to go on general release in Luxembourg in June 2024.