I love the arts and creativity. My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for film, theatre, comedy and improv shows. Now I'm a professional creative content producer, mostly on digital platforms.
Published October 9th 2021
A true tale of survival and defiance
Noah Schnapp is Jo, a young shepherd whose life is about to change
In a small town, virtually untouched by the second world war, the village outcast, widow Horcada (Anjelica Huston) has a big secret. Together with her son in law Benjamin (Frederick Schmidt), she is helping smuggle Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied France to the safety of Spain. It's 1943, and while their small village in the picturesque French Pyrenees hasn't seen physical signs of Nazi occupation, they're aware of the fascist's stronghold over the north of France.
Benjamin (Frederick Schmidt) bravely risks his own life to save Jewish children
Benjamin is a Jewish man who was separated from his daughter during his own escape. While smuggling children out of France, he waits patiently in the Pyrenees, risking his own freedom in the hope his daughter Anya will be one of the escapees he helps in future.
Inspired by a true story, Waiting for Anya is a tale of how small acts of quiet rebellion can make a big difference. The main protagonist, Jo (Noah Schnapp) goes from living a relatively simple life of being the son of a shepherd, to aiding the smugglers in resisting the Nazis. In this coming-of-age film, Jo must grow up very fast. When German troops move into town, Jo rises to the challenge and shows great bravery for a young man.
Jo and the widow Horcada (Anjelica Huston) work together to defy the fascists
As narratives go, it is quite an engaging and tense drama. Filmgoers are so used to seeing Nazis portrayed as one dimensional 'bad guys' and the allies as morally superior. This film turns that on its head with two-dimensional characters that have both good and bad qualities. One of the Nazis, known as 'The Corporal', is conflicted about his role in the war. Played beautifully by Thomas Kretschmann, The Corporal befriends Jo and shows kindness to many of the villagers. While Jo's father, Gilles Marini is a drunk who shows violence toward his family and jeopardises their safety.
This is one of those movies that definitely benefits from viewing on the big screen. You're treated to oodles of sweeping shots of picture postcard-perfect scenery that will make you want to travel to the French Pyrenees. The acting is solid, and roles are well cast. Some may find the pace slow compared with Hollywood's 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am' style. This is a movie that gives you time to think and contemplate how you would react if put in the same scenario.
Waiting for Anya is in Select Cinemas 14 October, check out the list below for your nearest location.
NSW The Ritz - Randwick
VICTORIA Cloud 9 Cinema - Bright Wallis Mildura
Star Cinema, Launceston
Regal Twin Graceville
Wallis Mount Barker
Wallis Capri Theatre
Wallis Victor Harbour
Wallis Mt Gambier
Wallis Odeon Semaphore
Hoyts Tea Tree Plaza
DIRECTED BY: Ben Cookson
STARRING: Noah Schnapp, Jean Reno, Thomas Kretschmann, Frederick Schmidt and Anjelica Huston