8:00 PM, 10th November, 2001
Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, Train of Life tells the story of a Jewish village in Central Europe during World War II. Faced with the prospect of being deported by the Nazis, one resident has a brilliant idea: why not deport themselves before the Nazis do?
The villagers manage to acquire a train and the local tailors make up some Nazi uniforms. The village is then herded into the boxcars (with a few locals posing as Nazi soldiers) and they set off on the journey they hope will take them to Russia, and ultimately to Palestine.
This film has been described as a cross between Life is Beautiful and "Hogan's Heroes", with parts of "Fiddler on the Roof" thrown in. It is very much an ensemble film, with a selection of wonderfully depicted characters, even down to the local Rabbi. This is a gentle comedy that manages to maintain a balance between providing an entertaining portrayal of human nature, while also acknowledging the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany.
9:43 PM, 10th November, 2001
If you think the Second World War was brutal and horrible until one day it ended and then all was well, watch The Truce. This is a war movie with a difference; it begins where so many others end - with the 'liberation' of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It's clear liberation brought to an end the most horrific kind of butchery imaginable. But it's also clear, that for Primo Levi (John Turturro) and so many other survivors, it was the beginning of a very long and difficult journey home.
The Truce follows Primo on this journey, which meanders from Poland to the USSR to Germany and, finally, Italy. The most interesting and a very fascinating aspect of this film is how low key and matter-of-fact it is in showing this long journey. It is amazing to watch Primo walk quietly from one scene to the next, passive as everything swirls around him. But he isn't passive, as he eventually demonstrates.
This is a war story with little violence and virtually no sentimentality. If you're not ready for it, you might find The Truce passing before your eyes without making much of an impact. It doesn't smack you in the face with a powerful message, but instead works its way inside you more gradually. We watch Primo and his fellow travellers through this trek, we realise how they survived Auschwitz. This is a very moving and wonderfully told story, a must see for anyone. If that includes you, then make sure you come along.