*“Where Hands Touch” is a period piece starring Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games, Hate You Give) set in Nazi Germany during World War II. The film is the work of writer and director Amma Asante who has a passion for delivering stories about the African diaspora that haven’t been seen before.
In Nazi Germany during World War II there were 25,000 people of color, many of whom were killed by their fellow Germans.
Where Hands Touch begins in 1944 as 16-year-old Leyna (Stenberg) – born to a German mother Kerstin (Abbie Cornish) and a French African solider – hides under the floorboards in her home while Nazi soldiers search for Jews. With Leyna’s safety in jeopardy, because children like her are rare and unwelcomed, the family, including Leyna’s full German younger brother, flee Rhineland to Berlin where they hope to become “invisible.” There Leyna meets the same hostility, even as she tries to be a “good German girl.”
An accidental encounter with Lutz (George MacKay), the son of an SS officer (Christopher Eccleston) who is training to join the war and wears the uniform of the Hitler Youth, develops into a friendship that blossoms into romance even though both could be killed for their association.
Born in the UK, filmmaker Asante is known for creating romance period pieces that examine the complex structures of blackness and biracial identities in Europe. This film initially was intended to be her second film, but she had a hard time getting it made because many felt the subject matter was too big for the young filmmaker.
Following on the success of her breakout 2013 film “Belle,” which portrays an interracial romance between a biracial black woman who is the daughter of a British Royal Naval officer and a slave, that is moved to London to live with family. The young woman eventually develops a relationship with a white lawyer as she helps abolitionists with an insurance case involving slaves killed by the captain of a ship in 1783. Asante said the path to making When Hands Touch became easier, but not without sacrificing her directing fee in order to see the film financed for completion.
“Where Hands Touch” is in theatres now.
This story was originally published on Sept. 12