Oskar and Lilli, Where No One Knows Us
NO LONGER RENTABLE
courtesy of Les Films du Losange.
The many films concerning the European refugee crisis almost constitute a sub-genre – from Fire At Sea to Styx (CIFF 2019) all have something to teach us about this unfathomably troublesome issue. Oskar and Lilli, Where No One Knows Us presents another way of looking. It is a detailed portrayal of the life of two Chechen children, settled in Vienna but their welcome outstayed, and suddenly separated from their mother in the most nightmarish way imaginable. Oskar (8) and Lilli (13) then have to fend for themselves, very briefly on the run then in a home for refugees and eventually, themselves separated, with well-meaning foster parents. All the while yearning to reconnect with their mother, they eventually find a way of tracking her down.
The film is as much a mesmerising character study as an ‘issue’ film, with the two young leads putting in memorable performances. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into young lives scarred by conflict but buoyed by determination and hope.
Oskar and Lilli, Where No One Knows Us has won eight international film festival awards, including the Max Ophüls Award Audience Award Feature Film at the 2020 Max Ophüls Festival, the Best Film prize at the 2020 Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People and the Best Film for the Students Jury at the Taormina International Film Festival 2020.
‘This is an astounding study, not just of refugee children who are neglected by an uncaring system, but of these 2 specific characters. They suffer the injustices brought by their situation, but they also resist. Oskar and Lilli offers the face and heart of young refugees, and we need a lot more of that in today’s society. Surely one of the films of the year.’ - Phil Butland, CinePhil.
‘Beautifully crafted, this film is a great success… The two characters who give their names to the film are played by two formidable young actors. Both the young girl and the very young little boy deliver performances of rare depth.’ - Thomas Chapelle, abusdecine.com
‘The children’s hope that they will be reunited with their mother is nourished by their love for each other and challenges all bureaucratic obstacles with passion and poetry. A bitter-sweet odyssey about the many ways of perceiving the world around you in order to survive.’ - Cineuropa.
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