CROSSING EUROPE 2022: NELLY & NADINE from Magnus Gertten

Filmstill from a black and white newsreel filmed in April 1945, showing Nadine Hwang as one of the survivors that arrived in Malmö

After HARBOUR OF HOPE, EVERY FACE HAS A NAME was Magnus Gertten's second film about the arrival of survivors of German concentration camps in the Swedish port of Malmö in April 1945. Based on footage Gertten had found in archives, he researched the survivors' stories to save them from oblivion. When he showed EVERY FACE HAS A NAME in Paris in 2016, a woman in the audience came forward and said: "I can tell something about the Chinese woman in the film."

In a screening room, the film project NELLY & NADINE begins. As in Woody Allen's THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, Sylvie Bianchi rises from the auditorium to the screen and Sylvie's own story begins to change.

A documentary film is more than an observation of reality. It is part of reality, changes it, becomes a mediator and sometimes a catalyst of a development that has been underway for a long time.

Filmstill showing Sylvie Bianchi looking at one of the old pictures in the attic

Sylvie Bianchi and her family have long kept the diary entries of her grandmother Nelly Mousset-Vos in the attic. Since her grandmother's death, Sylvie has not dared touch the legacy. It is only through the film project that she finds the strength to read the diaries.

The story of the love between the singer Nelly Mousset-Vos and Nadine Hwang, the daughter of a Chinese ambassador, unfolds like a flower. It begins under the Nazi regime of terror, is able to blossom for 20 years in Venezuela, and ends in separate cemeteries in Brussels.

Filmstill, black and white, showing Nelly and Nadine walking at the beach

NELLY & NADINE is an extraordinary documentary. Magnus Gertten and his editor Jesper Osmund succeed in skillfully interweaving the many layers of time and putting the many facets of the love affair between the two women in perspective: the unlikely development of a deep love under the cruel conditions in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, the impossibility of openly articulating lesbian love even after the war, and the granddaughter's confrontation with her grandmother's story, which is also her own. NELLY AND NADINE is not only a touching love film but at the same time a family therapy and a testimony of how queer life can nevertheless exist in a society that has no place for it in its narrative.

Photo Jesper Osmund
Co-author and cutter Jesper Osmund - Crossing Europe Filmfestival Linz 2022