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Hanna’s Sleeping Dogs

(Hannas schlafende Hunde)
Austria/Germany 2016. Dir: Andreas Gruber. 120 min. DCP

VANCOUVER PREMIERE | The sleeping dogs of family history awake — and three generations of women face the fallout — in the latest from Austrian writer-director Andreas Gruber. Based on an autobiographical novel by Elisabeth Escher, the film is set in the 1960s in a provincial Austrian town, where nine-year-old Johanna is growing up a good Catholic girl. When Johanna’s grandmother reveals a big secret — the family is actually Jewish — it distresses Johanna’s mother and unsettles some in the community. Johanna, however, decides to embrace, not hide, her heritage, and reinvents herself as “Hanna.” Gruber’s best-known film, 1994’s The Quality of Mercy, also dealt in a forthright manner with Austria’s wartime past. Hanna’s Sleeping Dogs, a German-Austrian co-production, won the best screenplay award at this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival. In German with English subtitles.