Feb 02 2014

“Heemwéi” – a candid look at Luxembourg’s WW2 past

Published by at 08:11 under Feierblumm

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(CS) Luxembourg independent film “Heemwéi – Eng Odyssee” hit cinemas on Wednesday – an ambitious independent project exploring Luxembourg’s WW2 history.

The film centres around soldiers Fränz and Jos, Luxembourg conscripts fighting on the German side, who decide to desert the army in the confusion of the late stages of the war. Together they embark on a journey back home.

Rather than tell a story of patriotic heroes who defy the Nazi occupiers, script writer and actor Steve Hoegener complicates the story. One of his protagonists is half-German, while the other volunteered to join the German troops and his allegiance is not always clear-cut.

On their Odyssey back to Luxembourg, Jos and Fränz not only face the German enemy but also US troops who have been trained to kill and win the fight. They meet desperate soldiers and helpful strangers – no one is spared by the war. Borders are blurred and the concept of “home” becomes more difficult to grasp as the conflict moves on.

“Heemwéi”, which translates roughly as “homesickness”, presents a grim reality and is more than a simple tale of heroes and villains. It explores a different version of Luxembourg’s past.

A more ambiguous look at the past

The Grand Duchy’s WW2 history is one of the royal family in exile, of a strong resistance movement, of the general strike and executions, deportations and forced conscription.

Luxembourg has been slow to acknowledge a more ambiguous past, which included collaborators and volunteers.

Only last year questions arose about the deportation of Jews from the country and the cooperation of Luxembourg authorities, prompting a review and analysis of documents, with the support of the government.

It is fitting that Hoegener, as a history graduate, tackled the script from a different angle. The candid look at the past is a sign of a new generation delving into the past, one that did not experience the war first hand.

Fresh addition to the genre

The film was produced by not-for-profit “Feierblumm”, which helps young and aspiring filmmakers produce their first projects. With a cast and crew of volunteers, amateurs and local professionals, it took some seven years to bring the film to the big screen, on a shoe-string budget of just 25,000 euros.

While the film cannot hide its independent and semi-professional roots, director Sacha Bachim compellingly brought the script to the screen.

For around a year, he explored the rich archive of WW2 films to seek inspiration and learn more about the genre. Elements and echoes of these have found their way into the feature, without it becoming a carbon copy of what is already out there.

While “Heemwéi” is a “traditional” WW2 epic stylistically – including emotional close-ups, flashbacks of better days and skilfully orchestrated fight scenes – it is a brand-new contribution to the catalogue, from a country that is usually overlooked in the big Hollywood productions.

“Heemwéi” is currently on limited release at Utopolis Kirchberg for one week. The film is shown with English subtitles. Screenings at other cinemas in Luxembourg are planned.

Follow the film on Facebook and find out more on heemwei.lu and feierblumm.com

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null

(CS) Luxembourg independent film “Heemwéi – Eng Odyssee” hit cinemas on Wednesday – an ambitious independent project exploring Luxembourg’s WW2 history.

The film centres around soldiers Fränz and Jos, Luxembourg conscripts fighting on the German side, who decide to desert the army in the confusion of the late stages of the war. Together they embark on a journey back home.

Rather than tell a story of patriotic heroes who defy the Nazi occupiers, script writer and actor Steve Hoegener complicates the story. One of his protagonists is half-German, while the other volunteered to join the German troops and his allegiance is not always clear-cut.

On their Odyssey back to Luxembourg, Jos and Fränz not only face the German enemy but also US troops who have been trained to kill and win the fight. They meet desperate soldiers and helpful strangers – no one is spared by the war. Borders are blurred and the concept of “home” becomes more difficult to grasp as the conflict moves on.

“Heemwéi”, which translates roughly as “homesickness”, presents a grim reality and is more than a simple tale of heroes and villains. It explores a different version of Luxembourg’s past.

A more ambiguous look at the past

The Grand Duchy’s WW2 history is one of the royal family in exile, of a strong resistance movement, of the general strike and executions, deportations and forced conscription.

Luxembourg has been slow to acknowledge a more ambiguous past, which included collaborators and volunteers.

Only last year questions arose about the deportation of Jews from the country and the cooperation of Luxembourg authorities, prompting a review and analysis of documents, with the support of the government.

It is fitting that Hoegener, as a history graduate, tackled the script from a different angle. The candid look at the past is a sign of a new generation delving into the past, one that did not experience the war first hand.

Fresh addition to the genre

The film was produced by not-for-profit “Feierblumm”, which helps young and aspiring filmmakers produce their first projects. With a cast and crew of volunteers, amateurs and local professionals, it took some seven years to bring the film to the big screen, on a shoe-string budget of just 25,000 euros.

While the film cannot hide its independent and semi-professional roots, director Sacha Bachim compellingly brought the script to the screen.

For around a year, he explored the rich archive of WW2 films to seek inspiration and learn more about the genre. Elements and echoes of these have found their way into the feature, without it becoming a carbon copy of what is already out there.

While “Heemwéi” is a “traditional” WW2 epic stylistically – including emotional close-ups, flashbacks of better days and skilfully orchestrated fight scenes – it is a brand-new contribution to the catalogue, from a country that is usually overlooked in the big Hollywood productions.

“Heemwéi” is currently on limited release at Utopolis Kirchberg for one week. The film is shown with English subtitles. Screenings at other cinemas in Luxembourg are planned.

Follow the film on Facebook and find out more on heemwei.lu and feierblumm.com

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