Above the Drowning Sea Documentary

TJFF Review: Fleeing Austria on the Eve of World War II, Jewish Refugees Find Sanctuary in Shanghai in ‘Above the Drowning Sea’

May 10, 2018Britany Murphy

With nowhere to go and almost no one to turn to, Jewish citizens in Vienna find help from an unlikely source in Above the Drowning Sea.

On the brink of World War II, thousands of Jewish citizens are trapped in Nazi-occupied Vienna with nowhere to go. When Feng Shan Ho heard of the escalation in violence against the Jewish people, he found a way to help despite direct orders from his superior, the Ambassador to Germany, and defied his own country by issuing visas to all who applied. With Ho's aid, thousands of Jewish people were able to flee Austria before Ho himself was issued back to China in 1940.

Directed by Rene Balcer and Nicola Zavaglia, Above the Drowning Sea mixes elements of narration, interviews and visual arts to create a documentary that shouldn't be missed. Add in the brilliant narration by Julianna Margulies and paired with stories from survivors and witnesses — including a reunion of old friends decades in the making — and the result is an ode to the human spirit and hope against all odds.

Above the Drowning Sea screens Monday, May 7th and Thursday, May 10th at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 32 min.

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