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LEA

Germany / Slovakia, 1996 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Ivan Fila

Winner of a clutch of international awards, Lea is a film that subverts its own grim premise. Lea witnesses her father murder her mother. Struck dumb by the shock, she is transferred to an adoptive home. When she is 21, a German, Strehlo, bids for her hand in marriage; she reminds him of his late wife. Lea is taken from Slovakia to Strehlow's house at the edge of the Bavarian forest. She withdraws into a world of dreams and visions, in which her mother is still alive.

Only one conclusion seems possible. Laugh­ter is banished from this household. Strehlow is a dour tyrant intent upon breaking her will; his violent outbursts echo her father's. He hunts her down every time she escapes, confiscates her letters and stamps, penetrates her imaginary life every way he can.

Strehlow finds Lea's poems in a ruin close to their house. As he learns the reason for her silence, his own long-buried tragedies come to light. They are linked to a common past; slowly they grope towards a new language of healing and rekindled zest for life. Ivan Fila's feature debut is a moody and haunting fable.

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