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Simon and the Oaks

Director: Lisa Ohlin

Set in the turbulent years between 1939 and 1952, director Lisa Ohlin's adaptation of Marianne Fredriksson's Swedish bestseller portrays the Jewish experience in Sweden during World War II from the perspective of two families who gradually come together during one of the darkest periods of the 20th century. The intellectually gifted son of working-class parents in Gothenburg, young Simon convinces his parents to let him attend an elite grammar school despite their fears that he will grow arrogant and aloof. Later, at school, Simon meets Isak. Having recently fled Germany during the Nazi uprising, Isak's father Ruben (Jan Josef Liefers) has found success as a bookseller. When Simon stumbles upon Ruben's vast collection of art, music, and books, he's inspired to research his own family history. Meanwhile, Isak, who longs to work with his hands, begins building boats with Simon's father, and eventually moves in with the family when his home life becomes unstable. In time, as all of Europe is devastated by war, Simon and Isak's families forge a powerful bond that helps everyone to endure, even when it seems as if all hope is lost.

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