Written Review by John Delia
A very taught and powerful true story, My Name is Sara is opening in theaters around the nation and its gripping and heartfelt.
September 1942 World War II has raged for three years. After seizing control of Western Europe, German forces sweep East through Poland and Ukraine, pushing deep into the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany has controlled Eastern Poland near the Ukrainian Border for 15 months, conducting its planned extermination of the local Jewish population. Those few who escaped the execution squads and ghettos, sought shelter in the surrounding forests, joining partisan resistance fighters or facing survival alone. Producer’s statement.
Running through the woods at a fast pace are Jews, 14 year old Sara and her older brother Moishe from Poland, who are trying to escape a German patrol. Their parents are assumed dead by the hands of the Nazis in Poland as a part of the Holocaust. They have reached the river that separates Poland and Ukraine and must swim for their lives. Unfortunately, the refuge they were heading for will not take them and they feel defeated. Separated at Moishe’s insistence, Sara goes on alone coming to a Ukrainian wheat field where she is brought to farmers Pavlo (Eryk Lubos) and Nadia (Michalina Olszańska).
Sara will have to convince them she is not Jewish, work hard to help the Ukraine couple and her two boys, and avoid the dangers of being revealed to the Germans and Russians that occupy the nearby countryside and towns. Director Steven Oritt keeps his film compelling and dangerous as Sara, now separated from her brother calling herself by the Christian name Mania Romantic, and must hide her identity. As he builds characters the film gets very dark enhancing the risky chances Sara has to take with the town’s people, German patrols, Russian Police and the Ukrainian Resistance leaders.
The acting is superb, especially the performances of Zuzanna Surowy, Eryk Lubos, and Michalina Olszańska. It’s Surowy’s first film and yet you would think she was an A-lister with her believable interpretation of her character. Convincingly as the young Sara who has to deal with being a nanny to two children, work hard in the fields, and sleep in the barn, the film gets touching and provocative. From her we realize the pathos, fear, the determination and the will to live under the most difficult time in human history.
Both Lubos and Olszanska are perfect for the parts of the Ukraine farmers who are under pressure of the war happening all around them. As Nadia and Paylo they are also determined, but in a different way. They have to keep their farm running as the waning warring factions come to them for food and supplies, even taking their livestock and horse. It’s a true depiction of the resistance the people need in order to face the Nazi and Russian domination while playing both sides of the coin.
My Name is Sara is up there with some of the other very shocking Holocaust films that have shown what both Marxism and Nazism can do to civilizations and what seems to be playing out right now in modern times Ukraine. The film has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains violence, language, slurs and sexual situations. My rating of the film is 5 out of 5 Stars for adults 21 and up.
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Zuzanna Surowy, Eryk Lubos, Michalina Olszańska
Directed By: Steven Oritt
Genre: War, Biography, Drama, History
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.
Opening Date: July 1, 2022
Distributed by: Strand Releasing
Released in: Theaters
Zuzanna Surowy (Sara) was discovered during an open casting call across 6 cities in Poland where she was chosen from over 650 other amateur actresses. Prior to being cast in the lead role of Sara, Zuzanna had no acting experience. She still attends high school in her native region of Silesia Poland.