The movie tells two stories, the first being the story of a journalist, Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) researching for an article about the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942. In Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War, French police arrested tens of thousands of French Jews to be sent off to various Nazi camps. As Julia delves deeper into the history she discovers her own personal connections to the events of 1942.
The second story is about Sarah (Mélusine Mayance), a ten-year-old girl living in Paris in 1942. Her family is rounded up by the police, and in desperation she hides her younger brother in the closet. As Sarah and her parents are moved to a camp, she realizes she must escape to free her brother. Both stories unfold as Sarah desperately tries to deal with the trauma of what she’s done and the events around her, and Julia tries to reconcile the awful history of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup with her own life.
Our TMPA jury was enamored with the film, even though the subject matter is heavy and difficult to process. In a rare unanimous vote they elected to give Sarah’s Key the Award. The gripping nature of the story engaged them while it educated them about this forgotten piece of history. The personal stories of Julia and Sarah give a face to the historical events. Strong period details combined with beautiful cinematography provide an engrossing mise en scène that allowed the jury to fully experience the story. They also found it fascinating how one story set in motion by a small girl, branched out and touched so many people’s lives, even decades into the future. For all these reasons, and more, we are enthusiastic to announce Sarah’s Key’s receipt of the Truly Moving Picture Award! Check out the trailer below.