Nelly & Nadine

Nelly & Nadine is the unlikely love story between two women falling in love on Christmas Eve, 1944, in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. For many years their relationship was kept a secret. 

film poster

During World War 2, in the middle of the horrors of the war camps, Nelly & Nadine begin their life-long journey. On Christmas Eve the Belgian prisoner and opera singer Nelly Mousset-Vos had been asked to sing Christmas carols in one of the French populated Ravensbrück barracks. After a couple of songs, a voice calls out from the dark: ”Sing something from Madame Butterfly!”.

Nelly hesitates, but then she sings ”Un bel di vedremo”, an aria about the waiting for a loved one. Afterwards the woman who requested the song from Madame Butterfly emerges from the darkness. She kisses Nelly and says: ”The Good Lord has been kind to us”. Her name is Nadine Hwang and in this moment Nelly and Nadine become a couple, spending as much time together as possible.

But after two moths they are separated when Nelly is transferred to a different camp. After being liberated towards the end of the war, they manage to reunite and decide to start building a life together. For many years Nelly and Nadine’s lifelong relationship was kept a secret, even to some of their closest family.

Now Nelly’s grandchild, Sylvie, has decided to open Nelly and Nadine’s unseen personal archives and uncover their remarkable story. Among the photos, love letters and film reels in the archive, there is also a diary written by Nelly. In these previously unpublished personal notes, she tells her life story including details about being in love in the middle of the camp horrors, the complicated reunification with Nadine after the war, deciding to move to Venezuela so they could live freely and coming back to Europe in the early 70’s to spend their last years in Brussels.

Nelly & Nadine is a remarkable story about war sufferings, mysteries, love against all odds, the healing power of music, well kept secrets, and the complicated family stories of concentration camp survivors, still trying to deal with the ghosts of the past.

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FESTIVAL SELECTIONS
Berlinale, 2022.

 

KEY CREATIVE CREDITS
DIRECTOR: Magnus Gertten
PRODUCER: Ove Rishøj Jensen for Auto Images, Sweden
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Caroline Troedsson
EDITORS: Jesper Osmund & Phil Jandaly
COMPOSER: Marthe Belsvik Stavrum
SOUND DESIGN: Are Åberg, Krister Johnson, Jørgen Meyer, Audun Røstad, Katarzyna Maria Wieczorek
VOICE OF NELLY: Anne Coesens
VOICE OF NADINE: Bwanga Pilipili
RESEARCH & STORY CONSULTANT: Philippe Van Meerbeeck
HEAD OF RESEARCH: Sebastian Claesson
COLOUR GRADING: Rune Felix Holm & Jakob Schaumburg
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Annelies Veas
CO-PRODUCERS: Bram Crols & Mark Daems, Associate Directors, Belgium. Ingrid Galadriel Aune Falch, Christian Aune Falch & Torstein Parelius, UpNorth Film, Norway
IN COLLABORATION WITH: Monique Marnette, ADV Productions

An AUTO IMAGES production in co-production with
ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS, UPNORTH FILM, SVT, VRT CANVAS, RTBF (Télévision belge), FILM I SKÅNE

with support from
SWEDISH FILM INSTITUTE, FLANDERS AUDIOVISUAL FUND (VAF), NORWEGIAN FILM INSTITUTE, MIDTNORSK FILMSENTER, FRITT ORD, NORDISK FILM & TV FOND, NORDVISION, CREATIVE EUROPE MEDIA

In collaboration with:
RUV TV, Iceland, Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, DR, Denmark, RTVSLO, Slovenia