In Nazi occupied Holland, two police men and best friends find themselves on opposite sides of the war.
Recognition & Awards
Finalist, Forest City Film Festival Screenplay Competition (2019)
Finalist, Pitch Now Screenplay Competition (2019)
Best Screenplay Nominee, Top Indie Film Awards (2018)
Semi-Finalist Filmmatic Screenplay Awards (2018)
Official Selection, Northeast Filmmakers Lab (2018)
Visit Unveil Studios for more information about the film's development
When Holland falls to the Nazis in May of 1940 after a brief but surprising resistance, Machiel and Sophia van Leeuwen prepare for a long and difficult occupation in a war Holland never dreamed it would enter. Along with their 12-year-old daughter Johanna, they are soon faced with impossible decisions: to choose between resistance and passivity, family and friendship and whether or not the sincere faith they’ve observed with its quiet traditions might now require unthinkable violence.
The day after the Prime Minister of Holland’s nation-wide radio address assured the Dutch that Hitler’s army would not invade the Netherlands because of its declared neutrality, the Nazis invade in a blitz.
MACHIEL VAN LEEUWEN, a policeman and reserve soldier in Delft, sees the invasion first hand, as he rides his bike on an otherwise pleasant and typical May morning. The Nazis fall fast and furiously from the sky, securing bridges and waterways before the Dutch can release their famous dykes and flood the Germans out.
Only halfway to the station, MACHIEL races home to warn his wife SOPHIA and daughter JOHANNA that the very thing the nation had wrung its hands over for months has finally occurred. Saying goodbye he speeds to the reserve barracks where he meets his best friend and fellow police officer JAN DE GROOT.
Other reservists show up in pyjamas, only to discover that the weapons available to them are from the last war. And yet the Dutch, with brave and patriotic men like JAN and MACHIEL, put up a surprising resistance for a few days. The resistance is snuffed out when the Germans level the city of Rotterdam with an airstrike that decimates the city and brings the Dutch to their knees. SOPHIA and JOHANNA can see the flames of Rotterdam from their upstairs window and pray for survivors. Little do they know that their beloved MACHIEL is in the centre of the fury helping to put out the fires as the port city burns. The horrors he witnesses in Rotterdam keep MACHIEL silent for weeks when he finally returns home, battered, tormented and mute.
Life, in some ways, soon returns to normal rhythms for MACHIEL and his family. The police force MACHIEL belongs to is folded under the Nazi’s oversight and continues to enforce law and order. JOHANNA attends school. SOPHIA is recruited back to work by her younger brother PETER, despite their strained relationship, because he needs someone that he can trust at his downtown store.
But under the surface nothing is the same. Food begins to be rationed. Curfews are enforced. The curriculum at JOHANNA’s school shifts as history is rewritten and certain books are removed. Throughout their neighbourhood flags showing allegiance to Hitler are raised over households. The yellow David Star starts to appear and Jews are targeted, sent away on trains.
Quietly, throughout Holland, people begin to resist the German occupation choosing to subtly defy their occupiers. PETER, along with other men who haven’t sat in a pew for more than a decade, mysteriously begins to attend church again.
On the contraband radio PETER gives to her—along with rare and costly items like coffee, sardines and chocolate—SOPHIA takes courage from the radio addresses the exiled QUEEN WILHEMENA gives from across the Channel in Britain where she escaped, calling her people to stand against the Germans. Slowly SOPHIA learns that PETER deftly organizes aspects of the resistance from his shop.
When an opportunity to seize an SS warehouse with ammunition and other supplies arises, PETER needs someone he can trust and he conscripts MACHIEL to help to pull off a risky robbery, an act that forces MACHIEL into hiding.
Even as MACHIEL is pulled to side with the Allies, JAN is pulled in the opposite direction, convinced that the British will lose the war. Like many Dutch, JAN is sympathetic to the culture and aspirations of his German cousins. Recruited by the SS commander to be a liaison between the Dutch and German police forces, JAN is assigned to investigate the warehouse robbery and soon discovers MACHIEL is a likely suspect.
Across the country neighbours turn on neighbours, snitching on people who in other times were friends. Vigilantes fight back by attacking known collaborators to send a message that betrayal of countrymen is a worse treachery than working for the resistance. With MACHIEL in hiding, SOPHIA and JOHANNA must fend for themselves and stave off the increasingly intimidating MR. DE LANGE, their neighbour and Nazi sympathizer who suspects their involvement in the Dutch underground.
As the tension ratchets up and the underground acts more boldly, the blowback against the resistance increases and hundreds of members of the Dutch underground are arrested and executed. Pressure on JAN to arrest and execute the warehouse thieves only intensifies forcing PETER to look for a way to get SOPHIA and JOHANNA out of Delft before JAN implicates the family in the treasonous crime.
With every reason to believe the Germans will win the war, MACHIEL and SOPHIA must decide between violently opposing the enemy that threatens to change their nation forever and their beloved friend who now holds the power to send them on a train with other traitors to the ovens at the Nazi death camp Mauthausen.
In the stakes of World War and the occupation, it is more than a question of whether their lifelong friendship with JAN can survive. The quiet, humble faith that SOPHIA and MACHIEL practice now seems to require violence to stop the forces that oppose it. Can they survive JAN and the new loyalties he embraces?