Rachel moves to Vienna to begin a new job at the International Atomic Energy Agency. While in Austria she hopes to rediscover her family’s past and further pursue her dreams of travel. During this time of exploration, she comes to realize that the Holocaust is still not an easy issue for Austrians to acknowledge, especially when the infamous WWII Flak Towers ominously loom over the city. The Austrian insistence to keep these World War II remnants intact belies a deeper national emotion.
As refugees from war-torn Syria descend upon central Europe, the rise of the far-right political party, the FPÖ, inheritor of Hitler’s xenophobic rhetoric, grows within Austria.
Rachel’s latent panic attacks overtake her senses. She sees her dead great-grandmother, killed in a concentration camp, walking in a crowd. She hears the crunch of Gestapo boots following her as she walks to work.
Rachel is only able to face her fears after befriending Yitzhak, a former Ethiopian refugee.
EUROPACIFIC FILMS, LLC presents REFUGE
Produced by MARIAN GREEN • MICHAEL HOFSTEIN • CLEMENS DANZER • SARA LOGAN HOFSTEIN
Music by DAVID WILDE • Sound Design by TREVOR JOLLY •
Edited by GABRIEL KAUNITZ
Production Designer GEORG MARIA PROCK
Director of Photography MICHAEL HOFSTEIN
Written by MICHAEL HOFSTEIN & SARA LOGAN HOFSTEIN
Directed by SARA LOGAN HOFSTEIN
Rachel (Katharina Sporrer), a Jewish-American woman who works for the IAEA in Vienna, Austria, is sad being away from her family, yet excited to be living in a new country. Surrounded by the daily reminders of Austria’s Holocaust involvement, she delves into her family’s roots and discovers her family’s history intertwined with the Holocaust. Rachel’s life, enmeshed with echoes of the past, is soon overtaken by the present as the Arab refugee crisis grows. With the Austrian far-right political movement gaining power, Rachel’s inner fears are born out as anti refugee statements begin to circulate.
Yitzhak (David Wurawa), an Ethiopian refugee and now a professor at the University of Vienna, emigrated to Austria in the early 1990’s to escape the rise of religious persecution. More than 25 years later, he has developed a deep love for his adopted Austria yet, as an African, he often experiences racism. He innately understands Rachel’s fears yet with his unique outlook as a former refugee, he maintains a positive attitude, believing that Austrians are a righteous people who, with guidance, will not repeat their past mistakes.
Phillipa (Susanne Gschwendtner), a British physicist working as a research executive for the IAEA in Vienna, understands the necessity for diplomacy and keeping her staff involved. Both a scientist and a business executive, she works hard and expects those around her to do the same, although she shows her humanity at unexpected moments.