Calm at Sea

October 1941. Eighteen months into France’s occupation by German troops, young Communist members of the Resistance shoot dead an officer of the German Army. In retaliation, Hitler demands the deaths of 150 Frenchmen, as ‘retribution’. The targets are to be mostly young men believed to share the assassins’ political convictions. Most of these men are taken from an internment camp for opponents of the occupation; a 35-year-old French rural administrator is ordered to select the victims. Although the parish priest appeals to their conscience and moral sensibilities, both the German military and their French helpers slavishly follow their orders … [Synopsis courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival]

Standing Tall (La Tête haute)

Sixteen-year-old Malony (Rod Paradot) is surrounded by adults both callous and supportive. On the latter side is a warm-hearted court judge Florence Blaque (Catherine Deneuve) and a devoted social worker Yann (Benoît Magimel, The Piano Teacher); on the other side stand most other authority figures. Clearly a victim of circumstances and poor parenting from his basket case of a mother (Sara Forestier, The Names of Love), he’s also a bully, a brute, and a sexually violent offender.