November 11th 2018 07:00 PM - November 11th 2018 08:30 PM

Above The Drowning Sea - Hamilton Film Festival

27 Dundurn Street North, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Above The Drowning Sea - Hamilton Film Festival


Above the Drowning Sea tells the story of the dramatic escape of European Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe to Shanghai on the eve of World War Two. As Hitler’s forces sought to expel the Jews from Europe, no other country would open its doors to the refugees. Their lives at stake, the refugees desperately looked for an escape from the coming Holocaust.


Then, a door opened on the east coast of far-away China, in Shanghai, an “open city” itself in chaos from foreign invasion and civil war. But getting there required a “golden” document to get out of Nazi Europe – a visa from China.

Above the Drowning Sea recounts the courageous intervention of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to the refugees.


Fred Remembers Dieppe 1942, 10m, Hamilton , Gary Kaulback 

Ninety-seven year old Corporal Fred Englebrecht, last survivor of the RHLI, recalls the infamous Raid on Dieppe in great detail.

Jewish refugees and the Chinese residents of Shanghai who helped them survive in China recount their experiences, terrors and deprivations as well as the remarkable friendships forged across cultures, friendships that survive to this day.

Shot in six countries over four continents, Above the Drowning Sea is a 90-minute documentary that takes you on an inspiring emotional journey across time and across the world. Truly a story that could have been ripped from today’s headlines, the film vividly celebrates the heroism and humanity of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances.


Director Biography - Nicola Zavaglia, Rene Balcer
Born in Calabria, Italy, Nicola Zavaglia grew up in Montreal’s East End. He studied film at Loyola College Communication Arts. After graduating, he went on to study film in Rome where he worked as assistant to film-makers Silvano Agosti and Marco Bellocchio, and apprenticed with directors Marco Ferreri (La Grande Bouffe) and Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco and Vanzetti), and with writer Cesare Zavattini (The Bicycle Thief).

Upon returning to Montreal, Nicola Zavaglia worked as a travelling film teacher in Quebec’s northern region of Abitibi, and as a director with Tele-Quebec and the National Film Board of Canada. Zavaglia has also taught film production, editing and screenwriting at Concordia University.

His first documentary film, A Poet in the Family (1979) tells the story of poet Vincenzo Albanese and the Italian immigrant community in Quebec. This was followed by The Blinding Light (1981), a feature documentary on religion and war shot in Lebanon. Among his films produced for the NFB are L’Espoir Violent (A Violent Hope) and Mediterraneo Sempre.

Zavaglia recently founded his own company; Time & Rhythm Cinema’s first production The Journey to Ithaca, through a series of visits with old school friends and professors, reflects on the vital role a good teacher plays in one’s life journey.

Zavaglia is presently working on The Patient Labyrinth, a film essay on the art of the portrait in painting, and on The Science of Farewells, a road trip through Calabria with actor Nick Mancuso.

René Balcer is well known as the showrunner, head writer and executive producer of the iconic television series Law & Order, and as the co-creator and showrunner of its hit spin-off series Law & Order Criminal Intent. In addition, he created the international hit series Jo starring Jean Reno.

He has won an Emmy, the Peabody Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and four Edgar Awards for his television work. René has also written and produced award-winning documentaries on art and China. Earlier in his career, he was a front-line cameraman during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and a journalist in Montréal.

His writing on social issues has been recognized with awards from Planned Parenthood, Alliance for Justice, the American Bar Association and other organizations.

René has lectured widely about writing, art and the duties of artists in free societies, notably at Harvard, Columbia, NYU, UPenn, the Sorbonne (Paris), the Central Academy of Fine Art (Beijing), and the Journalists Club (Moscow).



Hamilton Film Festival

The 14th annual Hamilton Film Festival is Hamilton's largest and longest running film festivals with roots that go back 20 years! ​ We have screened over 1000 films, 700 of them Canadian Films! Filmmakers, travel to our event, from all over the world. We connect filmmakers and give them another voice. ​We celebrate the art of movie making from concept to completion. From the budding filmmaker to the pro, we are always working to move the film industry in Hamilton a little further each year! The event is a leader in the local film community, bringing industry development and quality networking opportunities throughout the year. The Canadian Film Market, Lights Camera Hamilton, Southern Ontario Film Festival Group and Kids Can Film are all initiatives of the Hamilton Film Festival.

Ticket Information

Please note that your tickets will be email to you and attached as a PDF upon successfully registering for this event. In the event that you have either not received your confirmation email, cannot find the confirmation email, or used an incorrect email address, please contact the organizer.

All ticket holders will receive an email notification reminder 24-48 hours prior to the event's start date (this does not imply particular sessions, just the event). Your tickets will also be attached to this email.

It's encouraged to save your tickets to your phone by downloading them or taking a screenshot, however you may also print your tickets before arriving to the event.