A Swedish refugee camp doctor gives Holocaust survivor Miklós six months to live. But the young man refuses to die before meeting the love of his life. He sends letters to 117 Hungarian women in sex-segregated camps throughout Sweden. The response of 19-year-old Lilli captures his heart and his imagination. Fever at Dawn, the story of director Péter Gárdos’s parents’ courtship through correspondence and rare visits, takes place both in 1945 Sweden, as winter approaches, and in present-day Jerusalem. The film is based on his novel of the same name. Terrific performances by a primarily Hungarian cast (the mature Lilli is portrayed by Israeli doyenne Gila Almagor) capture the range of refugee experiences. The Hungarian Jews portrayed here emerge from concentration camps and are sent from Germany to Sweden as part of the famous “White Bus” rescue operation to alleviate a variety of diseases, including tuberculosis, much like the people profiled in Magnus Gertten’s documentary Every Face Has a Name (SFJFF 2015). Crisp cinematography, both in color and in black-and-white, creates indelible images of heartbreak and hope. A strong musical score by award-winning composer Atti Pacsay reflects the conflicting emotions of the often overlooked years immediately following the end of World War II.
—Sara L. Rubin