Nelly & Nadine

Director Magnus Gertten expected to attend

Sylvie Bianchi was too overcome with sad memories to mine the boxes of her beloved grandmother’s archives tucked away in the attic of her farmhouse, until a chance meeting with director Magnus Gerrten. Upon seeing his Every Face Has a Name, a 2015 documentary that attempts to reconstruct the identities of anonymous survivors debarking from a Swedish port, Bianchi offers personal knowledge of one of the most enigmatic faces in the film, Nadine Hwang. Bianchi’s grandmother, Nelly Mousset-Vos, was a French opera singer. While on tour, she was arrested in 1943 and charged with espionage for her involvement with the resistance. Nelly was imprisoned at Ravensbrück, the largest all-women’s camp housing mostly political prisoners. That Christmas Eve she gives a rousing concert of holiday songs and takes one special request from a member of the audience: “Un bel di vedremo” from Madame Butterfly. So begins her lifelong romance with Nadine Hwang—the daughter of the Chinese ambassador to Spain—that will endure until her death in 1972. From a treasure trove of glorious photographs, 8mm film footage, and detailed diaries, Sylvie (who was kept in the dark about the true nature of her grandmother’s relationship during her childhood) reconstructs the romance between Nelly and Nadine, discovering an enduring tale of agonizing loss, devotion and the strength of true love.

Sponsored by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation


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San Francisco Pass

$325 Members / $350 General Public

The San Francisco Pass offers complete access to all SFJFF43 screenings and events at the Castro Theatre and Vogue Theater from July 20–30, 2023. Includes admission to the Opening Night Party on July 20 at The Green Room.