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A moment with Cate Shortland

Ed Gibbs spoke to Cate Shortland, director of Lore about her new film.

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Acclaimed filmmaker Cate Shortland reveals the challenges behind Lore: her long-awaited return to the world of film.

EIGHT YEARS after storming the AFIs with her debut feature, Somersault, Cate Shortland's much-anticipated follow-up, Lore, has screened to great acclaim at the Sydney Film Festival.

Set amidst the chaotic aftermath of World War II – and sharing a similarly gentle and poetic sensibility to its predecessor – Lore has been hailed by The Hollywood Reporter as a “lyrical, deeply affecting study into a rarely seen legacy of the Holocaust.” The industry bible praised its “ethereal” qualities, comparing its breakout performance from first-timer Saskia Rosendahl to the career-defining turn of Somersault's Abbie Cornish.

The film – an Australian-British-German co-production, adapted from Rachel Sciffert's novel The Dark Room – controversially tracks the fortunes of five German siblings, led by Lore (Rosendahl), who are left to fend for themselves when their Nazi parents are taken away by the allies. Along the 800-kilometre trek to their grandparents' home, Lore meets a Jewish boy, who aids their passage. An unlikely attraction soon develops.

Following the film's sold-out premiere this week, Shortland sat down to discuss her new feature. In our exclusive video interview, she confesses to mixed feelings regarding its subject matter, joy at finding a new star (in Rosendahl, who she initially dismissed as “too beautiful”), and a newfound contentment, surrounded by family on set.

Lore – which has been sold to the US – will go head to head this Sunday with Dead Europe, the only other local film running in official competition. Another literary adaptation, it is directed by Shortland's husband Tony Krawitz. The winner is set to pocket $60,000 in prize money.

The 59th Sydney Film Festival finishes up this Sunday, June 17, with the winner of the official competition due to be announced at 1pm AEST. The festival officially closes with the Sundance hit Safety Not Guaranteed screening at 8pm.