×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Amandla Stenberg Was Shooting ‘Where Hands Touch’ on Election Day: ‘It Felt Timely’

Filmmaker Amma Asante and actors Abbie Cornish and Amandla Stenberg dropped by the Variety Studio presented by AT&T at the Toronto Film Festival to talk about their new movie, “Where Hands Touch.”

The film tells the story of Leyna (Stenberg), a young girl coming of age in World War II Germany. Cornish plays her mother, desperate to protect her from the world, and George MacKay also stars as a Hitler Youth who finds himself drawn to her.

Though set more than 50 years ago, the movie resonates with timely themes, and Stenberg detailed one day of shooting that was particularly unnerving. In the scene, Leyna and her mother are stopped by an SS officer who berates them, saying, “how Leyna is a blemish to the nation, how she should be ashamed of herself for having created a Negro child.”

As it turned out, they were filming at the same time as the 2016 presidential election was taking place. “In the midst of filming this scene, we were waiting on the result of the election. We didn’t know yet who was going to be president,” reveals Stenberg. “It felt timely…the fact that there even was a candidate like Donald Trump.”

She continued, “And then when we were in between scenes on a little bit of a break, this one actor who was dressed in an SS soldier’s uniform took out his phone and he checked the news and he saw who had been elected and he said, ‘Oh. Trump is president.’ The eeriness of knowing what that would mean, anticipating it even then, and seeing those words come out of his mouth while he was wearing that uniform and we were filming that scene…it was terrifying.”

Asante added, “I think what we understood really clearly in that moment is how language can be used to make the abnormal normal. And how the issues and the atrocities and the horrors that led to the Holocaust began with a use of language.”

More Film

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

  • The Letter

    IDFA: Kenyan Documentary ‘The Letter’ Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given access to the trailer for Kenyan documentary “The Letter,” by producer-director duo Christopher King and Maia Lekow, which world premieres Nov. 23 at IDFA. The film follows a young man who travels to his grandmother’s rural home when he learns she’s been accused of witchcraft. He soon discovers that the threatening letter she [...]

  • Warner Bros. Box Office

    With 'Good Liar' and 'Doctor Sleep,' Warner Bros.' Box Office Misfortunes Mount

    When Warner Bros. was crafting its 2019 slate, the studio took pains to offer more than just superhero movies. To be sure, there were lots of masked vigilantes too, but more than any of its big studio brethren, Warner Bros. was willing to take a risk on the kinds of thrillers, adult dramas, coming-of-age stories, [...]

  • Constance Wu

    Will Constance Wu Ever Watch 'Hustlers'?

    Despite her leading role, Constance Wu has never seen “Hustlers” and, spoiler alert, it’s very unlikely that she will. Wu explained why she doesn’t want to watch the film to Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” “This is crazy,” Kaling said in the beginning of the interview. “I [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    'Ford v Ferrari' Outmatches 'Charlie's Angels' at International Box Office

    Disney and 20th Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari” sped ahead of fellow new release, Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels,” at the international box office. Director James Mangold’s racing drama collected $21.4 million from 41 foreign markets, representing 67% of its overseas rollout. “Ford v Ferrari” also kicked off with $31 million in North America, bringing its global [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content