In 1934 Diego Padilla wins the Spanish Championship of Chess and meets a French journalist, Marianne Latour, and they fall in love. At the end of the Civil War, Marianne convinces Diego to live in France with their daughter, where shortly afterwards Diego will be accused of spying by the Nazis and imprisoned in an SS prison. In prison, Diego will try to survive in a hostile environment thanks to Colonel Maier’s passion for chess.
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Henry is a loner and a night owl. His rare skin disease has kept him under the close watch of his fiery mother, who has sheltered him his entire life. One night, a young woman’s car breaks down and Henry’s life will change forever.
During the summer of 1937, Emanuel, a young man in his early twenties, is committed to a sanatorium on the Black Sea coast for treatment of his bone tuberculosis. The treatment consists of painful spine punctures that confine him to a plaster on a stretcher-bed. Little by little, as Emanuel gets accustomed to the sadness of his new life, he discovers that inside the sanatorium there is still a life to be lived to the fullest.