Nusja dhe shtetrrethimi | © Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Viennale


Pan-European Partisan Film

October 25 – December 4, 2019 
The Austrian Film Museum, Augustinerstraße 1, 1010 Vienna
Phone: 0043 (0)1 533 70 54 •

In the aftermath of World War II, several (especially newly formed) European states started reconstructing and reimagining their identities and recent histories through a vast production of films that celebrated and commemorated their guerrilla struggles against fascism. These films ranged in scope and ambition from intimate psychological dramas to overblown military spectacles, from elegiac remembrances to pure pulp fiction. Particularly in former socialist federations of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, they performed a significant role identical to the one the American western played in constructing and whitewashing United States of America’s sense of history. Similar to westerns in Hollywood, partisan films were for a long time the major defining genre of socialist film industry. Much like westerns, partisan films were proclaimed dead a long time ago: both genres were swept aside by contemporary approaches to historiography, which – at least seemingly – evolve our sense of history through deconstructing ideological simplifications of the past. Both genres produced and reinforced myths about the formation of a community, and both performed their ideological operations on the backdrop of a concrete “landscape in turmoil” that needs to be either “civilized” (the western) or liberated (partisan films). Moreover, in the late 60ies and early 70ies, both genres reinvented themselves and underwent a political revision that ended the “classical period”, steering the western away from its racist, genocidal roots and slightly more towards liberalism, and complicating the partisan narrative by pointing out that not everything was so simple under the overbearing blood-red ideological umbrella.

There is no – and there can’t be any – single all-encompassing definition of partisan film as a genre, much like the actual armed resistance against fascism took many different shapes in various locations and under various regimes of occupation and levels of oppression. It is also apparent that contrary to popular belief Eastern Europe was not the sole producer of partisan films, albeit it remains by far the most prolific. Italy and France produced some of the finest examples of partisan cinema (some of which we have been considering as neo-realist masterpieces alone), and even though the armed populace did not call themselves “partisans”, countries like Denmark or Norway celebrated the same stories of armed grassroots resistance.

Hence, these films are also part of our retrospective: not only in the spirit of solidarity that these films advocate for, but to make evident the international dimension of this cinematic production. Can we consider the partisan film phenomenon as the first genuine example of modern (as in post-war) pan-European cinema: a set of narrative tropes, themes and devices linked by a shared historical experience and aimed at what should become, decades later, a unified market for values, beliefs and entertainment product?

And a popular product the partisan film was indeed. Yet despite being hugely successful in their domestic markets and very often cinematically accomplished, many examples of the partisan films never traveled abroad, and most film prints today remain locked up and in dire need of preservation in various national film archives.

Eighty years after the commencement of the war that spawned the genre of partisan cinema, we find ourselves sliding towards stupefaction and revisionism of basic civilizational values we have been taking for granted in the decades following World War 2 and the victory over fascism. Ideas of isolationism, nationalism and populism have invaded the public and (social) media discourse across the European Union, and chauvinistic discourses previously considered extremist are slowly but steadily inching their way towards widespread legitimacy. Time is therefore ripe to (re)discover the rich cinematic legacy of the partisan film, in all its diversity, and in rare archival prints. In this, we celebrate these films as artworks and as historical records of an era where, across the divisions and the barbed wire separating the continent, one could still call a spade a spade, and a fascist by their name.  (Michael Loebenstein, Jurij Meden)

A Retrospective by Viennale and Austrian Film Museum.


1 homme de trop (Shock Troops), Costa-Gavras, France/Italy, 1967

Akcja pod Arsenałem (Operation Arsenal), Jan Łomnicki, Poland, 1978

Atentát (Assassination), Jiří Sequens, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), 1965

Balada o trobenti in oblaku (The Ballad of the Trumpet and the Cloud), France Štiglic, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 1961

La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails), René Clément, France, 1946

Bitka na Neretvi (The Battle of Neretva), Veljko Bulajić, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 1969

Blekitny krzyz (Men of Blue Cross), Andrzej Munk, Poland, 1955

Corbari, Valentino Orsini, Italy, 1970

Čerez kladbišče (Through the Graveyard), Viktor Turov, Soviet Union (Belarus), 1964

Diverzanti (Demolition Squad), Hajrudin Krvavac, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 1967

Dolina miru (Valley of Peace), France Štiglic, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 1956

Am Galgen hängt die Liebe (Twenty Brave Men), Edwin Zbonek, Germany, 1960

Hajka (Manhunt), Živojin Pavlović, Yugoslavia (Serbia), 1977

Idi i smotri (Come and See), Elem Klimov, Soviet Union (Belarus), 1985

Kad čuješ zvona (When You Hear the Bells), Antun Vrdoljak, Yugoslavia (Croatia), 1969

Kanal, Andrzej Wajda, Poland, 1957

Kapitán Dabač (Captain Dabač), Pal’o Bielik, Czechoslovakia (Slovakia), 1959

Kozara, Veljko Bulajić, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 1962

Makedonski del od peklot (Macedonian Part of Hell), Vatroslav Mimica, Yugoslavia (Macedonia), 1971

Molodaja gvardija (The Young Guard), Sergej Gerasimov, Soviet Union (Russia) 1948

Muži bez křídel (Man without Wings), František Čap, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), 1946

Nasvidenje v naslednji vojni (Farewell until the Next War), Živojin Pavlović, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 1980

Ne okreći se, sine (Don’t Look Back, My Son), Branko Bauer, Yugoslavia (Croatia), 1956

Ni liv (Nine Lives), Arne Skouen, Norway, 1957

Nusja dhe shtetrrethimi (The Bride and the Curfew), Kristaq Mitro & Ibrahim Muçaj, Albania, 1978

‘O sole mio, Giacomo Gentilomo, Italy, 1946

Ouranos (Glory Sky), Takis Kanellopoulos, Greece, 1962

Proverka na dorogah (Trial on the Road), Aleksej German, Soviet Union (Russia), 1971

Le quattro giornate di Napoli (The Four Days of Naples), Nanni Loy, Italy, 1962

Raduga (Rainbow), Mark Donskoj, Soviet Union (Ukraine), 1944

De røde enge (The Red Meadows), Bodil Ipsen & Lau Lauritzen Jr., Denmark, 1945

Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City), Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1946

Sekretar rajkoma (The District Secretary), Ivan Pirijev, Soviet Union (Russia), 1942

Gli sbandati (The Abandoned), Francesco Maselli, Italy, 1955

Slavnij malij (A Good Lad), Boris Barnet, Soviet Union (Russia), 1942

Sovist (Conciousness), Vladimir Denišenko, Soviet Union (Ukraine), 1968

Sutjeska (Battle of Sutjeska), Stipe Delić, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 1973

Trenutki odločitve (Moments of Decision), František Čap, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 1955

U gori raste zelen bor (The Pine Tree in the Mountain), Antun Vrdoljak, Yugoslavia (Croatia), 1971

Valter brani Sarajevo (Valter Defends Sarajevo), Hajrudin Krvavac, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 1972

Zvony pre bosých (The Bells Toll for the Barefooted), Stanislav Barabáš, Czechoslovakia (Slovakia), 1965