Resistance: They Fought Back: a revealing documentary that shatters misconceptions

RESISTANCE – They Fought Back.’ (photo credit: Jerusalem Jewish Film Week)

‘Resistance: They Fought Back’ is an essential, illuminating, and captivating documentary that shatters misconceptions about Jewish passivity during the Holocaust. We’ve all heard of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but most people have no idea how widespread and prevalent Jewish resistance to Nazi barbarism was. Instead, it’s widely believed “Jews went to their deaths like sheep to the slaughter.” Filmed in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Israel, and the U.S., ‘Resistance: They Fought Back’ provides a much-needed corrective to this myth of Jewish passivity.

Co-directed by Paula Apsell and Kirk Wolfinger, the film meticulously presents evidence challenging the notion of Jews going to their fate “like sheep to the slaughter.” Through gripping interviews with Holocaust survivors, the documentary unveils the courageous acts of resistance, known in Hebrew as “Amidah,” painting a vivid portrait of defiance in the face of unimaginable horror.

What sets ‘Resistance: They Fought Back’ apart is its immersive approach to storytelling. Rather than relying solely on interviews, Apsell and Wolfinger transport viewers to the locations where these acts of resistance took place, providing a visceral connection to history. The inclusion of archival footage and harrowing photographs further amplifies the impact, offering a stark reminder of the atrocities committed during this dark period.

There were uprisings in ghettos, large and small, rebellions in death camps, and thousands of Jews fighting Nazis in the forests. Everywhere in Eastern Europe, Jews waged campaigns of non-violent resistance against the Nazis. The survivors’ accounts are captivating and thrilling, filled with vivid details that transport audiences back in time. Their bravery and resilience in the face of adversity serve as a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of the Holocaust.

Moreover, the documentary’s masterful editing and cinematic flair ensure a compelling viewing experience from beginning to end. Featuring interviews with Joel de la Fuente, Marcel Nadjari, Lisa Loeb, Ruzka Korchak, Andrew Kishino, Mark Zeisler, Julie Benko, and directed by Paula Apsell, ‘Resistance: They Fought Back’ is not merely a historical recollection but a profound exploration of human courage and the enduring spirit of resistance.

By finding the perfect balance between entertainment and emotional provocation, the film leaves a lasting impression on viewers, prompting reflection long after the credits roll. It would make for a thought-provoking double feature alongside other documentaries exploring Jewish resistance in WWII.

Clocking in at a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes, “Resistance: They Fought Back” is a revelation in documentary filmmaking. It is a testament to the power of storytelling and the importance of bearing witness to history’s darkest chapters. The film’s release at DCTV’s Firehouse Cinema via Abramorama is a fitting platform for its debut, offering audiences a chance to engage with this vital piece of cinema.

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