PARTISANS OF VILNA to screen at the Washington Jewish Film Festival

We are excited to announce that Partisans of Vilna will be screening at the Washington Jewish Film Festival on April 25th! The film will be screened at the Washington DC JCC at 1529 16th St. NW, Washington, DC. The producer, Aviva Kempner, will be in attendance for a Q&A.

Partisans of Vilna to screen at the Arsenal: Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin, October 1st through November 9th.

The Ciesla Foundation is proud to announce that the new digitized version of Partisans of Vilna will be shown at the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art Collection in Berlin, among a series dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of National Socialism. I will be going to Berlin, where I was born, to present the film. Almost 30 years ago director Josh Waletzky and I premiered the film at the Berlin Film Festival.


Below is more information about the event:


(directed by Josh Waletzky, USA 1986)

October 31
Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin, Germany
7:00 PM Cinema 1

Special Guest: Producer Aviva Kempner, in a discussion with Ulrich Gregor
The film is an account of armed resistance and internal struggles in the Vilna ghetto. Many of the Jewish partisans were students, who were young, well-educated and independent, and banded together with Russian, Polish and Lithuanian groups in the surrounding woods. Here too though, they experienced anti-Semitism and resentment. The film contains 40 interviews with former resistance fighters, as well as archive material from 1933 to 1944. Traditional songs and Yiddish interpretations of well-known partisan songs play an important role in the film.

Click here for more information.


The Ciesla Foundation presents...

An enormously riveting and inspirational tale of WWII and the Holocaust, Partisans of Vilna chronicles the amazing endeavors of the Jewish resistance fighters. Highly acclaimed during its theatrical run, the film has been described as "a stirring, extremely honest and heart rending celebration" (New York Magazine). Elie Wiesel called it "Enlightening, truthful, challenging, heartbreaking... one of the best and most eloquent documentaries on the suffering and dilemmas Jews faced."


Directed and edited by Josh Waletzky (Image Before My Eyes) and produced and conceived by Aviva Kempner (The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg), Partisans of Vilna skillfully blends songs, newsreel and archival footage with interviews of over forty Holocaust survivors to paint an eye-opening portrait of the courageous Jewish resistance in Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. Recounting how a commando unit was formed under tremendous risk to conduct sabotage missions against the Nazis, the film explores the moral dilemmas facing the Jewish youth who organized an underground resistance in the Vilna Ghetto and fought as partisans in the woods against the Third Reich.

A Historical Document

More than just a record of great historical importance, Partisans of Vilna is an intensely stirring and uplifting commemoration of heroes during the darkest of times. In the over 25 years since its initial theatrical release, Partisans of Vilna has became a vital part of the historical record of Jewish resistance in Lithuania. Many of the heroes who were interviewed in the early 1980s for the film have since passed away, but their words and deeds live on in Partisans of Vilna.

In the producer's words...

Listen to Aviva Kempner talk about why she had to make Partisans of Vilna in this audio clip, recorded on the occasion of the DVD release in 2007.