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Published: 14 february 2020 17:40

VIP guests greeted by Honour Guard at the film premiere of The Partisan in Vilnius

Benediktas Vanagas, Juozas Jakavonis-Tigras, Vytautas Landsbergis
Arno Strumilos / 15min nuotr. / Benediktas Vanagas, Juozas Jakavonis-Tigras, Vytautas Landsbergis

The Partisan, the latest historical documentary by the film director Ms Agnė Zalanskaitė, premiered at Forum Cinemas Vingis on Wednesday night. The film is based on a previously untold story of Juozas Paliūnas-Rytas (Rytas being a codename, which means Morning), the leader of the so-called ‘Revival District’ and his dramatic battle. The premiere of this latest event in Lithuanian film-making was well attended by a number of honourable guests, from well-known patriots to passionate movie-lovers.

The launch was organised in collaboration with the Lithuanian Army and before the screening, the guests were greeted by the Honour Guard. The Guard wore a variety of military uniforms representing different historical periods, also integrating the years of the Resistance movement portrayed in the film.

The lead role is played by Paulius Markevičius – actor and director, winner of Dalia Tamulevičiūtė prize (Ms D.Tamulevičiūtė (1940-2006), Lithuanian theatre director), star of Summer Survivors (Išgyventi vasarą, released in 2018).

According to Mr Markevičius, it would be difficult to predict one’s own reaction when faced with a critical situation. The actor adds: ‘Some people may think they would choose escaping in order to guarantee the survival of their loved ones. But thrown into this kind of situation in real life the same people, driven by a strong inner desire, might find themselves joining the forefront of the resistance movement. On the other hand, those shouting the loudest and openly flaunting their bravery may be the first ones to jump ship. History is full of moments like these.

‘An overwhelming and extraordinary explosion occurs within a person when he or she is confronted with the sole purpose of survival under extreme circumstances. And to understand this explosive feeling, to try and explain it is quite difficult for someone living in safe and secure conditions,’ adds Mr Markevičius.

When asked to describe the significance of the resistance movement, Mr Markevičius acknowledges the importance of this period in Lithuanian history and treats his role in the film as a great honour. He says: ‘Looking back at these historical moments, I have huge respect for the partisan movement. As a nation, we lived through and survived this period so we should not simply erect a monument for it and forget it. There were people who endured tremendous suffering, torture, hunger… I would also include those who were forced to flee, people with creative potential who had to emigrate abroad. Was their contribution to freedom fighting any less significant? It is hard to say, but I do believe the battle can happen on several fronts at once.’

‘Juozas Paliūnas once said that ‘one person can do more damage to the enemy with a typewriter than an entire platoon of armed men’. I find this quote so inspiring. I personally think that the first defence should always be reasoning and dialogue. And only if words fail, if the aggressor refuses to acknowledge the intellectual resistance, the arsenal used for defence will be quite different of course. Unfortunately, the latter is often the case in the current world where humanity is often sacrificed in order to survive.’

The Partisan’ is a documentary film telling a unique story about the fighting of Juozas Paliūnas-Rytas, leader of the ‘Revival District’. Weary of Soviet occupation, he sacrifices his personal life and leaves his family to retreat to the woods and prepare to enter a fatal battle for the freedom of Lithuania. His rifle, nicknamed ‘little machine’, becomes his best friend.

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