Landscapes of Resistance
Landscapes of Resistance traces a journey through the memories of antifascist fighter Sonja (97), one of the first female partisans in Yugoslavia, who was also one of the leaders of the Resistance movement at Auschwitz. We make her story travel through time towards the bodies of the new generation of antifascists, bespeaking that it is always possible to think and practice resistance.
While Landscapes of Resistance has us discover and appreciate Sonja, formerly a member of the Serbian Partisans movement, and reveals her extraordinary journey, her death is announced in the film undramatically. This choice reveals the approach adopted by Marta Popivoda: she tells a twentieth-century story but keeps her eyes open to the present. She portrays a human being in all her singularity to have it resonate more powerfully within us. We draw inspiration, in the strongest sense of the word, from the way in which Sonia began to read “progressive” books early in her life, before joining the struggle against the Nazis, without ever losing courage, even in Auschwitz. The filmmaker crafts a fine cinematic setting for the old lady’s precious testimony. The rhythm of the editing aligns with the soft, slow flow of her voice: the images melt into each other in magnificent dissolves. These shots from the present interweave a domestic world, places of memory and the peaceful world of nature that echoes the resistance fighter’s extraordinary instinct for survival. Excerpts of a correspondence appear superimposed on the image and gradually clarify the relationship between the filmmaker and the protagonist. Letters written by the woman who has brought together Sonya and the filmmaker – she is granddaughter to the first and partner to the second. The parallel journey of these three characters over several years, and beyond death, leads to a conclusion that stands to reason: we don’t have to be heroes to be Partisans; but we must be Partisans.
Marta Popivoda (1982, Serbia) is a Berlin-based filmmaker, video-artist and researcher. Her work explores tensions between memory and history, collective and individual bodies, as well as ideology and everyday life, with a focus on antifascist and feminist potentialities of the Yugoslav socialist project. She cherishes collective practice in art-making and research, and for several years has been part of the TkH (Walking Theory) collective. Popivoda’s first feature documentary, Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body, premiered at the 63rd Berlinale and was later screened at many international film festivals.