The trauma mapped on a nation-state’s skin

TRAUMA: An unorthodox documentary on the exceptional journey of one of Serbia's first female partisans, who helped lead the resistance in Auschwitz.

(Translated from English by Google Gtranslate)

Landscapes of Resistance, the latest documentary from Marta Popivoda, who directed the more formally rigorous body and space interrogation Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body (2013), world premiered at the 2021 International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Tiger Competition. On one level, it is a record of testimony, a tribute to political principle, unbreakable courage, and a bulwark against the historical erasure of one Balkan woman’s wartime experience. On another, the film is a bracing portrait of activist legacy; of intergenerational solidarity between women combatting fascism in an ongoing battle that, as much as its guises and methods have shifted in a transforming world, remains, in essence, the same.

Landscapes of Resistance-IFFR-MTR1
Landscapes of Resistance, a film by Marta Popivoda

A fierce will to live

In reminiscences filmed over recent years, nonagenarian Sofija Sonja Vujanović recounts with a spry, no-fuss clarity — astonishing, given the depths of atrocity she has endured — her life as an active leftist. She came to this life young, as a consumer of stories by Russian Marxist Maxim Gorky and other forbidden «progressive» literature through like-minded classmates, and then became the wife of a communist in Valjevo, in what was Yugoslavia (now Serbia). When the city fell to German occupation during the Second War War, she became one of the first female Partisans, whose activities included ambushing a German-manned train to redirect wheat back to peasants. She was captured and tortured, then interred in several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where she was a resistance . . .

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Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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