Partisans of Vilna

Dir. Josh Waltezky | 130 min
Documentary USA 1986

An enormously riveting and inspirational tale of WWII and the Holocaust, Partisans of Vilna chronicles the amazing endeavors of the Jewish resistance fighters.

Co-written by director Josh Waletzky (Image Before My Eyes) and producer Aviva Kempner, Partisans of Vilna skillfully blends songs, newsreels and rare archival footage dating from 1939-44 and contemporary interviews with forty partisan survivors (including Abba Kovner, a founder of the partisan movement and one of Israel’s leading poets).

The film explores the difficulties of organizing under the anarchic conditions of the ghetto 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.

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.

Featuring producer Aviva Kempner in conversation after both screenings.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective


Friday, November 151:00 PM Matinee / Q&A

Wednesday, November 207:00 PM Q&A


Aviva Kempner has a mission in life. She makes films that investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and celebrate the untold stories of Jewish heroes. To her list of those heroes, she has now added Moe Berg. Based in Washington, DC, director-writer-producer Kempner boasts a resume of critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries, including Rosenwald, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, and Peabody winner The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. She also produced another WWII documentary, Partisans of Vilna. She is an avid voting rights advocate for the District of Columbia and is the founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival.


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