Eye For Film >> Movies >> Moments Of Resistance (2019) Film Review
Moments Of Resistance
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Looking at things that have happened in the past before making big decisions – it’s such an obviously sensible rule that the Onion once ran an article on it, and yet it’s one that professional politicians often ignore. Grassroots activists and campaigners, working on next to nothing, can’t afford to – yet the history of work like theirs is often poorly recorded. Jo Schmeiser’s documentary is an important contribution to the body of cinema aimed at addressing that problem.
Focused on the testimony of Austrians who resisted the Nazis, the film also incorporates interviews with women working to resist racism and other forms of oppression today. This gives an urgency to the older accounts and an authority to the modern ones. Some intermediate stories are present to, exploring the way that the women’s movement developed through the 20th Century, the way children were raised in it and picked up useful skills. Whilst the living speakers address the camera directly, the older accounts are delivered by actors whilst we see vintage footage or stills of places where its writers lived and worked.
Although this is a film centred on women, it doesn’t depict them in isolation. Many are recognised as mothers, carers and lovers of persecuted men, often left behind to carry on the struggle as best they could after those accorded more agency were taken away to be imprisoned or killed. There’s a different kind of strength needed to endure this which rarely gets accorded space in cinema, and it comes through clearly here. The stories a migrant women illuminate the fact that this struggle is not something relegated to the past, and older Austrian women speak of the importance of solidarity with refugees today.
There is a level on which the educational aspect of this film becomes very direct, as, for instance, participants discuss the best ways to handle arrest and techniques for throwing interrogators off the scent. Some of them have been through a lot and what stands out about them is that most did not need to, or not for themselves – they chose to get involved in dangerous or unpleasant situations because they believed that it was necessary, because of a commitment to wider humanity. Whether you agree with all their choices or not, there is much to admire about them, and their blunt, pragmatic approach to telling their stories will no doubt be an inspiration to others.Reviewed on: 23 Feb 2020
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