Sisters in Resistance
Moving Story of Courage and Friendship Forged During French Resistance
SISTERS IN RESISTANCE Will Air Nationally on Independent Lens on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Tuesday, April 29, 2003 at 10 P.M. "The only response to absolute evil is fraternity.” — Andre Malraux "You may have heard stories of resistance, but never in su
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(San Francisco, CA)—SISTERS IN RESISTANCE, by director Maia Wechsler, tells the story of four young women who risked their lives to fight Nazi oppression and brutality in occupied France, not because they themselves were Jewish or in danger of being arrested, but because it was the right thing to do. Within two years of the start of the Occupation, they had all been arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned. Deported as political prisoners to Ravensbruck concentration camp, they helped each other survive, forming intense friendships that have lasted for more than 50 years. A vivid portrait of courage and endurance, SISTERS IN RESISTANCE will air nationally on PBS on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 at 10 P.M. (check local listings).
SISTERS IN RESISTANCE follows the paths of the four women—Genevieve de Gaulle Anthonioz, Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt, Anise Postel-Vinay and Germaine Tillion—from before the war to the present. The women speak about what compelled them to resist, their roles in the Resistance, their arrests, deportation and liberation. They talk about the struggle to rebuild their lives after the war, their desire for children and their continued battles in the name of justice.
Today the women live in Paris. They were decorated for their heroism and became social activists and intellectual leaders in their fields. SISTERS is about these four lifelong friends as Resistance fighters, as fellow prisoners, as idealists and as women, offering a perspective that has been largely overlooked in the history of the Holocaust.
Maia Wechsler filmed interviews with the women separately, in pairs and with all four together. She shot at Ravensbruck concentration camp, at the French prisons, and at numerous Paris locations central to the story. Archival footage illustrates their activities in the Resistance.
The eldest of the women is Germaine Tillion; at 93, she is the "mother hen.” A founder of the famous Resistance network Musée de l'homme, Germaine met the youngest of the friends, Anise Postel-Vinay, before boarding the train to Ravensbruck. Said Anise of Germaine: "This phenomenal woman, with her tremendous sense of humor, literally took me under her wing. Every day for the next eighteen months she gave me a piece of her bread ration, on the grounds that I was younger than she and would, as she said, one day be going home to get married and have ten children.”
Genevieve de Gaulle Anthonioz, the niece of Resistance General Charles de Gaulle, was arrested while working for the newspaper Defense de la France. Just before war broke out, she met Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt; they immediately recognized that they were kindred spirits. When they met again in 1941, Jacqueline was a war widow. She was 21 years old. Resistance and arrest led them to Ravensbruck, where they shared a straw mattress, and most importantly, defied the dehumanization of the camp by taking care of one another with love and tenderness.
SISTERS IN RESISTANCE is different from other works about the Holocaust and resistance because, while telling the captivating story of the young women's struggle against the Nazis, the film also shows the power of friendship in the face of absolute evil. The intense camaraderie that existed among these four friends helped them survive the concentration camp and lead productive lives after the war. Few of us experience such friendship, as the women remind us in the film.
For more information, go to www.pbs.org/sistersinresistance
Featured Interviewees, in order of appearance:
Genevieve de Gaulle Anthonioz was 19 years old in 1940. Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt was 20 years old in 1940. Anise Postel-Vinay was 18 in 1940. Germaine Tillion was 33 in 1940.
SISTERS IN RESISTANCE Credits
Directed by Maia Wechsler Produced by Maia Wechsler and Catherine Scheinman Director of Photography Scott St. John
Editor Anne Checler Music Sonya Heller Narrator Kate Mulgrew
Best Documentary, Seattle Women in Cinema Film Festival Chosen as one of the "Outstanding Documentaries of 2001” —Academy Awards Documentary Screening Committee
About the Filmmaker
Maia Wechsler (Director/Producer) has worked in documentary film in New York City for eight years. Prior to her work in film, she was a journalist in Paris, where her immersion in the history of France during the Nazi occupation led to her film SISTERS IN RESISTANCE. Her work in documentary film and video includes co-producer of the feature-length Lifting the Fog: The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; producer and director, In Word and Deed, about an activist church on New York's Lower East Side; editor, Life Choices, a syndicated medical show; Avid editor, Accent on the Offbeat, for Maysles Films; Avid editor, a series of TV commercials for Maysles Films; assistant editor, Fallen Champ, the Untold Mike Tyson Story, directed by Barbara Kopple; assistant editor, A Perfect Candidate; assistant editor, The Orphan Trains; and production manager, My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kinder Transports.
As a journalist, Ms. Wechsler was special correspondent for U.S. News and World Report in Paris, for which she covered the trial of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, and managing editor of Passion, an English-language Paris city monthly. Back in the United States, she was a business and arts writer at The Times, in Trenton, New Jersey. As a student in Paris and New York, she studied and wrote about the anti-Jewish laws of Vichy France and did original research on the American government response to Vichy anti-Semitism.
About Independent Lens
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