Cinema After Battle: Eastern Europe in War

It seems safe to say that the Second World War stands as one of the defining moments of the 20th century. The conflict resulted in untold millions of deaths, wrought widespread destruction across much of the globe, and permeated every aspect of life for those affected. In recent years, however, when dealing with the subject popular culture has tended to focus solely on the action and excitement of the heat of battle, and the heroic sacrifices of individuals. Though this singular focus on the spectacular heroism of battle may play well in modern American box offices, it arguably misses the forest for the trees, essentially eliding most of the practical historical situation, and causing us to lose sight of much of what characterized the myriad experiences of the war, namely the circumstances leading up to it, daily life under occupation, and its far reverberating consequences. This film series will explore the various ways that directors have approached the subject of World War II over the last half-century. To this end, Central- and Eastern-Europe, a space of occupation, collaboration, resistance, and ultimately the Holocaust, offers a microcosm in which we can see all aspects of this phenomenon unfold and play out on the level of the individual. Focusing specifically on the experiences of those living in this area, the films deal with the implications, not only material, but also moral and psychological, of one of the most traumatic collective experiences in modern history.

- Charles Swank