Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Alias Loner (orig. Segvārds Vientulis) [2014]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing listing*

Official Facebook* (B. Cuzco) article* review* (K. Matīsa, K. Raksti) review* review* review*

Alias Loner (orig. Segvārds Vientulis) [2014] [FB] [IMDb] (written and directed by Normunds Pucis [IMDb] [CEu]) is a LATVIAN docudrama about Father Anton Juhņevičs (played in the film by Varis Piņķis [IMDb] [CEu]) an outspoken Latvian Catholic priest who hid in his Church young Latvians fleeing conscription by BOTH Nazi and Soviet authorities during WW II and CAME TO LEAD during the SUMMER AND FALL OF 1945 the ARMED LATVIAN OPPOSITION TO THE REIMPOSITION OF SOVIET RULE on his country.   The film played recently at the 2015 - 18th Chicago European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.

Recognizing by late 1945 that continued fighting was pointless, he turned himself in to Archbishop of Riga in January 1946, who kept him (with Soviet authorities' permission) under house arrest at a Capuchin monastery in the Latvian capital city Riga.

When the Archbishop of Riga tried to get him out of the country, Fr. Juhņevičs was arrested outside of the monastery, tried and eventually put to death in 1947.

For a non-Latvian like me, I found it both fascinating and actually not altogether surprising that organized Latvian armed resistance to the reimposition of Soviet rule until at least 1946.  The Courland peninsula in Latvia remained outside of Soviet Control until the end of World War II, and the Latvians knew for certain what awaited them if they surrendered to the Soviet NKVD authorities.

What's remarkable that FINALLY a film, and reaching the West, was made about this post-WW II continued guerrilla resistance to Soviet rule.  (Previously, I had merely heard that such armed opposition existed in the Ukraine until at least 1950... There was also reference to similar Lithuanian resistance in the German film Wolfschildren (orig. Wolfskinder) [2013] about "left behind"/war refugee German East Prussian children who eventually came to survive and be adopted by Lithuanian families in the years after the war).  It's a remarkable and important story that helps explain conflicts and fears that remain up to today.

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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