Austėja Masiokaitė, 2012-09-14
J. Ohman, producer M. Johnston, cinematographer M. Ryan

In brief:  The first part of this interview was held last autumn, when the Lithuania-based Swedish director Jonas Ohman, Lithuanian American director Vincas Sruoginis, American producer Mark Johnston and cinematographer Mark Ryan presented their then unfinished film ‘The Invisible Front’ in Lithuania. Their attempt to talk about the post-war partisan resistance was welcomed very warmly here.

According to J. Ohman, the independent film was finally completed and presented in New York a month ago. It should be premiered in Lithuania next year. All the authors share nice impressions experienced during the process of filmmaking and interaction with Lithuanians. They were always kind-hearted, welcoming and hospitable. Those people shared their most personal, darkest secrets and their necessity to narrate was so great, that they only saw the filmmakers, despite all the lights and cameras.

M. Johnston asserts that ‘The Invisible Front’ should help the world better understand, why Lithuanians resisted the cruelty and deportations. V. Sruoginis wishes to activate the dialogue between the East and the West. The Lithuanian American notes that the image of Lithuania is based on stereotypes and preconceptions abroad. J. Ohman underlines the aim to make the past of Lithuania and that invisible underground war finally visible.

The film was met with interest in the USA for its specificity and uniqueness. The topic is quite rare as well as complicated. Many questions are answered after the film but every viewer has to find his or her own connection with it. The film is a mirror – people see and search for themselves, their own characters and outlooks in it.

The film was already shown in Kaunas, Vilnius and abroad. The story is further spread in Lithuania, other Baltic States, Poland and Russia. The film is part of a long process – it should be still interesting in ten years. A love story used in the film is one of the narratives making it memorable.

According to J. Ohman, Western viewers find it difficult to perceive the film since the context is strange to them. For example, the episode of deportation is incomprehensible in the West – the fact that someone could come to your house and deport you someplace else. For educational reasons, a clear and pedagogic introduction is made by the filmmakers. The introduction is one of the strongest elements of the film.

Americans should be interested in the story also because the resistance was held by free people of Lithuania, not by the army. There are more interesting narratives in the film: betrayal, love, fight for one’s ideals, crucial decisions. Sometimes even killing a brother or betraying a friend or deporting another family to save one’s own. People should never be forced to make such decisions, M. Johnston says.

When asked the opinion about other films examining similar historical problems, the makers mentioned such films like ‘Nobody Wanted to Die’ (Niekas Nenorėjo Mirti, Lithuania, 1966), ‘The Soviet Story’ (Latvia, 2008) and ‘Katyn’ (Poland, 2007).

People kept on telling their stories after the premiere in Lithuania. According to M. Johnston, it is related to the fifty-year-long Soviet occupation, which restrained the freedom of speech. The producer asserts that Lithuanians cannot speak about the past without emotions and this complicates the process of documentary filmmaking. J. Ohman says that being a foreigner allows distancing from this extremely complex history and showing what is the most important. One of such things for Lithuania is people and their personal choices.

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