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Cinema Curiosa presents: Strange Victory
February 1 @ 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm| Main Library (Traverse City)
“The ideas of the loser is still active in the land of the winner.”
The year was 1945. The free world rejoices over the defeat of fascism. But the peace soon chilled, and in the Cold War that followed the United States entered a period of national paranoia and political repression. In response, film producer Barney Rosset and director Leo Hurwitz joined forces to create Strange Victory. This rarely seen, stylistically bold documentary equals the visual, poetic brilliance of Battleship Potemkin and I am Cuba while delivering an extraordinary cry from the heart to make a better place for our children. Skillfully combining documentary footage of World War II battles, postwar refugees, and the Nuremberg trials with powerful dramatic re-enactments, Hurwitz wove an extraordinary cinematic portrait of postwar American Fascism. How could it be, the film asked, that servicemen returned home from defeating a racist and genocidal enemy found the United States plagued by racism, Jim Crow, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and xenophobia?StrangeVictory—a cry for equality and justice —was promptly branded “pro-communist” and a financial flop. Hurwitz was blacklisted from film and television for more than a decade and Virgil Richardson (a former Tuskegee Airman), who portrayed a black vet in the film, chose to emigrate to Mexico to escape from US racism.
“One of the best documentaries of all time…. The setup of this extraordinary documentary essay (featuring journalistic research, archival footage, and fictional reconstructions) is that of a film noir, but Hurwitz, with his audacious editing and blunt commentary, infuses it with a substance far more radical and harrowing than anything Hollywood could produce. The horrors of a world in which concentration camps functioned untouched are shown to have a pathological parallel in American prejudice—anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and especially racism in all its forms, from job and housing discrimination to lynching, the victims of which Hurwitz calls ‘the casualties of a war.’ Tracking Hitler’s rise to power, Hurwitz is shocked to find ‘the ideas of the loser still active in the land of the winner.’ The film acts as a kind of collective psychoanalysis; its findings are yet to be worked through.”
—RichardBrody, The New Yorker
“The essential documentary of our moment. Strange Victory can rekindle our energies, without a moment to lose.” — David Bordwell