Sunday, May 25, 2014



On July 29, 1939, renowned British big game hunter Captain Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) slips through the forest undetected near the BerghofAdolf Hitler's residence near Berchtesgaden. Getting the dictator in his telescopic sight, he pulls the trigger on his unloaded rifle and gives a wave. He ponders a moment, then loads a live round, but is discovered at the last second by a guard, and the shot goes wild.
After being beaten up, Thorndike is taken to Major Quive-Smith (George Sanders). Quive-Smith is also a devoted hunter and an admirer of Thorndike. Thorndike explains that it was a "sporting stalk", not to kill, but just for the thrill of going after the biggest game of all. The Nazi half-believes him, but insists he sign a confession that he was in fact working for His Majesty's government. When Thorndike refuses, he is tortured, but remains steadfast and warns of "questions being asked in high places" if he is killed, as his brother, Lord Risborough (Frederick Worlock), is a very important diplomat. The phrase gives Quive-Smith the idea to have Thorndike thrown off a cliff to make his death look like an accident.
Thorndike survives when his knapsack gets caught in a tree, breaking his fall. He eludes his German pursuers and reaches a port. He steals a rowboat, but is forced to abandon it hastily when a patrol boat comes near. He swims to a Danish ship about to sail for London. Vaner (Roddy McDowall), the English cabin boy, helps Thorndike hide. The Germans find Thorndike's coat and passport aboard the rowboat and search the nearby ship. Though they find nothing, they place agent Mr. Jones (John Carradine) on board using Thorndike's passport to continue looking even after the ship leaves the harbour.
Jones is met by German agents in London. Thorndike, mistakenly believing he is now safe, casually debarks and is spotted. He manages to shake off his pursuers by ducking into the apartment of Jerry Stokes (Joan Bennett), a young woman. Jerry lends him money so he can reach his brother.
When Lord Risborough tells his brother that the British government, continuing its pre-war policy of appeasement, would have to extradite him if he were found, Thorndike decides to hide in Africa. Jerry tries to refuse a large cash reward, leading Lady Risborough (Heather Thatcher) to assume that it is payment for other services, but Thorndike insists. He also buys her a new hatpin, as she had lost hers when they first met. She chooses a cheap chromium arrow and insists Thorndike present it to her. Thorndike likens it to her, saying both are "straight and shiny". By this point, Jerry is in love.
Quive-Smith arrives in London to join the hunt. When Thorndike calls on his solicitor, Saul Farnsworthy (Holmes Herbert), the Nazis are once again on his trail. Chased into a London Underground station, Thorndike struggles with Jones, who is killed when he is thrown onto an electrified rail.
Thorndike tells Jerry to have Lord Risborough send him a letter in three weeks time care of Lyme Regis Post Office. As in the novel, Thorndike hides in a cave. However, when he goes to pick up the letter, the postmistress (Eily Malyon) seems alarmed and sends a girl on an errand. Thorndike grabs the letter and beats a hasty retreat. Back at his cave, he finds the letter is from Quive-Smith, who has followed him to his lair.
Quive-Smith seals the only entrance and passes his quarry the confession and a pen through an air hole, threatening to leave him trapped inside. Quive-Smith also slides in Jerry's beret with the arrow pin, informing Thorndike that she was thrown out a window to her death when she would not betray him. They only discovered Thorndike's location through the address he had written down for her. Badgered by the Nazi, the grief-stricken Thorndike finally admits that he subconsciously intended to assassinate Hitler after all. He then agrees to sign the confession. Quive-Smith unblocks the entrance, but waits to shoot him as he crawls out. Thorndike however has other plans; he uses his belt, a slat from his bed, and a stick to fabricate a bow, using Jerry's pin as the tip of a makeshift arrow, and shoots the German through the air hole. When Thorndike emerges, Quive-Smith manages to wound him before dying. By the time Thorndike recovers, the war has started.
Thorndike joins the R.A.F. as a Bomber Command crewman. On a mission over Germany, Thorndike unexpectedly parachutes into the Reich with his hunting rifle to finish what he had started.

Defiant Requiem
Terezin Memorial
International Committee Of The Red Cross
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Wiener Library Institute Of Contemporary History
Yivo Institute For Jewish Research
Steven Spielberg Film And Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Gift Of Julien Bryan Archive
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy Of Bernard And Emery Klein
Yad Vashem Photo Archives
Central State Archive For Photos & Films, Kiev
Bundesfilmarchiv/Transit Film Gmbh
Jewish Museum In Prague Photo Archive
The National Center For Jewish Film, At Brandeis University
Museum Of Jewish Heritage
National Museum Prague, Czech Republic
Jewish Museum Berlin, Permanent Loan Of Thomas Fritta-Haas
Katja Manor
Jan And Eva Rocek
Edgar Krasa
Zdenka Fantlova
Oddball Film & Video, San Francisco
Thought Equity Motion
Itn Source/ Reuters
Getty Images
Deutsches Filminstitut, Frankfurt
DOUG SHULTZ - Director / Writer / Producer
Doug Shultz has been making award-winning documentary films for over 15 years, on subjects ranging from history to science to the environment. He recently wrote, produced and directed the Peabody Award-winning film Silence of the Bees, which also garnered four Emmy nominations, and he produced and directed the Emmy-winning series CIA Confidential for National Geographic. Other recent films include the Nature specials Cuba: The Accidental Eden and The Loneliest Animals. DEFIANT REQUIEM is his first feature film.
PETER SCHNALL - Producer / Director of Photography / Executive Producer
Peter Schnall is a seven-time Emmy Award and recent Peabody Award-winner who has been making distinctive films and documentaries for more than twenty years. After nearly ten years as an independent, Peter began a 6-year stint as Producer and Senior Producer of the long-running National Geographic Television weekly series Explorer. In 1996 Peter left National Geographic Television to form Partisan Pictures in New York City. His last feature documentary This is a Game, Ladies won the Audience Award at the AFI Silverdocs Film Festival. 
Mark is a Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated editor who has been creating distinctive documentary films for the last 15 years. In that time, he's worked with many acclaimed filmmakers including Spike Lee, Oscar winning director Ross Kauffman, seven-time Emmy Award-winning director Peter Schnall as well as Emmy and Peabody award-winner Doug Shultz. Mark's unique combination of storytelling has been integral to many marquee projects for a wide range of esteemed clients including the PBS series NATURE, HBO SPORTS, National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, MTV, A&E, The Museum on Natural History and the Wildlife Convervation Society.
WHITNEY JOHNSON - Executive Producer
In her role as Vice-President of Production at Partisan Pictures, Whitney has managed over 100 hours of programming, including the Peabody-award winning documentary, Silence of the Bees for PBS/Nature and the Emmy-winning series CIA Confidential for the National Geographic Channel. Other notable films include National Geographic's On Board Air Force One and the PBS special Through a Dog's Eyes. Before joining Partisan, Whitney worked as an Associate Producer for Elizabeth Arledge on the Emmy-winning film The Forgetting, a PBS special on Alzheimer's Disease; Cracking the Code of Life, NOVA's 2-hour special about the race to decode the human genome; and the ABC/Peter Jennings' Production, Out of Control; AIDS in Black America which won a George Foster Peabody Award.
MURRY SIDLIN - Music Director
Murry Sidlin is the creator/conductor of DEFIANT REQUIEM The Live Performance,  which was the inspiration and genesis for this film.  He has conducted 17 performances of Defiant Requiem Live in such cities as Jerusalem, Budapest, Washington, D.C., three times at Terezin, and Houston. Over the next musical season he will perform this concert/drama in Atlanta, Baltimore, New York's Lincoln Center, and in Prague.  He is an internationally recognized conductor, teacher, lecturer, and is the founder and president of the Defiant Requiem Foundation. He has been decorated by the Archbishop of Prague for his contributions to the illumination of the Terezin legacy.
ADINA PLISKIN - Associate Producer
A painter and photographer, Adina began working in film a few years ago as a production assistant on the Nature special Cuba, The Accidental Eden. She also worked as Associate Producer on the series Blue Collar Dogs and the special Manila Hostage Crisis for National Geographic. DEFIANT REQUIEM is her first feature film.

The memorial performance of Verdi's Requiem in Terezin

Conductor Murry Sidlin leads Soprano Sharon Christman and choir in a performance of Verdi's Requiem in Terezin.

Danny and Rafi Krasa lift their father Edgar Krasa, who was Raphael Schachter's roommate and a choir member during their time in Terezin.

Nazi officers about to watch a performance of Verdi's Requiem in a scene from the film

"Know before whom you stand." A wall of the secret synagogue, Terezin.

DEFIANT REQUIEM tells the little-known story of the Nazi concentration camp, Terezin. Led by imprisoned conductor Rafael Sch├Ąchter, the inmates of Terezin fought back...with art and music. Through hunger, disease and slave labor, the Jewish inmates of Terezin hold onto their humanity by staging plays, composing opera and using paper and ink to record the horrors around them.

This creative rebellion reaches its peak when Sch├Ąchter teaches a choir of 150 inmates one of the world's most difficult and powerful choral works, Verdi's Requiem, re-imagined as a condemnation of the Nazis. The choir would ultimately confront the Nazis face to face... and sing to them what they dare not say.

For over ten years, conductor Murry Sidlin has dreamed of bringing the Requiem back to Terezin. Now, through soaring concert footage, powerful survivor recollections, cinematic dramatizations and evocative animation, DEFIANT REQUIEM brings the incredible story of this artistic uprising to life.