Greetings From Free Forests

Greetings From Free Forests

Ian Soroka
US/Slovenia/Croatia
2018
99 minutes

In his debut feature, director Ian Soroka creates an evocative portrait of the southern Slovenian landscape that facilitated what is considered to be Europe’s most effective resistance movement during World War II. Part experimental ethnography, part metaphorical reflection, the film uses lush cinematography and a rich soundscape to contemplate life in the forest during wartime.

The German and Italian occupation of Slovenia forced thousands to flee their homes. A Communist-led resistance movement known as the Liberation Front formed when Slovenian Partisans sought refuge deep in the forests of Yugoslavia. They constructed their stronghold under the cover of spruce trees where the movement’s leadership operated, hidden from fascist occupiers and collaborators, for almost two years.

After the war, Communist authorities built another secret bunker deep beneath the forest floor. Originally intended to shelter party leadership in the case of atomic fallout, this climate-controlled facility now houses the film archives of the Cinematheque of the Republic of Slovenia. Soroka artfully weaves archival footage from this collection with contemporary scenes and commentary from survivors, historians, and naturalists to trace the footpaths and ruins that remain as monuments to the resistance. -CL

“The Slovenian forest is at risk of erosion (partially due to logging, which is also covered in the film by way of old newsreel material), and the same can be said for memory. Greetings From Free Forests is a remarkable attempt to fight this process of oblivion.” - CINEUROPA

City of Lisbon Award for Best International Competition Film

Doclisboa 2018