Reviews

David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International

A brilliant film about the role of the teaching profession in resisting fascism which offers pertinent insights for defending democracy against the authoritarian populists of today.

Steffen Handal, Leader of the Norwegian teachers union Utdanningsforbundet It’s a gift to the teaching profession in Norway and the norwegian people. My hope is that this story will reach a bigger audience.

 Colonel Dr. John Andreas Olsen, Norwegian defence attachė to the UK has written this about the film:

The Teachers’ Protest is a first-class documentary. The resistance in Norway to the Nazi occupation took many shapes and forms, and one of the least known is a group of teachers who insisted on proper education when they were instructed to teach propaganda. The film is a about providing unbiased education during hard times, not giving into narrow mindedness and pressure from extremists. It is about standing up for what you believe in, taking responsibility for something bigger than yourself. Ultimately, it is about personal integrity and courage. Highly recommended!

Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary of Education International has written these important words about the film. Education International is a global federation of teachers’ trade unions with some 30 million members.

The film tells a story about teachers, courage and professionalism. It highlights the important role education and educators have in society and some of the ethical dilemmas and personal sacrifices which can arise from this. History can provide important lessons for challenges of today and this story is a good basis for reflection on the attacks teachers in many parts of the world experience on democratic values and their professional autonomy.

Screening on Friday 27th September at Cavia, Amsterdam by Rose Fawbert Mills.

It was a grey dreary night here in Amsterdam, the skies heavy with rain, but nevertheless the seats were filled by keen film buffs and history enthusiasts at The Filmhuis Cavia. An old cinema, dating back to a 1983 squatters movement, it was a fitting setting for Jon Seal’s touching documentary.‘The Teachers’ Protest’ maps the resistance of teachers in Norway in 1942. The documentary is an incredible personal achievementand a must see.

With the use of archive footage, first-hand testimony, interviews with surviving family members and live filming of visits to sites of hardship, all alongside the exciting, unusual and skillful animation of Herlov Åmland’s poignant drawings, the teachers’ talesare artfully woven together. In what feels to have been a labour of love, the outcome is sad and tender, yet uplifting and inspiring.

After the screening there were positive comments abundant. A lively discussion took place in the Filmhuis Cavia bar. Firstly about how the Dutch and Norwegian’s differed in their resistance of the Nazi regime; also questions were raised about the speed at which the teachers mobilised themselves and the shame or frustration felt at the lethargy of (and non-committal acts of rebellion in) society today; thought was given to the suffering of the men in the camps and the miraculous survival rate, as well as admiration felt for the stubborn determination to hold on, for the sake of their children and their country.

Visitors to the event asked about a second screening which has subsequently been booked at Filmhuis Cavia for May – on Dutch resistance day. A fitting tribute to the memories. A gentleman, Gerard (a local historian and ex-teacher), who had attended, had many stories to share of his own personal experiences of war – the first as a child and the second as an honorary member of the British Guards. Along with his friend, he runs Dutch resistance history tours here. Another couple, knowledgeable on World War Two, commented on how they loved the way the story has been told by Jon Seal: “the limited number of families and narratives and clear links between events made it more engaging and emotive.” This was, she continued, “a quality often missed by other film makers”. 

Along with the other viewers, I left feeling that I had born witness to a very special and unique screening. It inspired not only sympathy and admiration for those who had been unfairly persecuted but also determination to find out more about their ordeal.

In particular, in the final moment, the ultimate message of the documentary was revealed. A modern day Norwegian teacher (a descendant of one of the persecuted, brave teachers) 

left us with a final thought, that seemed to resonate with audience members. He talks of the optimism and of limitless hope unique to teachers. 

This is a fitting retelling of a silent struggle, of forgotten lives, whose memories have been beautifully and sensitively brought to life.

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