Norwegian American Newspaper Review

Following the very successful online screening at Scandinavia House in New York, Victoria Hofmo wrote this excellent article for the The Norwegian American newspaper. Click here to read the article.

Bristol Young Teachers’ network

After a recent screening at the Bristol Young Teachers Network we received these comments from Lee.

‘As teachers and activists in the age of neoliberalism it can easy to believe that the present state education is “how it has always been”. Therefore history such as the Norwegian Teachers Protest allow today’s educators an insight into how past generations have struggled, and in doing so made a crucial stand for what they believed in. 

‘It was inspiring to see how teachers of a past generation placed the welfare and integrity of students and staff at the centre of a holistic vision for how society could and should be, often in the face of insurmountable threats.’

The Norse Hall, Portland, USA

We were delighted to have the opportunity to show your film and even more gratified that there was such interest and support demonstrated by our audience. Had we known, we’d have chosen one of our bigger rooms for the showing! I hope Erik shared with you that when the film ended there was a spontaneous burst of Ja Vi Elsker! Your film is a history of courageous resistance during WWII, but it certainly resonates, and inspires us today. Thank you for your excellent work! Julie Whippple

Tony Foody of Cumbria NEU wrote about the recent screenings in Barrow and Penrith.

The Teachers’ Protest

Last week the Cumbria District put on two successful screenings of the Teachers’ Protest documentary.  The film tells the fascinating story of how Norwegian teachers stood up to Nazi interference in education during WWII.  It was shown in Penrith in the north of Cumbria, and Barrow in the south and was very well-received in both.  NEU members (both current and retired), trade unionists, political activists, and members of the wider public enjoyed learning about this little known aspect of the conflict.  The story was new to many, and the audience went away informed and inspired by the bravery and sacrifices of the Norwegian teachers. 

The screening allowed interested parties to get together in a more social setting to discuss thoughts and ideas on this and other issues.  We recommend other districts and ISOs putting on their own screenings.  If you are interested in hosting a screening, details can be found on the Teachers’ Protest website

Dawn Watts of Taunton Film Society.

‘Recently, Taunton Film Society showed ‘The Teacher’s Protest’ followed by a Q&A with Jon Seal, the director. 
Our members and guests were overwhelmingly positive about the film with almost everyone giving it a score of 5 out of 5 on our response form. People praised Jon for unearthing such an astonishing yet unknown story and for making such a unique and gripping film. As a film society, we loved the authenticity of having the director present and he gave a fascinating talk and answered some penetrating questions.’

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

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.

Feedback after the screening in Kirkenes

Ordfører Rune Rafaelsen i Sør-Varanger så filmen mandag kveld.

  • Læreraksjonen er en sentral hendelse og en viktig krigshistorie lokalt i vår kommune, kanskje den viktigste. Likevel er denne historien underkommunisert. Tyskerne ble redde for den store støtten som lærerne fikk og Quisling ble tvunget til å legge ned leire. Lærerne fikk også bygget biblioteket i Kirkenes, sa ordføreren før filmen. 

Robert Nesje i Utdanningsforbundet i Sør-Varanger spiller en rolle i filmen.

  • Det har selvfølgelig vært vanskelig å få fram alle aspektene i en sånn film, men jeg tror det er blitt en viktig film for å bidra til at denne viktige historien ikke blir glemt. Tidsvitnene blir færre og færre etter hvert som tiden går og det er viktig at denne filmen kommer nå. Lærerne viste et sterkt personlig mot i en ikke-voldelig aksjon. Og husk at dette er en lavbudsjettfilm. Kun 150 000 kroner har det kostet å lage den, sier Nesje.
  • Man kan kjempe uten våpen og likevel vinne. Jeg var spent på hvordan den skulle bli tatt i mot her, hvor folk kjenner historien og fakta. Det ser ut som folk likte den. Nå blir det viktig å fortsette å fortelle historien og dele den med flest mulig, slik at den ikke glemmes, sier Seal. 
  • En helt fantastisk god dokumentarfilm. Jeg er veldig godt fornøyd med hvordan den ble. En film der det ikke finnes helter. Det var de norske lærerne som sto opp og ga den virkelige motstanden mot nazismen, ikke gutta på skauen, sier Sigbjørn Sildnes.

Else-May Øien Guvåg var en av de som så filmen mandag kveld.

  • Dette var en meget sterk historie. Vi er mange som har sett minnesmerkene om læreraksjonen i Kirkenes, men som kanskje ikke visste så mye om den. Det er en viktig film som bidrar til at denne viktige krigshistorien ikke glemmes, sier Øien Guvåg.

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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