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Based on an extraordinary true story, DEFIANCE is an epic tale of family, honor, vengeance and salvation in World War II. The year is 1941 and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being massacred by the thousands. Managing to escape certain death, three brothers take refuge in the dense surrounding woods they have known since childhood. There they begin their desperate battle against the Nazis. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as brothers who turn a primitive struggle to survive into something far more consequential – a way to avenge the deaths of their loved ones by saving thousands of others.
At first it is all they can do to stay alive. But gradually, as whispers of their daring spreads, they begin to attract others – men and women, young and old – willing to risk everything for the sake of even a moment‟s freedom. Tuvia (CRAIG) is a reluctant leader and his decisions are challenged by his brother, Zus (SCHREIBER) who worries that Tuvia‟s idealistic plans will doom them all. Asael (BELL) is the youngest – caught between his brothers‟ fierce rivalry. As a brutal winter descends, they work to create a community, and to keep faith alive when all humanity appeared to be lost.
DEFIANCE is directed by Edward Zwick (BLOOD DIAMOND, GLORY) from a screenplay by Zwick and Clay Frohman, based on Nechama Tec‟s non-fiction book of the same name. The producers are Zwick and Pieter Jan Brugge. The team recreating the forest haven includes twotime Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Eduardo Serra (BLOOD DIAMOND, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING), production designer Dan Weil (BLOOD DIAMOND, THE BOURNE IDENTITY) and Oscar®-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (GOSFORD PARK, A ROOM WITH A VIEW).
About The Production ―We may be hunted like animals, but we will not become animals. We have all chosen this – to live free, like human beings, for as long as we can. Each day of freedom is a victory. And if we die trying to live, at least we die like human beings.‖ -- Tuvia Bielski, DEFIANCE
In the summer of 1941, Hitler‟s army was on the move. Europe would soon fall to its overwhelming might. For millions, it would be an inescapable death sentence. But for the Bielski brothers – three young, Jewish, working-class farmers from the remote countryside of Belarus -- it became something else: a call to arms from which they would not turn away, one that would test the limits of their courage, their brotherhood, and their will to defy the evil around them -- as they came to lead thousands in a desperate battle for survival against overwhelming odds. Edward Zwick, the acclaimed director of GLORY and BLOOD DIAMOND, brings this extraordinary, untold story to the screen as an intensely moving action-drama about the complicated nature of vengeance and salvation; the power of community; and the will to live when all hope seems lost. Shot in Lithuania with a devoted international cast and crew headed by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber – the filmmakers painstakingly sought to recreate a story that is not only remarkable unto itself, but also an important new look at one of the cinematic myths of World War II. Just as Zwick previously revisited a hidden chapter of the Civil War and its African-American regiment in his Oscar®-winning film GLORY, he now explores a stirring reality that has been all but ignored in the movies: the brave resistance of those who refused to go without a fight. Says Zwick: “The popular iconography of the Holocaust has mostly been one of victimization. It‟s important to add complexity to that notion -- to understand that there is a difference between passivity and powerlessness, that the impulse to resist was always present. DEFIANCE is about those who managed to fight back, but it is also about the enduring conflict between the desire for revenge and the desire to save others. It‟s a story that compels us to ask ourselves: What would I have done in those circumstances? And in that way, I think, it becomes a deeply personal experience.”
AFTER FIVE GENERATIONS OF SAVED LIVES, A TALE OF EPIC COURAGE AT LAST COMES TO LIGHT The story of the Bielski brothers and the community they formed in the dark and wintry forests of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe remains one of history‟s most compelling tales – yet few have heard it. The story first came to light -- if only momentarily – when, in 1944 at the war‟s end, local Gentiles witnessed an astounding, almost surreal sight: more than 1200 Jews suddenly emerging from the deep woods. At first, the locals believed them to be ghosts. How, they wondered, could these few have survived while so many thousands were sent to the death camps. In whispers and rumors, pieces of the story began to emerge. In a time of growing anti-Semitism, the Bielskis had been raised on the family farm in Stankevich -- in what is now Belarus but was then under Soviet control. Physically imposing and charismatic, the brothers were known as scrappy fighters, rebels with an aversion to authority. When the Nazis invaded in June, 1941 – overwhelming the region with a massive air and ground attack -- the three brothers were quickly identified as potential troublemakers and targeted by the SS as well as by the local police. A series of devastating tragedies followed in quick succession as the Bielskis‟ parents and many beloved family members (including Tuvia‟s infant daughter and wife) were killed in a mass execution of 4,000 Jews in the Novogrudok ghetto. To save their own lives, the brothers escaped to the local woods – a vast, thickly overgrown area they had known since childhood. There, able to hide from their
persecutors, they formed a fledgling partisan group, determined to fight the Nazi occupation and those cooperating with them. But what began as a battle for survival and a quest for vengeance soon grew into something that transcended both agendas -- a commitment to save as many Jews as possible, young and old, rich or poor. Under Tuvia‟s leadership, that mission succeeded beyond anyone‟s imagination. In time, the Bielskis even dared to venture back into the ghettoes, offering a chance of escape to those Jews helplessly facing deportation and death in the concentration camps. After months of relentless pursuit, often forced to move at a moment‟s notice in an endless search for a safe haven, they eventually forged a makeshift village in the Naliboki Forest, living in underground dugouts (known as zemlyankas) and eventually creating a makeshift hospital, a mill, a metal-shop, a bakery, a bathhouse and eventually even a theater and synagogue. Amidst the surrounding horror, this secret encampment grew so full of life they named it “Jerusalem in the Woods.” As word of their efforts spread, their numbers swelled – eventually including refugees from every walk of life, from doctors and lawyers to farmers and carpenters, with women working and fighting alongside men. Though facing countless hardships – from malnutrition and contagious illness to enemy patrols and internal dissent – they struggled to maintain a semblance of ordinary life, one that kept their
hopes, and most important, their humanity, alive. Children went to school, couples fell in love and got married, everyone, young and old, contributed in whatever way they were able. And a community was born. Meanwhile, the Nazis placed huge bounties on the brothers‟ heads, hoping to stop what soon became an inspirational folk tale to those desperately in need of some kind of hope. Yet, the village
flourished. Central to its survival were its fighters, a makeshift band that protected the community at all costs, pillaged enemy villages for the food, supplies and weapons without which they would surely perish. Though their methods could be extreme and deadly, they were also effective. The Bielski group, known to other partisans hiding in the Naliboki forest as the “Bielski Otriad”, became the largest Jewish partisan band in the history of the war, taking more German casualties and saving more Jewish lives than any other. (It is estimated that over 20,000 Jews participated in partisan units throughout Eastern Europe and – though there were others who survived in the forests, including the Zhukov and Zorin otriads – these groups were considerably smaller.) Still, when the war ended, the Bielskis‟ story was nearly lost to time. Tuvia and Zus moved first to Israel, then to New York, where they quietly led hard-working, ordinary American lives as taxi-drivers and truck drivers. They were reticent to talk about the past, even with their children -- yet other survivors began to speak out about how they had been saved. As Sulia Rubin, forever grateful to have been part of their forest community told The New York Times in 2000: “I wouldn't have survived without the Bielskis. Were they perfect? No, everybody makes mistakes. But they are mine, they are family, I love them.'' It was only after Tuvia‟s death in 1987, as researchers began exploring the history anew, that their story became better known. Most prominent among these historians was Dr. Nechama Tec, Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Connecticut who, in 1993, published her award-winning book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Tec‟s extensive interviews with those still living provided the first real insight into their remarkable experience. The Los Angeles Times called the book “one of the most elevating and inspiring stories in the chronicle of death and despair that is the Holocaust.” When screenwriter Clayton Frohman read Tec‟s book, he was completely at a loss as to why this story of tenacious Jewish resistance and courage was not better known. People had heard of the ill-fated Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of gentile rescuers such as Oskar Schindler, yet absent was any other evidence of Jewish resistance. “I grew up in the Jewish tradition, read a lot about the Holocaust, and my father was an American soldier in World War II, so I thought I‟d heard a lot of the most interesting stories from that time. But I‟d never heard about the Bielskis,” Frohman recalls. “I felt right away that this was a necessary story to tell – of the people who fought back, who would not submit. All my life I had heard about Jews who were victims. Helpless, resigned, doomed. And that was the Germans‟ intention -- that we only think of them
as such. And they almost succeeded. What makes this film so important to me is that it tells the other side of a story that was almost lost.” While attending a Dodger‟s game, Frohman gave Tec‟s book to his good friend, Edward Zwick. “As a filmmaker, Ed has that ability to combine the intimate and the epic, to mix the deepest character work with the intensity of life-and-death stakes. This was a chance for us to make the kind of epic actiondrama that rarely gets made any more.” A single reading was all it took for Zwick to understand Frohman‟s passion for the story, and he determined to do everything he could to bring it to the screen. Thus, began a collaboration that was to take more than ten years before finding its way to the screen. “One of the great human impulses is that of bearing witness, of keeping memories alive,” says Zwick. “With DEFIANCE, I wanted to create a rich and exciting entertainment but I also felt an obligation to keep faith with those to whom it happened. It‟s not only a thrilling story, but also one that prompts many questions, provoking audiences to think about what they would have done in that time, and also to understand how it relates to our world today. Unfortunately, in such modern circumstances as
Bosnia or Darfur, we are still witnessing the horrors of genocide.”
COMPRESSING YEARS OF FIGHTING, BUILDING AND SURVIVING INTO A TIGHTLY STRUCTURED SCREENPLAY The process of writing DEFIANCE – taking the real life saga of the Bielski partisans and creating a film narrative – was lengthy and carefully considered. The script went through many iterations. “Writing this movie was always an act of faith,” says Clayton Frohman. “I never imagined we‟d actually one day wind up in Vilnius, where my grandfather was born, making this movie with such an amazing cast. For me, it was the realization of a life-long dream.” One of the biggest challenges of bringing the story to life was finding a way to compress three years of harrowing struggle, sibling rivalry, and physical hardships into a two hour movie. Even paying heed to true events, Edward Zwick notes that he was never interested in presenting a documentary. “I‟ve always seen it as a story about passionate people who manage to hold on to their humanity in the most dire circumstances,” he says. “In addition to investing in the characters, I want audiences to be on the edge of their seats, a feeling that only a movie can create. And remarkably enough, in order to do that, we didn‟t have to bowdlerize the history, because the excitement was all there in the real story.” Still, Zwick did not want to whitewash the violence committed by the partisans in the name of survival. “The Bielskis weren‟t saints,” Zwick states. “They were flawed heroes, which is what makes them so real and so fascinating. Yet I think they also found within themselves something unexpected and
magnificent. As their community grew they were forced to become real leaders, to take on huge responsibility and discover their finest selves. They faced any number of difficult moral dilemmas that the movie seeks to dramatize: Does one have to become a monster to fight monsters? Does one have to sacrifice his humanity to save humanity?” Other questions faced in the forest were of a more intimate nature. “Even in the most trying of times, especially in wartime, love and longing are never absent. People who have lost everything are in even greater need of comfort and companionship,” says Zwick. Those who have lost loved ones look to each other in their need. The concept of the “forest wife” and “forest husband” took hold – relationships were sometimes forged as much out of practicality as romance. “Many of them didn‟t know where their former spouses were, or if they were even alive. It was only human that they would reach out to one another,” says Zwick. “We glimpse this in the relationship between Zus and Bella.” For Zwick, capturing the visceral reality of what it might have been like to be hunted was key to his vision for the film. “I felt it was important for the audience to understand what it might be like to be in that situation themselves,” he says, “for people accustomed to civility to live rough and dirty, to endure cold and hunger, to be constantly afraid and remain hidden, and thus to discover their more primitive and essential natures.” The fact that, under such pressure, so many rose to the occasion and discovered unexpected bravery and compassion, is also underscored in the screenplay. Indeed, Zwick thinks the most important character in the movie isn‟t a singular individual, but rather the community they create together. “Tuvia, Zus and Asael each have their own strength but the group is what becomes invincible,” says Zwick. “The community itself is a character that begins to express its own will and identity; a fascinating dynamic develops between the expression of an individual‟s needs and the group‟s survival as a whole.” Producer Pieter Jan Brugge, an Academy Award® nominee (for THE INSIDER) who earlier worked with Zwick on GLORY, sees an allusion to American Westerns in that theme. “There‟s something in the story that has elements of the old John Ford films – this idea that you‟re not just a rugged, isolated individual but that it‟s important where you stand in relationship to others and your community,” he comments. “I think it‟s a story that continues to have great resonance in this day and time because we all want to be part of something bigger than who we are alone.” Brugge was impressed with Zwick and Frohman‟s screenplay. “It was an exhilarating read that had elements of great scale and scope, but at the same time, real emotional intimacy. It had a richness that you rarely find,” he says. He also sensed a kinship between Zwick and the material in a way he had not witnessed before. “I think this is Ed‟s most personal film in many ways,” says Brugge. “And that thrilled me, because I feel
that you can best do your job as a producer only when the director has great clarity of vision, and feels a personal necessity to tell the world this particular story. Ed brought both to DEFIANCE.”
FORGING BROTHERHOOD THROUGH CASTING The Bielski were, in many ways, typical as brothers – loving yet competitive, loyal yet fiercely individualistic. Zwick hoped for just such a dynamic to emerge between the actors he had cast. “Daniel and Liev developed a lovely, bantering, playfully competitive relationship off-screen that brought unexpected humor and feeling to their scenes together,” he notes. “Daniel and Jamie became very close as well, with Daniel taking on an almost mentoring, older brother role, both on and offcamera.” The film really took shape once Craig agreed to play the role of Tuvia, the brother who took on the mantle of leadership in the forest community. Craig is best known for his acclaimed, gritty portrayal of 007 in the latest incarnations of the beloved Bond franchise, but he has also given a wide range of intense, critically-acclaimed performances in such films as LAYER CAKE and MUNICH. It was the breadth of his abilities that attracted Zwick. Comments the director: “Daniel is at heart a very modest man, yet also quite forceful. He‟s wonderfully self-deprecating and at the same time he projects a real sense of power. He‟s a very soulful person, but he doesn‟t reveal himself right away. He‟s also physically imposing, and the one thing everyone who knew him said about Tuvia Bielski is that he was strong and charismatic. Most of all I know that, although Daniel is now a big movie star, he will always be a brave and searching actor.” It was Craig‟s ability to create a man of action who simultaneously questions those actions. As Tuvia‟s son, Mickey, says of his father: “He was a man of contradictions. I always saw him as a man who had both terrible strength and great goodness living side by side. They were equally important parts of him as a man, and sometimes I felt those qualities to be at war with each other.” Craig sees Tuvia as a kind of accidental hero – a man pushed to become something larger by the most dire of circumstances – but notes that he also sees him as representative of many others who did not survive. “I was fascinated right away by Tuvia‟s ability to take action, and by his willingness to take enormous risks for others,” he says, “but I also think he was not that different than many others in that time. It‟s just that he was successful and lived, so we can now tell his story.” Still, Craig was moved by Tuvia‟s choice to save others rather than seek revenge. “To make that decision. To say, „…okay, something needs to be done here, and I‟m the person to do it‟ -- to me, that is mind-blowing. He obviously had something in him that was so vital and full of life and so affected by the
tragedy around him that he had to find a way to take control of the situation,” he says, “and that was the greatest challenge in portraying him.” He continues: “For Tuvia, I think the motivation becomes about more than just fighting back, but about creating a family and a community. This became their reason to survive. To me, that‟s the really big theme of the film.” Craig‟s admiration for Tuvia is clear, yet his portrait is shaded with the character‟s underlying conflicts and flaws, including his tendency to rule with an iron fist. “He was really a dictator in the camp,” notes Craig, “yet his rules and regulations may have helped them all stay alive, so it raises a lot of interesting questions. He dealt with things very aggressively and some of what he did is not defensible, yet perhaps understandable in the context of all that was happening.” Yet Tuvia also harbors a hidden, tender side that is only revealed in his relationship with his “forest wife,” Lilka, with whom he builds a fragile trust. “Tuvia is certainly not looking for love,” explains Craig of his character‟s initial reticence towards real intimacy, “so that when Lilka comes into his life it really surprises him…which I think makes it even more romantic in a way. In the true story, Tuvia and Lilka stayed together for the rest of their lives, which is quite amazing. I think in that situation your partner becomes more than just your friend or your lover – they become someone who keeps you human and who boosts your survival instincts to a higher level.” If Tuvia‟s strength and steadiness made him a natural leader, his younger brother Zus‟ charisma and volatility was perfectly suited to a man of action. Zwick always saw Zus‟ journey from fury to commitment as one of the central themes of DEFIANCE. “Sometimes people find their truest selves in the worst of circumstances, and Zus is someone for whom this horrible moment becomes liberating,” says the director. “Instead of living the rest of his life with this sense of hidden injury and rage, he finds a way to express himself in violence – and Liev gives that journey an extraordinary depth of emotion.” Schreiber is both a Tony Award-winning theater actor and a versatile screen star whose roles include from LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA to the forthcoming X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. He approached the character by exploring the stark contrasts between Zus and Tuvia. “Zus is someone who is always driven to fight,” says the actor. “He starts out believing that the most important thing is to make someone pay for the loss of his family and for all that he has endured.” Ultimately, Zus‟ desire to fight takes him away from his family and broadens the film‟s story to include the Russian partisan camps. But there, although he gives his chance to seek vengeance against the Germans, Zus encounters unexpected prejudice. “It‟s a very alienating time for Zus,” says Schreiber. “He slowly begins to realize that home is where his brothers are, and that he belongs with his family.” With his sometimes uncontrollable passion and an impulse toward violence, Zus can be a divisive figure, but Schreiber warns against judging the character from the safe perspective of our modern lives.
“There is no morality in war,” he notes, “and that‟s what all the partisans were up against. It‟s what Zus is up against, and what Tuvia‟s up against, and certainly what the Allies were up against. The horror and the grief that these people endured to survive will always be as much a part of the story as their heroism.” The intensity of the role was often offset by the camaraderie he and the rest of the cast developed off-screen. “Daniel took a very playful approach, and we rehearsed a lot with each other,” he recalls. “And that‟s the best part, when you have an ensemble of people with whom you can bounce ideas around. Zus‟ character grew as we went along, and that was a real pleasure.” Starring as the third Bielski brother – Asael -- is Jamie Bell, the young English actor who burst onto the scene with his tour de force performance in the title role of BILLY ELLIOT, and more recently gave two very different performances in the quirky indie, MR. FOE, and the sci-fi thriller, JUMPER. Bell loved the realism of the sibling relationships in DEFIANCE. “Tuvia and Zus are always butting heads and Asael is perpetually in the middle, which is the way it often is in families,” he explains. “I liked that Asael is very focused on uniting the family, on loyalty, and that he grows from being the man in the middle into becoming his own person.” Asael also helps Tuvia accept the burden of his responsibility to the group. “Asael idolizes his brother, as many younger brothers do, yet when he sees him faltering he has the strength to go to him and say „You need to deal with this. You need to get on the straight and narrow, and become the person who you said you were going to be.” Bell notes that their performances were helped by an almost instant chemistry. “It was just fascinating how quickly Liev, Daniel and I developed this sibling dynamic. Even just hanging out on the set, Daniel had this kind of older brother thing going on with me. And it was easy for me to look up to him in that way, as well. He‟s a fantastic actor, seemingly unfazed by his rise to fame, and he‟s a guy at the peak of his career who‟s handling it all brilliantly. What‟s more, he‟s in love with filmmaking.” Like his brothers, Asael also unexpectedly finds a „forest wife.‟ “One of the interesting things about Asael is that he starts out very naïve and quite uncomfortable about women – so his progression to marriage is incredibly sweet,” says Bell. Bell enjoyed being part of an ensemble that seemed to grow closer every day on the set, not just among the main cast but also with the Lithuanians who played the smaller roles or served as extras. “Everyone was so dedicated and worked so incredibly hard,” he says, “it gave you the feeling of being one of the real Bielski Otriad.” And yet, Bell notes, there was a very major difference: “Every night I‟d go back to my hotel room and a hot bath and think to myself, these people never had the chance to do anything like that. They were there day in day out, in the freezing cold and the damp, in the deep snow and the mud. They were
there for the duration with every moment focused on survival. That certainly put any hardships we might have experienced while shooting into real perspective.” LIFE IN THE WOODS: THE “FOREST WIVES” AND THE VILLAGERS In the forest, the Bielskis begin an unpredictable, perilous life that nevertheless turns into something richer than they could ever have expected. As the village grows, taking in not just fighters but schoolteachers, doctors, children and the elderly, they find themselves running a diverse village, one that despite being in constant danger is also teeming with life. Like many others in the forest, each of the Bielskis meets a woman who will have a profound effect on his life. For Zwick, the casting of these “forest wives” was as essential as the casting of the brothers. To play Tuvia‟s life-long wife, Lilka -- the sophisticated woman who once studied music at university, but soon discovers a rugged, fiercely independent side of herself in the camp – he chose Alexa Davalos, the rising young actress who has recently been seen in Robert Benton‟s FEAST OF LOVE and THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. Says Zwick of Lilka: “Theirs is not a conventional love story because they believe the tasks they are doing are far more important than any feelings they might have for each other. Yet Daniel and Alexa‟s scenes together are beautiful in the way he resists her, then is finally overcome by the need for connection.” Davalos was immediately attracted to Lilka‟s profound inner strength. “I think its her ability to stand up for what‟s right that draws Tuvia to her,” she says. “She fights for what she believes in, a rare quality for a woman in those times, and something they have in common.” It is scenes such as those where Lilka and Tuvia lie in his straw bed, away from the violence and fear around them, that Davalos believes gives the film a humanity that takes it to a level beyond a mere war story. “Daniel and I talked a lot about how to portray their relationship,” she recalls. “Then we just dove in. He‟s wonderfully open and free. I think it‟s moments like these, the kind that just happen in life, that give the film the joy that is at its center. Really, this is not a film about death and dying but about surviving and living as fully as you can.” Another extraordinary young star who joined the cast of DEFIANCE is Mia Wasikowska in the role of Chaya, a city girl who captures Asael‟s heart as they hide in a cramped root cellar for days. To prepare for the role, Wasikowska – an Australian actress who recently gave a tour de force performance as a troubled teen gymnast on HBO‟s In Treatment – immersed herself in historical research, reading books, watching movies and studying Eastern European Jewish culture. “I learned so much making this movie. It‟s really opened my eyes,” she says.
Also hiding in the root cellar with Chaya is Bella, who will ultimately grow close to Zus and figure significantly in his changing perspective. To play Bella, Zwick chose the award-winning Danish actress Iben Hjelje, known only to American audiences for her role opposite John Cusack in HIGH FIDELITY. Like her cast-mates, Hjelje was captivated by the story of DEFIANCE. “One of the most interesting things to me was how it unfolds in the natural landscape,” she says. “You think about how difficult it would be just to stay alive in the woods, and yet in many ways it must also have been so invigorating to be there. Because if you were going to die, and they knew they might, I think they all believed it would be better to die in the freedom of the natural world.” The village further comes to life via a diverse ensemble of supporting characters. Two of the most intriguing are Shimon Haretz and Isaac Malbin, as intellectuals locked in an existential disputation about the spiritual life versus the secular, an argument that continues even as battle rages around them. Shimon, once Tuvia‟s schoolteacher and a deeply religious man, embodies another of the film‟s themes: the quest to understand God‟s place in a world of such suffering and destruction. Playing the role is Allan Corduner, the award-winning British actor of stage and screen, best known for Mike Leigh‟s TOPSY TURVY. For Corduner, the part was especially resonant, because his grandfather died in Auschwitz. “Stories like this one happened much more than has been reported in history,” says Corduner. “There were many acts of defiance, so it was very important to me this story be told. I also enjoyed how the script managed to be powerful without being sentimental. Much is left unsaid, which allows it to become personal for the audience.” After meeting Zwick, Corduner knew he wanted to be on board. “Here, I thought, is a director filled with energy, intellect, passion and emotion and it‟s all out there in plain sight. What a thrill it‟s going to be to do something like this with him, I thought,” recalls the actor. He was also drawn to the relationship between Shimon and Tuvia. “Shimon and Tuvia share some profound moments,” notes Corduner. “It‟s done in a very unsentimental way, at times even comical, yet these two men reaching out to each other, to connect and comfort one another is quite moving.” Paired with Shimon is his friend Isaac Malbin, portrayed by Mark Feuerstein (The West Wing and WHAT WOMEN WANT). Says Feuerstein: “Shimon and Malbin are like Estragon and Vladimir in Waiting For Godot. They represent a central dialectic in Jewish intellectual life: brilliant minds trying to come to terms with the overwhelming horror of what was happening. And they have a relationship like any Jewish family relationship, where yelling and squabbling and arguing is a form of love. In a sense, they keep each other alive through their arguments.” He continues: “The hard part for them is that, back in the real world, they felt valuable. They were thinkers who could help others understand the universe. But in the forest, that is of little value.
There what is needed is men who can build, who can use weapons, and so these men have to redefine themselves, have to learn how to work with their hands, how to fight, and do whatever it takes to survive.”
INTO THE WOODS OF VILNIUS TO RECREATE THE BIELSKI ENCAMPMENT
From the beginning, Edward Zwick knew that DEFIANCE was going to require a complex and elaborate production in order to fully capture the scale and nuance of that terrible time in history. From choreographing the action to designing the sets and costumes to capturing it all on camera, the process would be, in itself, epic. It was the collective commitment to making the film that everyone – director, producer, lead actors and supporting players, department heads and crew – that made it possible. Zwick surrounded himself with a highly accomplished artistic team, many of whom he had worked with before, including two-time Oscar nominee, Director of Photography Eduardo Serra, Production Designer Dan Weil and Oscar® winning Costume Designer Jenny Beavan. “Ed assembled much of the same team who had worked together on BLOOD DIAMOND, including Dan Weil and Eduardo Serra, both extraordinarily talented artists,” says producer Pieter Jan Brugge. “The intense feeling of the film arises not just from the performances, but also out of an accumulation of nuanced details – the layering of the characters with the costumes, props, and the design – all of which help bring the audience into a world they‟ve never seen nor heard about before.” The first question was where to shoot the film? Since Belarus is now a dictatorship, filming there was out of the question. Instead, a search of the surrounding Eastern European countries led Zwick and his creative team to Vilnius, Lithuania, which offered both an authentic landscape and a small but eager filmmaking community. “The forests of Lithuania are absolutely extraordinary,” says Brugge. “Once we saw them, we knew we would never find an environment better suited to shooting this movie. And it was very helpful that we would be able to access these locations from a city situated less than an hour away.” The city also contained many heart-rending reminders of what the Jews of Vilnius experienced when German troops entered the city in June of 1941, killing 21,000 upon their arrival and herding the remainder into two prison-like ghettoes in the traditional Jewish quarter. Then in 1943, the ghetto was liquidated and those left alive were sent to Nazi camps in Estonia and Poland or murdered and buried in unmarked graves in the nearby forests. Of a community once estimated at 60,000, there remain today
only a very small number of Jews in Vilnius, but the survivors were particularly excited by the film. Many who had been in the forest as refugees visited the set and marveled at its authenticity. Some even worked as extras. “It was moving to all of us to be in a place where so many of these events took place,” says Zwick. “You cannot help but feel the ghosts. You sense the presence of the past all around you and you want to be true to it. You want to evoke that spirit and help keep it alive by creating a story that might be told to future generations.” In working with Serra, who garnered Academy Award® nominations for his work on the period films GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, Zwick wanted the visual style to emphasize a sense of visceral immediacy, rather than of past history. “We wanted the audience to feel that these events are happening in the moment. We neither wanted it to feel antique nor too modern or flashy that might distract from the story,” Zwick explains. “The low northern light gave us a kind of natural de-saturation that emphasized the darkness of the woods, the wetness of the moss, the absence of sky, what it must have felt like to be in that place for months on end.” Hours and hours were spent pouring through Russian photography archives, which were rife with heart-stopping images of the local partisans who had managed to document their experience. “There are so many provocative images, not just from Belarus, but Lithuania, the Ukraine, Poland. It was a treasure trove,” recalls Zwick. Though they wanted a modern sense of action, Serra and Zwick resisted getting too overtly stylistic with camera movements, in order to keep the focus on the story and the characters. “Sometimes you need to just let a story tell itself and get out of its way,” remarks Zwick. “We were all humbled by the lives of the people whose story we were telling and the desire to honor them.” A similar sense imbued the work of Dan Weil, whose recent credits includes memorable designs for SYRIANA and THE BOURNE IDENTITY. Weil essentially built the forest village by hand, nail by nail, just as the Bielski Otriad had done decades ago -- even going so far as to dig out the underground bunkers, called zemlyankas, where the camp members slept in straw bunks. “Dan was literally chopping wood and building things the way they would have back then in the forest,” muses Brugge. “It was all in the service of giving people the experience of what it must have been like for those who lived through it.” Costume designer Jenny Beavan – an 8-time Academy Award® nominee who won the Oscar® for Merchant-Ivory classic ROOM WITH A VIEW -- faced similar challenges of bringing her work to life as she labored to meld character into clothing that was often little more than rags. Says Zwick: “Jenny was able, with a tiny budget, to give a sense of each person‟s life before they came to the forest, of who they once were, and then of how they adapted to living in the new circumstances.”
The cast found that Beavan‟s clothing helped to keep in mind all that their characters‟ had been through. Says Alexa Davalos: “Jenny is an artist who really understands that she is giving the actor a second skin, and her clothes feel so authentic right down to the cuffs. In the case of Lilka, you see in her clothing how she is holding onto a shadow of who she was before, even though she now wears a man‟s jacket, trousers and belt. Her costumes were a real gift to us.” Shooting almost entirely outdoors, the production faced its share of travails, from the freezing rain off the Baltic, to the damp cold and snow of the Lithuanian lowlands. But the cast and crew offered few complaints. Instead, they all spoke of the remarkable endurance of the real life characters, and how even a glimpse of what they‟d gone through to stay alive kept them motivated. Summarizes Brugge: “What we went through as a cast and crew could only approximate in the smallest way what these people endured during those years living on the run in the woods. For each of us, it was a deeply humbling experience to come to a personal understanding of what it must have been like and how meaningful it is that they survived to tell the tale.”
THE MUSIC OF DEFIANCE The final color in creating the world of DEFIANCE was its music. “I often think about filmmaking itself in terms of music,” Zwick explains. “For me, the film has passages that are allegro, andante, and adagio. There‟s a rhythm to storytelling, especially in trying to give the audience the time to fully experience moments before you‟re on to something else.” That musicality is echoed in a stark and compelling score by James Newton Howard, a seventime Oscar® nominee who reunites with Zwick after working together on BLOOD DIAMOND. Howard and Zwick decided to recruit the dynamic, young violinist Joshua Bell to play the score‟s haunting, evocative solos, in part in tribute to the many lost artists of Europe. “I wanted to have a score that was not only appropriate historically but also emotionally appropriate,” says Zwick. “The sound of the violin is central to Eastern European Jewish culture; it is the sound of what was lost. And so it became the centerpiece, with everything else embroidered around it.” Zwick and Howard began talking about the music quite early on in the process. “It was an enormous pleasure to watch James wrestle with the themes, and marvel as the score grew,” says the director. “James is both prolific and enormously self-critical. Melody just flows from him yet he is never satisfied. We probably discarded as much beautiful music as we used in the final score.” As with Zwick, Howard found the story had a personal effect on him. “It‟s been a very moving experience, a very meaningful experience and also a real joy for me to write this score. My father was Jewish, so there is in me, I think, a Jewish soul that comes out in the music,” he says.
He enjoyed focusing on the musical versatility of the violin. “The violin can express the complete range of human emotion. It can be joyful and jaunty or it can sound like it‟s moaning and crying. And it can express great longing and loss, which is so strong in this story,” he says. “The violin is so emotional that the key was keeping the music reined in so it doesn‟t tip over into sentimentality. I took a minimalist approach, with the score‟s melodies rooted in simple harmonies.” Howard especially enjoyed working with the renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, who played a similar role as the soloist for the Oscar®-winning THE RED VIOLIN. Says Bell: “I don‟t do a lot of film scores but this story was just so interesting. I come from a Jewish heritage – in fact my grandmother lived very close to where the story takes place – yet I was shocked that I‟d never heard this story. It was eye-opening for me -- and when they sent me some of James Newton Howard‟s music, it was just so beautiful, I was delighted to be asked to take part in it.” Bell agrees that the violin seems to suit the characters of DEFIANCE in their strength and passion. “The violin is so central to Jewish tradition in that part of Europe and it‟s also a sound that goes straight to the heart,” he observes. “What James and I worked on was a balancing act to strike just the right tone, powerful but not melodramatic.” Howard was moved by the way in which Bell did just that. “He‟s one of our great living violinists and I felt he took the score and made it a thousand times better,” says the composer. Once the score was complete, subtlety continued to be the guiding principle in weaving the music through the picture. The film‟s 3-time Oscar® nominated editor Steven Rosenblum explains: “James Newton Howard wields his music like scalpel, as opposed to a broad sword, which is just what this film called for. Ed and I love his music so much we might have had a tendency to overplay our hand, had James not resisted it. He understood this film had its own rhythms to which the music had to be true.”
A LASTING LEGACY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF BIELSKIS
Throughout the production, Zwick maintained a close relationship with the extended Bielski family, especially the first-generation children of Tuvia and Zus, for whom the movie became a chance to preserve their parents‟ legacy for future generations. For the Bielski family, it had been a life-long struggle to have their parents‟ story told. They recall that, growing up, they had had to dig tenaciously to get even tidbits of what happened before they were born. Mickey Bielski, Tuvia‟s oldest son, remembers that it was other people who first mentioned the incredible secrets in his father‟s past. “I actually heard other survivors talking about it before he did. Out of the blue, someone would say something dramatic, such as „Your father saved my life,‟ he says. “I had no idea what they were talking about, but it certainly piqued my interest.”
Like many Holocaust survivors, Tuvia Bielski found it difficult to talk about the past and focused instead on creating a better future for his children in America. Says Mickey: “I think my parents just wanted to be normal citizens taking care of their family, but we all began to realize they had a very special story.” It was the children who first encouraged their parents to open up more, though it was never easy. Another of Tuvia‟s sons, Robert Bielski recalls: “My father would get very emotional when he told stories from that time, and the older he got, the more emotional he became. So it was very hard to get the complete stories out of him. He would start off strong, but then it would get to him and he couldn‟t go on.” Still, the children‟s interest began to make headway. “Once they realized how important it was for us to know they began to tell the story and we were in awe. And I still am,” says Ruth Bielski, Tuvia‟s daughter. Zvi Bielski, one of Zus‟ sons, notes that his father was a bit more forthcoming than his more taciturn elder. “He always emphasized how they took their revenge on the Nazis. He was very proud of that – but he was most proud of all the people they saved,” he recalls. “The real legacy of the Bielskis is that so many people are here on earth who might never have lived.” For the Bielski children, the idea of a movie was very exciting – not so much because it was about their parents but because it meant this vital story would not die with their memories. Says Ruth Bielski: “My father always knew the story would not be told in his lifetime. And it is bittersweet that he is gone, but I believe this movie will do justice and honor to all their memories. The responsibility is in our hands now to pass the story on to our children, and to hope that our children pass it on to their children. I think this film will assure that happens.” Robert Bielski remembers that when Edward Zwick first met with the family in New York it seemed to bring all their hopes full circle. “He offered us his vision of what the movie was going be,” he says, “and we felt he had it right on target: the sense of what the story was really about, the sense of who the brothers really were. What he also understood was the enormity of having so many survive, this monumental notion of 1200 people walking out of the woods who would go on to create five more generations.”
ABOUT THE CAST
DANIEL CRAIG (Tuvia Bielski) recently undertook his second outing as “James Bond” in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, directed by Marc Forster. Born in 1968 in Chester and raised near
Liverpool, Daniel was first introduced to theater at The Liverpool Everyman. When he reached his late teens, he moved to London to join the National Youth Theatre, before continuing his training at the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and has since secured roles in television, theater and film, and gone on to become regarded as one of Britain‟s finest actors. Daniel‟s earlier film credits include LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, ELIZABETH, HOTEL SPLENDIDE, I DREAMED OF AFRICA, LOVE AND RAGE, OBSESSION and THE POWER OF ONE. In 2002 he garnered much critical acclaim for his role in Sam Mendes‟ THE ROAD TO PERDITION. In 2003 Daniel was seen starring in THE MOTHER, based on a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Roger Michell. The following year he starred opposite Gwyneth Paltrow as “Ted Hughes” in SYLVIA about the lives of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. In 2005 he was seen supporting Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in THE JACKET, in Matthew Vaughn‟s directorial debut LAYER CAKE and also featuring in Michell‟s critically acclaimed ENDURING LOVE (based on the novel by Ian McEwan). The following year audiences saw him in Steven Spielberg‟s Oscar® nominated MUNICH and he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination (Best Supporting Actor) for his role in Douglas McGrath‟s INFAMOUS which also starred Sandra Bullock and Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2006 he was seen playing the sixth “James Bond” in CASINO ROYALE for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination (Best Actor) and an Empire Magazine Award (Best Actor), and the film became the highest grossing film in the history of the 007 franchise. Last year, audiences saw Daniel in THE GOLDEN COMPASS co-starring Nicole Kidman and Eva Green, and FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL, released in April of this year. A highly accomplished stage actor, Daniel‟s theater credits include leading roles in “Hurlyburly‖ with the Peter Hall Company at the Old Vic, and “Angels in America‖ at The National Theatre, and in “A Number‖ at the Royal Court Theatre alongside Michael Gambon. Daniel has numerous television credits including notable projects such as the BBC‟s adaptation of Michael Frayn‟s award-winning drama Copenhagen, Our Friends in the North, Sword of Honour, The Ice House, ‗The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, Kiss and Tell, Sharpe‘s Eagle and in the two-part BBC film Archangel, based on Robert Harris‟ book of the same name.
LIEV SCHREIBER’S (Zus Bielski) repertoire of resonant, moving and oftentimes gritty performances has garnered the actor high praise in film, theatre and television. Schreiber‟s upcoming projects only continue this path. In 2009, Schreiber will star in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE as “Victor Creed”, the beastly nemesis of Wolverine, a role revisited by Hugh Jackman. In this prequel to the hit X-MEN trilogy, Jackman‟s Wolverine is keen on seeking revenge against Creed (who is secretly the mutant Sabretooth) for killing his love. Gavin Hood directs this new feature, with a screenplay by David Benioff. Showing his versatility, Schreiber most recently appeared in two period adaptations. The year 2007 showed Schreiber in Mike Newell's LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, alongside Benjamin Bratt and Javier Bardem. THE PAINTED VEIL, also starring Ed Norton and Naomi Watts, was released in December 2006. Schreiber has also starred alongside Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, Julia Stiles in THE OMEN, Ben Affleck in THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, and Hugh Jackman in KATE & LEOPOLD. Drawing on his extensive theater and Shakespeare experience, Schreiber starred as “Laertes” in HAMLET, across from actor/director Ethan Hawke. Schreiber also starred in THE HURRICANE, the acclaimed biopic starring Denzel Washington, as well as opposite Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen in the moving drama, A WALK ON THE MOON. An accomplished stage actor, Schreiber‟s portrayal of Ricky Roma in the 2005 Broadway revival of David Mamet's “Glengarry Glen Ross‖ earned him a Tony Award. In the summer of 2006, Schreiber returned to the stage in the Public Theater's production of “Macbeth‖ opposite Jennifer Ehle, directed by Moises Kaufman. Shakespeare in the Park's “Macbeth‖ was staged at the The Delacorte Theater in Central Park. In early 2007, Schreiber returned to Broadway to star in Eric Bogosian's “Talk Radio.‖ This first Broadway staging of “Talk Radio‖ opened at the Longacre Theater in March of that year. Ben Brantley of The New York Times declared, “With “Talk Radio‖ Mr. Schreiber…confirms his status as the finest American theater actor of his generation.” Schreiber was nominated for his second Tony for his performance of radio host “Barry Champlain.” Schreiber‟s deft portrayal of “Orson Welles” in HBO‟s RKO 281 landed him both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He followed that up with a powerful cameo in George C. Wolfe‟s Lackawanna Blues starring S. Epatha Merkerson, also for HBO. One of America‟s foremost narrators, Schreiber has lent his voice to renown HBO sports documentaries including Mantle, :03 Seconds to Gold, and A City on Fire: The Story of the ‘68 Detroit Tigers, as well as the PBS documentary series‟ The American Experience, NOVA and Nature.
In 2005, Schreiber made his directorial debut with EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED,
adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer's bestselling novel of the same name. Prior to publication of the novel, Schreiber read an excerpt in The New Yorker, secured the rights himself, wrote the screenplay and subsequently brought the project to Warner Bros. The film, starring Elijah Wood, was recognized by the 2006 National Film Board as one of the top ten films of the year.
JAMIE BELL (Asael Bielski) is best known for his award-winning starring role in Stephen Daldry‟s highly acclaimed BILLY ELLIOT. Amongst his many awards for this role, he won the Best Actor award at the BAFTAs and the Best Newcomer Award for the British Film Independent Awards. Jamie went on to join an all-star cast in Douglas McGrath‟s NICHOLAS NICKLEBY in the role of “Smike.” He then played a lead role in David Gordon Green‟s UNDERTOW opposite Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas and went onto star in the lead role in DEAR WENDY, directed by the award winning director Thomas Vinterberg. He also starred in CHUMBSCRUBBER opposite Ralph Fiennes and Glenn Close and then went on to Peter Jackson‟s KING KONG. Bell next worked with Clint Eastwood on FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and then starred in HALLAM FOE, in the title role, for David Mckenzie. Most recently, he played a lead role in Fox Studio‟s JUMPER for director Doug Liman.
ALEXA DAVALOS (Lilka) received rave reviews for her performance in FEAST OF LOVE opposite Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. The film, directed by multiple Academy Award® winner Robert Benton, revolves around a community of friends in Oregon, exploring the magical, mysterious and sometimes painful incarnations of love. In the same year she was also seen in The Weinstein Company‟s THE MIST, a collaboration between Oscar® nominated director Frank Darabont and Stephen King. In 2004, Alexa starred opposite Vin Diesel in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, costarring Thandie Newton, Judi Dench and Colm Feore. In 2003, Alexa made her television debut in Larry Gelbart‟s And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself directed by Bruce Beresford for HBO Films, opposite Antonio Banderas. Her other credits include Raines on NBC, which featured Jeff Goldblum and a starring role as Diane Keaton‟s daughter in Surrender Dorothy on CBS. In 2005, Alexa played “Samantha Dorothy” in the FOX drama series Reunion.
ALLAN CORDUNER (Shimon) is an accomplished actor whose career spans three decades of theater, television and film roles. His film work includes starring roles in THE GREY ZONE and as “Sir Arthur Sullivan” in Mike Leigh‟s award-winning TOPSY TURVY, as well as
more than 20 other films including VERA DRAKE, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, THE WHITE COUNTESS, DE-LOVELY, ME WITHOUT YOU, THE SEARCH FOR JOHN GISSING, JOE GOULD‟S SECRET, THE IMPOSTORS, ALIVE AND KICKING, GLADIATOR, HEART OF DARKNESS, TALK RADIO, YENTL and the upcoming MR NOBODY. He has also starred on the London Stage, most recently at The National Theatre in Mike Leigh‟s ―2000 Years‖, and in numerous productions at The Royal Court and in the West End, including ―Master Class‖ and ―Amadeus‖ and, on Broadway, in ―Serious Money‖ and ―Titanic‖. On television, Allan has appeared in numerous British and American productions including Trust, the award-winning The Way We Live Now, Fat Friends, Daniel Deronda, Mad About You, Inspector Morse, Minder, Mandela and HBO‟s Norma Jean and Marilyn.
MARK FEUERSTEIN (Isaac) has received critical acclaim for his roles in theater, film, and television. One of the few actors working successfully and simultaneously in theater, film and television, Feuerstein has become one of Hollywood‟s most sought-after talents. Mark will next be seen in the independent film LOVE SHACK, a mockumentary set in the world of adult filmmaking. Feuerstein was recently seen in the Curtis Hanson film IN HER SHOES starring opposite Toni Colette, Cameron Diaz and Shirley Maclaine. He was also previously seen in the independent film SHUT UP AND SING, starring opposite Molly Shannon. Additional film credits include ABANDON, WHAT WOMEN WANT, THE MUSE, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, WOMAN ON TOP, and PRACTICAL MAGIC. In conjunction with his film work, Mark appears regularly on the small screen. Feuerstein recently completed production on the USA pilot Royal Pains. The series will focus on Dr. Hank Lawson, an ER doctor at Brooklyn Heights Mercy Hospital who suddenly finds himself jobless, single, and buried in debt but his life turns upside down after he saves the life of a supermodel at an exclusive Hamptons party. In addition, Mark was recently seen starring opposite Stanley Tucci in the CBS drama about neurosurgeons and the brain itself, 3 lbs. Most memorably, Mark has played young Republican lawyer Cliff Calley on The West Wing, and a coffee-shop owning bisexual judge on Ally McBeal. In addition, he played Leo, the rumpled bike-riding surgeon on Once and Again as well as Josh, the ophthalmologist who was so bad in bed Miranda had to fake her orgasms in Sex and the City.
Additional television credits include Caroline in the City, Conrad Bloom, Fired Up, and Good Morning, Miami. Mark made his Broadway debut starring in Alfred Uhry‟s Tony Award winning play “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.‖ Most recently, Feuerstein played to sold-out audiences and garnered amazing reviews for his performance in Roger Kumble‟s hilarious dark comedy about the biz, “Turnaround.‖ His extensive theater resume includes performances in ―Twelfth Night,‖ ―Awake & Sing,‖ ―Dark Rapture,‖ ―The Misanthrope,‖ ―Three Sisters,‖ ―A Streetcar Named Desire‖, and ―King Lear.‖
MIA WASIKOWSKA (Chaya) has, in a short time, established herself as a rising star of the big and small screen. A trained ballerina turned actress, Wasikowska has been challenging herself as a performer since the age of 9. Wasikowska recently received critical praise from television critics for her portrayal of the tormented and suicidal teen “Sophie” in HBO‟s series In Treatment. Produced by Mark Wahlberg and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, In Treatment focuses on the relationship between a therapist (Gabriel Byrne) and his patients. In recognition of her performance, Wasikowska was honored by the Los Angeles based organization Australians in Film (whose Host Committee includes Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, among others) with the “Breakthrough Actress” Award. Currently, Wasikowska is in production as the title character in Tim Burton‟s retelling of the Lewis Carroll novel, Alice In Wonderland. The Disney film will shoot primarily in Los Angeles and London and is set for a 2010 release. Wasikowska recently wrapped production in Toronto on the Fox Searchlight film, AMELIA starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere for director Mira Nair. The biopic tells the story of the famous female navigator “Amelia Earhart” (Swank) who disappeared on a solo flight across the Pacific in an effort to fly around the world. Wasikowska portrays “Elinor”, a young fan of Earhart whose motivations for building a relationship with Earhart are questioned by her reliable friend “George” (Gere). Wasikowska began her acting career in her home country of Australia, landing a recurring role on the popular medical drama All Saints. Upon landing her first major role in the independent film SUBURBAN MAYHEM, Wasikowska was recognized by the Australian Film Institute Awards with the “Best Young Actor” award. She followed up these projects with acclaimed performances in LENS LOVE STORY, SKIN (a short film), SEPTEMBER, and in the Australian horror film ROGUE alongside Michael Vartan and Radha Mitchell.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Born in Winnetka, Illinois, EDWARD ZWICK (Director/Writer/Producer) began directing and acting in high school and trained as an apprentice at the Academy Festival in Lake Forest. While studying literature at Harvard, he continued writing and directing for the theater. Upon graduation, he was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship to study in Europe with some of the major innovative theater companies. Zwick was accepted as a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute in 1975. TIMOTHY AND THE ANGEL, Zwick‟s AFI short film, won first place in the student film competition at the 1976 Chicago Film Festival and caught the attention of the producers of the television series, Family. He served as story editor on Family and subsequently became a director and producer of the award-winning series. For his work on the television movie Special Bulletin (as director, producer and cowriter), Zwick received two Emmy Awards. It also marked the beginning of his collaboration with Marshall Herskovitz, with whom he then created the Emmy Award winning television series, thirtysomething. Together Herskovitz and Zwick created The Bedford Falls Company as their home for film and television projects, including the critically acclaimed television series My So-Called Life, Relativity and the Emmy Award and Golden Globe award winning series Once And Again. Zwick began his feature film career directing ABOUT LAST NIGHT. He went on to direct the Academy Award winning films GLORY and LEGENDS OF THE FALL. Zwick also directed the films COURAGE UNDER FIRE, THE SIEGE, THE LAST SAMURAI and BLOOD DIAMOND. Zwick and Herskovitz also produced the films I AM SAM, and TRAFFIC -- winner of two Golden Globes and four Academy Awards. Zwick has been honored with three Emmy Awards, the Humanitas Prize, the Writer‟s Guild of America Award, two Peabody Awards, a Director‟s Guild of America Award, and the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Award from the American Film Institute. He received an Academy Award as a producer of 1999‟s Best Picture SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.
CLAYTON FROHMAN (Writer/Co-Producer) was born and raised in Chicago. He attended Washington University in St. Louis. After working as a journalist for the St. Louis PostDispatch and Rolling Stone he turned to writing movies including UNDER FIRE, THE COURTMARTIAL OF JACKIE ROBINSON and THE DELINQUENTS. He lives in Los Angeles.
PIETER JAN BRUGGE (Producer) was born in Deventer, the Netherlands, and studied film at “De Nederlandse Film & Televisie Akademie” in Amsterdam. Upon graduation, he was awarded a scholarship by the Dutch Ministry of Cultural Affairs to continue his studies in the United States. He was accepted as a producing fellow at the American Film Institute, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in film production in 1980. Brugge started his producing career with the Dutch theatrical motion picture DE AFSTAND directed by Jean van de Velde. He served as co-producer on Edward Zwick‟s GLORY, winner of three Academy Awards, and produced Alan J. Pakula‟s THE PELICAN BRIEF and Warren Beatty‟s political satire BULWORTH. He executive produced Michael Mann‟s HEAT, and went on to produce MIAMI VICE and THE INSIDER, which was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1999. In 2004, Brugge directed, produced and co-wrote THE CLEARING, starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren and Willem Dafoe. DEFIANCE is Brugge‟s second collaboration with Edward Zwick.
MARSHALL HERSKOVITZ (Executive Producer) is a writer, producer and director in Los Angeles who has won many awards for his work in television and films. Born in Philadelphia, he attended Brandeis University, then moved to Los Angeles in 1975, where he attended the American Film Institute and met his longtime creative partner Edward Zwick. In the years since, he helped create such series as thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, and Once And Again. Among the films he has produced are LEGENDS OF THE FALL, TRAFFIC, I AM SAM, THE LAST SAMURAI, and BLOOD DIAMOND. He also directed JACK THE BEAR and DANGEROUS BEAUTY. In 2007 Herskovitz migrated to the Internet with quarterlife, the ground-breaking online series and social network dedicated to artistic, activist twenty-somethings. Less than a year after launching, the fast-growing website – www.quarterlife.com - has become an international destination with members in 60 countries, and the series has become the third most successful scripted program in Internet history. Herskovitz is a longtime environmentalist, having served on the board of several organizations dedicated to preserving America‟s precious natural resources. He is also a founding member of the 1Sky campaign. He currently serves as President of the Producers Guild of America.
EDUARDO SERRA (Director of Photography), who previously worked with Edward Zwick on BLOOD DIAMOND, is a two-time Academy Award® nominee for his work on GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and THE WINGS OF THE DOVE. In addition, he earned BAFTA Award nominations for both films, winning the award for the latter. For his cinematography on GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, he was further honored by a number of critics groups, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and won several international film awards including the European Film Academy Award. Born in Portugal, Serra has worked extensively in both Hollywood and Europe. He has shot more than 30 films in France, which is his adopted home, and received a César Award nomination for his work on LE MARI DE LA COIFFEUSE, one of eight collaborations with Patrice Leconte. He has also shot seven films for director Claude Chabrol, most recently including LA FILLE COUPÉE EN DEUX and BELLAMY.
DAN WEIL (Production Designer) most recently served as the production designer for the French comedy LES DEUX MONDE, for Edward Zwick‟s acclaimed BLOOD DIAMOND and for Stephen Gaghan's award-winning SYRIANA, for which Weil earned his second Art Directors Guild Award nomination from his peers. He previously received a nomination for his work on Doug Liman's stylish thriller THE BOURNE IDENTITY. A native of France, Weil was honored with a César Award for his production design on the Luc Besson film THE FIFTH ELEMENT, and also received a César nomination for Besson's popular thriller LA FEMME NIKITA. His collaborations with Besson further include the films THE BIG BLUE, THE PROFESSIONAL and THE DANCER. Among Weil‟s additional credits are KING ARTHUR, THE LIBERTINE, BEAUTIFUL MOTHER, TOTAL ECLIPSE, LES TRUFFES, HORS LA VIE and TRISTESSE ET BEAUTÉ.
VÉRONIQUE MELERY (Set Decorator) began working in Belgium under famous production designers and attributed much of her success in the field to sheer luck. Her mentors sharpened her skills and taught her a great deal about the importance of the smallest object on set. She later moved to France, where she was offered a job as a production designer and set decorator. Véronique‟s set decorator credits include ASTERIX 1, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, MARIE ANTOINETTE, and CHERI.
STEVEN ROSENBLUM (Editor) has had a long and fruitful association with director Edward Zwick, dating back to the television series thirtysomething, for which Rosenblum won an
Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing for a Series. Their first feature film collaboration was the Civil War drama GLORY which brought Rosenblum his first Academy Award® nomination for Best Editing. Rosenblum earned his second Oscar® nomination for his work on the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture BRAVEHEART directed by and starring Mel Gibson, and a third nomination for Zwick‟s BLOOD DIAMOND. Rosenblum has also edited the Zwick-directed features LEGENDS OF THE FALL, COURAGE UNDER FIRE, THE SIEGE and THE LAST SAMURAI. In addition, he worked on Marshall Herskovitz's directorial debut feature, JACK THE BEAR. Other collaborations include Tom Dey's FAILURE TO LAUNCH, Lee Tamahori's XXX 2: THE NEXT LEVEL, Shekhar Kapur's THE FOUR FEATHERS, Michael Bay's PEARL HARBOR and Bryan Singer's X-MEN. His additional film credits include BEYOND THE SEA, directed by and starring Kevin Spacey; M. Night Shyamalan's UNBREAKABLE; WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, starring Robin Williams; Michael Winterbottom's JUDE; and MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART, among many others. Up next is his first 3-D experience, Eric Brevig‟s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. JENNY BEAVAN’S (Costume Designer) costume credits include several landmark productions including Robert Altman‟s GOSFORD PARK, Ang Lee‟s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Franco Zefferelli‟s TEA WITH MUSSOLINI and many of Merchant Ivory‟s best known films including A ROOM WITH A VIEW for which she won the Oscar®. Jenny has been nominated numerous times for her work, winning a BAFTA for GOSFORD PARK and an Emmy for Emma. In 2007 Jenny‟s work spanned all three disciplines: “Present Laughter‖ with director Howard Davies at London‟s National Theatre, the TV mini-series Cranford for the BBC and DEFIANCE for Edward Zwick.
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (Composer) is one of the most versatile and in-demand composers currently working in films. To date, Howard has received seven Oscar® nominations, including five for Best Original Score for MICHAEL CLAYTON, THE VILLAGE, THE FUGITIVE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES, and MY BEST FRIEND‟S WEDDING, and two for Best Original Song, including “Look What Love Has Done” from JUNIOR and “For The First Time” from the film ONE FINE DAY. He has also received four Grammy nominations, for music from the Edward Zwick film BLOOD DIAMOND, the animated Disney film DINOSAUR, the M. Night Shyamalan film
SIGNS, and the song from ONE FINE DAY. His theme for DYING YOUNG also brought a Grammy nod to performer Kenny G. In addition, he won an Emmy for the theme to the Andre Braugher series Gideon‘s Crossing and two additional Emmy nominations, for the themes to the long-running Warner Bros. series ER and the Ving Rhames series Men. Howard has also been nominated three times for Golden Globe Awards: for his massive orchestral score for Universal Pictures‟ blockbuster KING KONG, and for the songs of JUNIOR and ONE FINE DAY. Howard, who has been honored with ASCAP‟s prestigious Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement, now has nearly 100 films to his credit. Among them are all of M. Night Shyamalan‟s films, THE SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, SIGNS, THE VILLAGE, and LADY IN THE WATER; five films for director Lawrence Kasdan, GRAND CANYON, WYATT EARP, FRENCH KISS, MUMFORD and DREAMCATCHER; four Julia Roberts comedies, PRETTY WOMAN, RUNAWAY BRIDE, MY BEST FRIEND‟S WEDDING, and AMERICA‟S SWEETHEARTS; and three animated films for Walt Disney Studios, DINOSAUR, TREASURE PLANET, and ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE. His other wide-ranging credits include THE GREAT DEBATERS (with Peter Golub), WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP, THE LOOKOUT, BLOOD DIAMOND, KING KONG, BATMAN BEGINS, COLLATERAL, OUTBREAK, FALLING DOWN, PRIMAL FEAR, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, WATERWORLD, THE DEVIL‟S ADVOCATE, SPACE JAM, DAVE and FLATLINERS among others. Howard‟s success reflects the experiences of a rich musical past. Inspired by his grandmother, a classical violinist who played in the Pittsburgh Symphony in the „30s and „40s, he began his studies on the piano at age four. After studying at Santa Barbara Musical Academy of the West and at USC School of Music as a piano major, he completed his formal education with orchestration study under legendary arranger Marty Paich. Though his training was classical, he maintained an interest in rock and pop, and it was his early work in the pop arena that allowed him to hone his talents as a musician, arranger, songwriter and producer. He spent two years doing session work for performers like Carly Simon, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, Leo Sayer, Harry Nilsson and Melissa Manchester. He also recorded two solo albums. In 1975, he joined pop superstar Elton John‟s band on the road and in the studio. Howard left the band in 1976 to do more record production. He would rejoin the band in 1980 for another tour and again in 1986 to conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for John‟s “Live in Australia” tour, which later became a platinum-selling album.
Having become one of the most sought-after musicians in the industry, he racked up a string of collaborations in the studio with some of pop‟s biggest names, including Barbra Streisand, Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Toto, Glen Frey, Olivia Newton-John, Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, Cher and Chaka Khan. When he was offered his first film, HEAD OFFICE, in 1985, he never looked back. As a change of pace, Howard reunited with Elton John for a multi-city tour the summer of 2004 that included sold-out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Radio City Music Hall in New York. Howard‟s most recent films include Mike Nichols‟ CHARLIE WILSON‟S WAR starring Tom Hanks, Francis Lawrence‟s box office hit I AM LEGEND, and Tony Gilroy‟s legal thriller MICHAEL CLAYTON. In the summer of 2008, Howard reunited with M. Night Shyamalan on THE HAPPENING as well as Christopher Nolan on THE DARK KNIGHT (w/Hans Zimmer). JOSHUA BELL (Violinist) has captured the public‟s imagination like no other classical violinist of his time. He came to national attention at the age of 14 in a highly acclaimed orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A Carnegie Hall debut, the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and a recording contract further confirmed his presence in the music world. Bell‟s 2008/09 season kicked off with the September world-wide Sony Classical release of Vivaldi: The Four Seasons recorded with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, his return to his alma mater – Indiana University‟s Jacobs School of Music as a senior lecturer, and the 10th anniversary DVD release of THE RED VIOLIN film featuring Bell on the Oscar®winning soundtrack for Best Original Score. An exclusive Sony Classical artist known for his breadth and daring choices of repertoire, Bell has created a richly varied catalogue of recordings. Recent releases include The Red Violin Concerto by John Corigliano, The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, The Essential Joshua Bell, Voice of the Violin and Romance of the Violin which Billboard named the 2004 Classical CD of the Year, and Bell the Classical Artist of the Year. His 2008/09 performance season includes concerts with the New York Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony, in addition to the Indianapolis, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle, Syracuse and Oregon orchestras. International dates include a tour with the Verbier UBS Festival Orchestra to Athens, Lisbon, Berlin and Munich performing Vivaldi‟s The Four Seasons. He will also perform with the Spanish National Orchestra in Madrid, and in Paris with the Orchestra Philharmonic de Radio France. Bell closes 2008 with a performance at London‟s Wigmore Hall. 2009 highlights include Miami‟s New World Symphony, Lincoln Center Great Performers Series, and a European tour
with the Minneapolis Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska. After a performance at the 92nd Street Y with long-time collaborator Steven Isserlis, he returns to Europe to tour with the Camerata Academia followed by a European recital tour with Jeremy Denk. Bell‟s schedule continues with performances in Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Denver and Phoenix. In addition to his concert career, Bell enjoys chamber music collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Steven Isserlis and Edgar Meyer as well as occasional collaborations with artists outside the classical arena, having shared the stage with Josh Groban, James Taylor and Sting. He made his first recording at the age of 18, and he has an extensive catalogue of classical recordings resulting in a distinctive and wide-ranging body of work. Bell‟s performances for Sony Classical film soundtracks include the Classical Britnominated LADIES IN LAVENDER and Academy Award-winning film IRIS, in an original score by James Horner. Bell has also appeared as himself in the film MUSIC OF THE HEART starring Meryl Streep, and a number of television programs including Late Night with Conan O‘Brien, The Tonight Show, CBS Sunday Morning and the PBS programs Great Performances— Joshua Bell: West Side Story Suite from Central Park. He was one of the first classical artists to have a music video air on VH1, and he has been the subject of a BBC Omnibus documentary. Bell has been profiled in publications ranging from Newsweek to People Magazine‟s “50 Most Beautiful People” issue, Gramophone and The New York Times.
NECHAMA TEC (Author), Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Connecticut, Stamford, received her PhD from Columbia University. A Holocaust scholar, for years, Tec‟s research and publications have concentrated on the intricate relationships between selfpreservation, compassion, altruism, rescue, resistance, cooperation, and gender. She is currently working on two books: 1. Profiles of Women; 2. A Comparative Study of Jewish and Non-Jewish Resistance. On April 6, 2003, Tec received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Seton Hall University. In 2002, she was appointed by President Bush to the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C. Tec also serves on the Academic Advisory Committee at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. In 1997, she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In 1995, she was a Scholar-in-Residence at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
Tec is the author of the following books: Letters of Hope and Despair, Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust which won the 2002-2003 National Jewish Book Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She has also published In The Lion‟s Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen which also won The Christopher Award and When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland which received the Merit of Distinction Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B‟nai B‟rith. Her earlier two books are Grass is Green in Suburbia: A Sociological Study of Adolescent Use of Illicit Drugs and Gambling in Sweden. Her books have been translated into Dutch, French, Hebrew, German, Italian and Polish. Nechama Tec is also the author of over seventy scholarly articles and continues to be a frequent lecturer at international and national meetings and conferences. Over the years Tec‟s research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and others.