Love - A War Story


TYPE
: Narrative Short
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Pre-Production

LOGLINE

Two men in love - a Jew and a brother of a Catholic priest - masquerading as priests and brothers, attempt a daring train escape from Nazi-occupied Poland when they encounter a SS Officer who isn't convinced of their cover story.

SYNOPSIS

Poland, April 1943. Michal, a Pole, has agreed to help Szymon, a Jew, escape the Nazis. The plan is to disguise Szymon as a priest, and as Michal’s brother. But when they come face to face with the enemy, courage and a simple plan may not be enough.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

Director’s Statement

Shortly after graduating from the Brooklyn College film program, I landed my first job as Training Coordinator at the Motion Picture Editors Guild in New York. Most weekends I assist and often conduct editor-training seminars with union members working on projects from ultra low budget productions to major studio motion pictures.

I’ve received awards for best student short for my college thesis from the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and the best short screenplay award from the Chicago International Screenwriting Festival for the same film. I currently serve as a feature film programmer at the Bushwick Film Festival.

We have currently raised $10,000 through crowdfunding, donations, and my own private resources. I have visited Poland eight times to make scouting trips and conduct rehearsals with my authentic Polish cast.

If a shoot in Poland doesn’t materialize as I’d hoped, I have a backup plan to use the countryside and vistas of the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary as a substitute for foreign locations.

Director’s Vision Statement

This is a story of courage, love, and sacrifice, expressed through the tale of two gay men in love in Nazi-occupied Poland, on the run for a better life. This narrative explores the desperate sacrifices that these characters—and others—make to preserve themselves and the people they care about.

What really inspired me in making this film is the series of events of survival and betrayal, love and affection, and the ultimate sacrifice that played out on a daily basis in the real history of the Holocaust. Although this film takes place in 1943, its marks can still be seen in the present. Through this narrative, I am speaking for those who lived their lives in constant fear of oppression and those who lost their lives during World War II and to those who survived the brutality of Hitler. Through this film, I am communicating and reaching out to the people of the world—and specifically to my fellow Muslims—so that they might feel the pain and learn about the Holocaust. By feeling each other’s pain, we make strong connections of love and harmony and make this world more beautiful.

My motivation to make this film came from my personal experience while I was visiting the Auschwitz camp for general research on the Holocaust. I felt the haunted air screaming for freedom, love, and justice. Every inch of that camp is painted in the blood that is not visible to the naked eye, but nevertheless you can feel it every step you take.

 

I believe that you live once, you die once and you love once. This film explores not only the horror of the Holocaust but also the journey of two men in love. These two men just wanted one thing from their life; freedom to love each other, celebrate their love, and to be accepted in the society. When you lose someone you love more than yourself, no matter how far away they feel or are, a part of them remains in your heart. Thus Love: A War Story is a perfect example of love and affection.

This film will address a theme as relevant for these times as the 1940s: the desperate sacrifices people will make to preserve themselves or the people they care about. Our main characters make choices they have to live with; so does the collaborator.

I believe that we each have a role to play to fight injustice, and that role implies a responsibility to take action, and I hope that the film will impart that moral. On a more subtle level, I understand that we all have many identities, and changing how we present ourselves to the world does not change who we really are inside. Michal and Szymon disguise themselves; the Nazi behaves like a nice man; the collaborator does what he has to survive.

Love: A War Story is a story of how our true identities conflict with what we try to present to get by in the world, set against the wider conflict of war-torn Europe.

KEY CREW

Muneeb Hassan - Director

Muneeb Hassan immigrated to New York from Pakistan at the age of 19, abandoning medical school in pursuit of his filmmaking dream. While still a kid in Pakistan, he watched dozens of Disney animations and dreamed of one day becoming a filmmaker himself. He is making that dream happen step by step, and is currently working to make his groundbreaking short, "Moj Brat (My Brother)" It was in the U.S. that Muneeb first learned extensively about the Holocaust., a topic that was not as often discussed in Pakistan. At once horrified and deeply stirred by the accounts of atrocities, he felt that - as a Muslim - he has the obligation to speak of the subject with depth and compassion. As he has gained experience in the Editors' Guild and studied filmmaking at Brooklyn College, he has matured as a filmmaker, making his first fictional thesis short called "We Just Met". We Just Met is currently playing festivals and has screened at the Williamsburg Film Festival, the Melbourne Film Festival and the Chicago Irish Film Festival; it received awards for Best Student Film and Best Editing at the Los Angeles Indepenent Film Festival and the Best Screenplay award at the Chicago International Screenwriting Festival. His prior short films have screened internationally-from India to Tel Aviv to the Ukraine-and on New York television. Other credits include associate producing the feature film The Nearest Human Being and producing a Danish documentary short Left in a Box.

Piotr Turlej - Producer

Piotr Turlej is a filmmaker, editor, and producer based in New York. He graduated from the University of Silessia (Poland) Film School in 2008 and has worked on film, TV, and commercials ever since. He served as assistant director, producer, and editor in Poland, Peru, and the US. Growing up in Krakow with his grandparents, former resistance fighters during WWII, he was surrounded by war stories and songs from that time. In his work, he has followed this fascination as an Assistant Director in "Days of Honor" ("Czas Honoru") - Polish WWII TV series, and in a Brazilian documentary about Jewish survivors from Auschwitz. He was always drawn to WWII movies like "The Pianist", "Schindler's List" and "Kanal", to name just a few.

Agnieszka Kruk Inez - Screenwriter

Graduate of screenwriting programmes at Warsaw Film School (2006) and Lódz Film School (2010). Holder of two MA degrees in 20th century literature: British (1998) and Dutch (2000) from Warsaw University. Received scholarships to study Dutch literature in Antwerp, Utrecht and Leiden.

She started working for media in 1996 writing scripts for television shows, creating new formats and producing television shows, both live and recorded. She has credits in 1200 episodes of prime time television series. She was commissioned to write several new formats, build writers’ teams and train new writers.

She has been educating writers since 2007. She supports writers working on television projects, feature and documentary films as well as novels. She organises courses, workshops, webinars and events for writers, including the festival for screenwriters called Script Fiesta, pitching sessions and various screenwriting competitions.

David Stokes - Screenwriter

David Stokes is a professional screenwriter and filmmaker from the UK.  His latest feature length screenplay, “NECESSARY EVIL” will be shot in the US in 2020, he’s the co-writer of the feature “THE HELLIONS” and the forthcoming World War 2 feature “THE DESIRE”.  He’s also the writer of the short films “FOREVER MANCHESTER”, “LOVE: A WAR STORY” and “PROCEED ON FOOT”.  He’s written episodes for the comedy web series “TEA, ONE SUGAR” and is presently in pre-production on his next short film “FANG” which he will write and direct.

 

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