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THE STORY OF AMERICAN AIRMEN

WHO WERE SHOT DOWN OVER SLOVAKIA

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The film is a testimony of a period, a testimony of courage and bravery of simple people.

During WW2 crashed on the Slovak territory 46 American bombers and 8 fighter aircrafts.  88 airmen were killed and about 380 were captured and taken to prison camps.

Other airmen managed to escape from the burning airplanes and sought refuge by local people.

The fate of Americans in Slovakia is a riveting story about a fight for survival in the middle of an unknown country, a fight with hopelessness and despair to the limit of human strength.  A story about not giving up your fate, but to face it with dignity and without loss of self-respect. But also the courage to look death in the eye and sacrifice your life in the name of freedom.

News

TEASER

Presskit

Synopsis

During World War II, 46 American bombers and 8 fighter planes crashed on Slovak territory. 106 pilots died and approximately 370 were captured and taken to prisoner of war camps.   However, many succeeded in escaping.

The Germans threatened to shoot anyone who helped them.  In spite of this, people threw caution to the wind and hid them.  They considered it their duty as human beings.

The Americans trusted Slovaks like they had never trusted anyone in their lives. Strong emotional relationships and lasting bonds were created.  Lifelong friendships were forged that even the totalitarian communist regime could not destroy.

After many years, these Americans returned to Slovakia to thank their protectors.  In a certain sense, they were born again in Slovakia.

Director’s explication

The Final Mission reveals unknown stories of courage and heroism of ordinary people that evoke respect and honor. People who lived a very modest life under very difficult circumstances, didn’t complain to anyone, but humbly accepted their life. For everything what happened to them they were grateful to God.

They took care of the American airmen as if they were their own children. They did it with altruism, with love, risking their lives doing so. They didn’t do it to gain any advantages, but considered it to be their humane duty, a matter of honor.

Mutual desire for freedom and resistance to fascist terror, which unleashed war madness and committed unforgivable sins on people, brought them together.

They were determined to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom. Unlike most, who got used to sit on two chairs, change coats and benefit from what has been for them at that moment best, they were unable to adapt to a servile obedience commands. Up to today we can feel the consequences of such an attitude: something happened to the ethos of this nation. It is afraid of the truth and rather shuffles in the mud of false certainties and moral marasmus.

We live in a hectic period, which doesn’t allow us to deal with the past the way it deserves; and we are missing elite, who would be able to start this painful process.

Direct participants of WW2 are passing away and with them also a strong generation of people, who often sacrificed their entire life fighting for freedom and democracy. They are leaving us a clear message and a warning to prevent degradation of the importance to stand up against wrongdoing, when young people have been subject to increasing neo-fascist tendencies, relativise the meaning of sacrifice and ridicule the war veterans.

As creators it is our duty revealing neuralgic themes of our history and to provoke a reassessment of stereotypes of thinking, while we still have living witnesses.

I believe that with this film we will repay at least a small portion of what we owe to generations of our ancestors, and that we wont let them to fall into oblivion.

Dušan Hudec

Producer’s explication

The subject of American airmen in Slovakia was something unkown for me. Perhaps because it was a taboo for 40 years. Americans were imperialists, our class enemies and out of the question to mention that during WW2 they fought on the side of the anti-fascist coalition. Our people who helped the airmen were by the regime persecuted and imprisoned.

The film production began in 2012. Filming started thanks to the financial assistance of the US Embassy in Slovakia, Indiana National Guard in the USA, the Community Foundation Bratislava and Museum SNP in Banska Bystrica. We were filming in several states in the USA with the last living American airmen of the 15th American Air Army, who survived thanks to the help of many Slovaks. They provided us with photos and documents, the rest we have found at home archives and museums. Many of them devoted young amateur historians. We managed to find the film archives in National Archives and Record Administration in Maryland and the Slovak Film Institute in Bratislava.

In Slovakia we tried to shoot at authentic locations in different seasons to correspond with the time when the bombers were shot down. We managed to find living witnesses of the bomber crashes and children of families hiding the airmen. They knew that they could get shot by the Germans and did it in spite of it.

The making of the film was possible thanks to the Slovak Audio Visual Fund, that suported the project at the development stage and implementation, thanks to coproduction partners RTVS and SNP Museum in Banska Bystrica, Zukunftsfonds Osterreich and other sponsors.

Witnesses of perilous war events are leaving this world quickly and therefore it is very important to record their precious, authentic testimony, and by doing so to fill in the blanks in our history. Many young enthusiasts continue the mapping of these loopholes. Looking for remnants of aircrafts, pieces of verbal information that have been preserved, documents, to put together the pieces of a puzzle with stories of bombers crews.

Slovakia doesn’t have many heroes, although there is an effort to build a myth of Janosik and Svatopluk. However, it has many humble, brave people, who found the courage and in a very difficult situation stood up against wrongdoing. They didn’t lose their human face, their moral principles. I think that this message needs to be cultivated in our society and at the same time a signal needs to be sent abroad that the principles our previous generations lived by have not yet dissapeared.

Darina Smržová

Credits

EDIT Studio

presents

a documentary film

The Final Mission

End Roll

46 bombers of the 15th U.S. Air Force were shot down over Slovakia while bombing strategic targets in Central Europe.

88 airmen lost their lives, 380 were taken prisoner and 53 airmen were saved thanks to the selfless help of many Slovaks.

producers of this film wish to express their gratitude to all those who shared their life stories

Slovak Republic

Ervín Ažaltovič

Ján Babinčák

Betka Bachárová

Kristína Gašparová

Mária Lakotová

Zuzana Marečková

Jozef Pavlovič

Roman Poláček

František Somorovský

Ferdinand Štellár

Štefan Trulík

Anna Zichová

the United States of America

Lawrence G. Baumgarten

Silas M. Crase

Manley J. Fliger

Eugen R. Hodge

John M. Howison

Leonard Chekirda

Richard W. Moulton

Howard L. Luzier

passed away before the film was completed

Silas M. Crase

Eugene R. Hodge

Script Editors    Alena Viteková

Miroslava Tomaníková

Narrated by   Christian Walldorf

Transcription   Renáta Jalšovská

Translation    Paul McCullough

Subtitles    Christian Walldorf

Music Selection   Arcadia Music Library

                                Marta Hejtmánková

                                 Ľudmila Hodulíková

 Historical Advisers   Peter Kaššák

 PhDr. Peter Šumichrast, PhD.

 Map Animation  Patrik Pašš ml.

Graphic    plaftik

Colour Grading   Peter Csordás

Camera Technician  Peter Zubaľ

Jozef Zemko

Sound Designers   Koloman Bekő

Ľubomír Cvanciger

Viliam Halák

Sound Recordists  Peter Toman

Miloš Gluvňa

Re-Recording Mixer  Dušan Kozák

Assistant Editor  Alexandra Jonášová

Film Editor   Darina Smržová

Executive Producers for EDIT Studio  Miroslava Trizmová

Kristína Majorošová

Assistant Producer   Miroslava Dírerová

Executive Producer  for RTVS   Anna Matisová

Producer for EDIT Studio   Darina Smržová

Production Manager for RTVS   Tibor Horváth

Cinematography    Rado Bliznakov

Written and Directed by   Dušan Hudec

Archival Footage and Stills Photography Courtesy of

The National Film Archive of Slovak Film Institute

The Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banska Bystrica

The Town of Brezova pod Bradlom

The Museum of Region Podpolanie in Detva

Radio and Television Slovakia

Zahorie Museum Skalica

Peter Brezina

Miroslav Danek

Ján Lassovszký

Kathie Lund

Bildarchiv und Grafiksammlung / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Fotoarchiv der KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen

National Archives and Record Administration

and private photos of those who have appeared in the film

our grateful thanks to all those who generously gave their advice, support and help

throughout filming in The USA, Slovakia and Austria

Ján Babinčák, Chase Beamer, Ján Berky, Anna Černeková, František Červeňanský

Ján Čičko, Jerri Donuhue, František Ďurčenka, Peter Ďureje, Carol Fedorchak

Anna Gavlasová, Karolína Gondeková, Marek Greguš, Anna Alžbeta Gulovichová

Elisabeth Hartjens, Marian Hrodegh, Anna Chmelová, Braňo Chňapko, Peter Hlaváč

Emília Jankechová, Ondrej Janšto, Štefan Jorík, Leo S. Kituskie, Vlastimil Kravárik

Ján Krišťák, Roman Krutý, Ján Mačina, Anna Milánová, Regina Némethová

Barbora Paláriková, Jan Papánek, Geraldine Provencher, Štefan Roľko

František Sekereš, Mark Schianca, Norton D. Skinner, Evan Stefanik,

Boris Súdny, Ján Šimek, Ferdinand Štellár, Štefan Švec, Soňa Šúryová

Peter Ušiak, Simona Vallovičová, Anna Varsíková, Mária Vráblicová

Roman Vrána, Jeff Wenberg, Rosemary Macko Wisnosky

Alojz Zábrodský,  John T. Zebrowski, Steve Zlatos, Milan Zubáň

KZGedenkstätte Mauthausen

Colorlab Intermediate Vendor

Henninger /Capitol Video

special thanks for financial support

Loreta Ekoniak

John Palka

Juraj L. J. Slavik

Sue Summer

Anonymous Donor

American Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley

Czech and Slovak Solidarity Council

First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association

Friends of Slovakia

Indiana National Guard

Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich

Bratislava Community Foundation

Air Traffic Services of the Slovak republic

The Foundation of Emily and Michal Kovac

City/Town/ Lieskova

City/Town Lubina

Virtual Reality Media, a.s.

 

The Embassy of the United States of America participated in the preparation of this documentary. However, the conclusions and information resulting from the film are nothing but the views of the author and the US-Government is not liable for their content

Production of the film was financially supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund.

This film was produced by Edit Studio

in co-production with Radio and Television Slovakia

and The Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banska Bystrica

©  Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska

EDIT Studio, s.r.o.

and

Múzeum slovenského národného povstania v Banskej Bystrici

2014

All Rights Reserved

Technical details

Title: The Final Mission

Original language: slovak, english

Subtitles: english

Running time: 58min 30sec

Film format: 1920×1080 25i, 16×9, colour + bw

Medium: HDcam, Blu-ray, DVD

Sound: stereo

Genre: documentary

Year of premiere: 2014

Year of production: 2014

Distribution premiere: 23.8. 2014

Copyright: EDIT Studio, RTVS a Múzeum Slovenského národného povstania v Banskej Bystrici

Oficial website: www.finalmission.eu

Facebook: Final Mission/ Neznami hrdinovia

Creators

dusan po boji

Dušan Hudec

screenwriter and director

Dušan Hudec (*1953 Trenčín) a FAMU (Academy of Performing Arts) Graduate, Film and Television Directing department, Prague 1990

Since 1989 cooperates, with forced breaks, with the Slovak Television. He is for many years devoted to historical themes. His two-part film Messengers of Hope I. II is the confession of former prisoners of the concentration camp Auschwitz – Birkenau deported from the Slovak state in 1942 and 1944. “Witness“, a story of a Jewish boy serving as a “son of regiment” in the elite group of murderers PO HG who murdered his parents in a mass grave in Kremnička. “Love thy neighbor …” is a feature documentary about anti-Jewish pogrom in Topoľčany in September 1945.

Auschwitz: The Nazis & the „Final Solution“, BBC, 2003-2004

World War II: Behind Closed Doors, BBC, 2006

Prague Spring 1968, Cosmos Factory, Viedeň, 2008

darina

Darina Smržová

producer, editor

Darina Smržová (*1959, Bratislava) Graduate of editing department, FAMU (Academy of Performing Arts), Prague, 1985. In her profession as editor she is devoted mainly to documentaries. For over 30 years edited more than 100 films.

“Love thy neighbor”, “World War II veterans,” “Leaving” directed by Dušan Hudec, “Judge me and Keep trying” (directed by Iva Kúšiková), “Last Folio” (directed by Katya Kraus). Social documents of director Ladislav Kabos “People on the Border”, “Lost Home”, “He Changed the Face of Shanghai”, “All My Children”. She does not avoid controversial films “I will not change” and “Zone A – escape from reality”, (directed by Peter Farmer), which were prohibited in STV in 1989. “Natives” (directed by Mario Homolka), a documentary from the period of the former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and creation of Slovak statehood. In 2011 she founded the EDIT Studio and focuses on the development and production of feature-length documentaries. She works as an internal teacher and a is a Head of Studio Editing at the FTF VSMU (Film and Television Faculty of Academy of Performing Arts).

Rado 3

Rado Bliznakov

camera

Rado Bliznakov (*1976, Kežmarok) Graduate of Bachelor’s studies at the Academy of Performing Arts, Department of Cinematography and Photography. As a cameraman he is involved in many serials: Surgery in Rose Garden, Apartment Building, Among us; as a main cameraman in serials: Friends and Dummies from trafic light. In terms of documentary filmmaking he has been working on a long term basis with director Dusan Hudec on the following movies: “Love thy neighbour”, “Ruined hopes”, – a documentary about the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops, “Slovak National Uprising 1944”, – about testimony of Slovak and French partizans, directly involved in battles. “The whole world is a narrow bridge”, about the destiny of a City of Kosice Rabi Jossi Steiner, “Leaving” – a story about Slovak rebels in German prison and concentration camps.

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Dušan Kozák

sound design and mix

Dušan Kozák (*1963, Šaľa) graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts, where he studied sound and also teaches it at the Academy’s sound department. He works for over two decades as a sound engineer in the Slovak Radio. Collaborated on several documentary films: The Journey of Magdalena Robinson (directed by Marek Sulik, 2008), Afghan Women Behind the Wheel (directed by Sahraa Karimi, 2009), Cigarettes and Songs (directed by Marek Sulik, 2010), Protected teritory (directed by Adam Hanuljak , 2010), Bells of Luck (directed by Marek Sulik and John Buck, 2012), From Fico to Fico (directed by Zuzana Piussi, 2012), on the feature film Thanks, Fine (director: Mátyás Prikler, 2013), and a film project Slovakia 2.0.

Poster

trailer

Partners

Coproducents

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Muzeum_SNP

Production of the film was financially supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund.

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Financial support

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Willing

Contact

Contact form from finalmission.eu

© Producent:Darina Smržová, +421905462038, EDIT Studio, s.r.o. Donnerova 17, 841 04 Bratislava, Slovensko.