Civil disobedience! No more war! Resist! That's what The Living Theatre has always done-and is still doing with vigor today.
RESIST chronicles the history and mission behind The Living Theatre, one of the most significant companies in the history of American theatre and the avant garde. Established in 1947 by Julian Beck and Judith Malina as an alternative to commercial theater, the Living Theatre's politically-motivated plays expressed anarchist, pacifist ideals and mobilized the theater as a medium for social change.
For over 50 years, the controversial troupe impacted audiences and theater practice around the world with its visceral, free-form productions, including The Brig, Paradise Now, The Money Tower, Mysteries and Smaller Pieces, and Not in My Name.
Today their collective creations are performed in unconventional venues around the world-from public parks and factories to prisons and detainment camps, opposing economic tyranny and the militarism paralyzing so many countries. But is it still a valid, effective form of social commentary and protest? What weight do their ideas have if the world is so eager to live in violence? Are their utopian ideals a realistic response to the complex problems of contemporary societies? What is the meaning of this fight today?
Interweaving archival footage of past shows with contemporary interviews with Malina, Beck (up until his death in 1985), co-director Hanon Reznikov, and other company members of past and present, RESIST follows the troupe of radical illusionaries on three different journeys as they collaborate with young activists on productions beyond the traditional stage: Ground Zero in New York; the G8 Summit of Genoa in Paris; and the Khiam detention camp in South Lebanon.
RESIST is a poetic and political homage to the Living Theatre which, after nearly six decades is often taken for dead yet always revived; a rejected but tireless nomad, the Living has survived its own success and its opponents' persecution.
"A stirring testimony to the renegade spirit of Julian Beck, and to the few places where social action and American legit life still cross paths. A combination of archival and first-person view of where the happily anarchic company is at today, RESIST should attract anyone interested in experimental theater. German-based helmer Dirk Szuszies, a onetime member of the famously controversial outfit, is well-positioned to tell the story of a group that 'you don't audition for; you just show up.' Resistance might be futile, but RESIST, made with affection, is curiously upbeat." - Variety
2003 Europa Cinema Award, Best Documentary
2004 Tribeca International Film Festival
2004 Boston Jewish Film Festival
"Like most people, I assumed that Julian Beck's Living Theatre was as dead as bell-bottoms with kick pleats, but this inspirational doc from Dirk Szuszies proves me wrong." - The Georgia Straight
"Stimulating and uplifting! The story of this remarkable ensemble company and its charismatic leader Judith Malina ranges from the landmark performances of the 1950s and 60s to some of its most recent work in the U.S., Italy, France, and the Middle East. The scenes in southern Lebanon-where troupe members attempt to convert a Hezbollah theatre group to non-violence and pacifism-are worth the price of admission alone!" - The Age (Australia)
"Beyond transmitting the important message of peaceful resistance, RESIST is a valuable tool for discovering the work of The Living Theatre, which combines theatrical language with real experience." - EuropaCinema Jury, Award for Best Documentary