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Viva La Resistance 

From Primo Levi to Jonathan Safran Foer, Schindler's List to The Pianist, it sometimes feels like we're bordering on Holocaust overload, having assessed the tragedy from every possible angle.

Maia Wechsler's Sisters in Resistance presents yet another take on concentration camp survivors. The hour-long documentary relies on the first-person narratives of four elderly French women who, while in their late teens and early 20s, challenged the German occupation of their homeland and who survived as prisoners thanks to their camaraderie.

Though they were neither Jewish nor Communist, the four joined the underground French Resistance and began covert operations to hide Nazi targets and funnel information to the British. After the Germans marched into town, the girls at first began minor acts of protest, such as ripping down Nazi flags.

Says one of the subjects, the real French Resistance was started by women, because men were too bound to their bank accounts and social standing. Similarly, women were more likely to be at home during the day and were often used as "mailboxes" by Resistance agents passing along messages and fliers.

Though this look at the tactics Resistance fighters used against their invaders illuminates a sometimes overlooked chapter of the war, the final third of the documentary falls into altogether familiar territory. All four women eventually were found out by the Gestapo and shipped to Ravensbruck concentration camp. They survived the traumatic experience largely by sticking together, but director Wechsler seems eager to hurry through the final act and doesn't offer much more than platitudes.

Sisters in Resistance lacks the emotional gravity you might expect from its often harrowing subject matter. Oddly enough, Wechsler errs too heavily on the side of letting the women tell their own stories when a heavier dose of outside narration might give this otherwise startling history more resonance.


IMAGE Film & Video Center screens Sisters in Resistance March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site Screening Room, 450 Auburn Ave. Free. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.

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