Forever Activists: Stories from the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (1990)

60 mins | Documentary | 22 October 1990

Full page view
HISTORY

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film are based on reviews in the 8 Mar 1991 LAT, 20 Mar 1991 HR, 10 Jun 1991 Var, 14 Jun 1991 NYT, and 25 Jun 1991 Village Voice.
       According to documents in AMPAS library files, Forever Activists: Stories From the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade screened in Los Angeles, CA, for a week in late Oct 1990 to qualify for Academy Award consideration. It was nominated for “Best Achievement in Documentary Feature,” according to the 10 Jun 1991 Var and 14 Jun 1991 ... More Less

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film are based on reviews in the 8 Mar 1991 LAT, 20 Mar 1991 HR, 10 Jun 1991 Var, 14 Jun 1991 NYT, and 25 Jun 1991 Village Voice.
       According to documents in AMPAS library files, Forever Activists: Stories From the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade screened in Los Angeles, CA, for a week in late Oct 1990 to qualify for Academy Award consideration. It was nominated for “Best Achievement in Documentary Feature,” according to the 10 Jun 1991 Var and 14 Jun 1991 LAT More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 1991
p. 10, 16.
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1991
Section F, p. 12.
New York Times
14 Jun 1991
p. 10.
The Nation
8 Jul 1991.
---
Variety
10 Jun 1991
p.
Village Voice
25 Jun 1991.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Narration wrt
Narration wrt
Narration wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
SOUND
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 October 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 October 1990
New York opening: 14 June 1991
Production Date:
completed 1990
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
60
Length(in feet):
2,200
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In October 1986, American veterans of the George Washington-Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which fought on the side of the Spanish Republicans in the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, greet old comrades at a fiftieth anniversary reunion in Madrid, Spain. Along with Spanish and other international veterans of the war, they revisit battlefields and bask in the gratitude of thankful Spaniards. The survivors, now in their seventies and eighties, consider the war an important chapter in their lives of social commitment. Leftist idealists who grew up during the Great Depression, they were alarmed by the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. When Spain’s top military officers, led by General Francisco Franco, launched a coup against the democratically elected Second Spanish Republic in 1936, Nazi Germany supported their Nationalist Army with its Luftwaffe, one of the world’s most advanced air forces. The Soviet Union, Mexico, and France offered support to the government “Loyalists,” but the United States and European countries maintained a policy of non-intervention. Anxious to fight against the fascist Nationalists, roughly 3,000 American volunteers joined what was commonly called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Few had military backgrounds. Many were African Americans or children of Jewish immigrants who had been involved in American Communist-sponsored struggles for labor rights. On the Spanish battlefields, blacks fought alongside, and sometimes led, whites. However, after brigade members returned home following the Nationalist victory, the United States government revoked their passports and considered them subversives because of the brigade’s U.S.S.R. support. At the beginning of World War II, they could not become commissioned officers or serve in intelligence units, and during the “anti-Red” hysteria of the postwar years, many were victims of the U.S. House Un-American ... +


In October 1986, American veterans of the George Washington-Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which fought on the side of the Spanish Republicans in the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, greet old comrades at a fiftieth anniversary reunion in Madrid, Spain. Along with Spanish and other international veterans of the war, they revisit battlefields and bask in the gratitude of thankful Spaniards. The survivors, now in their seventies and eighties, consider the war an important chapter in their lives of social commitment. Leftist idealists who grew up during the Great Depression, they were alarmed by the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. When Spain’s top military officers, led by General Francisco Franco, launched a coup against the democratically elected Second Spanish Republic in 1936, Nazi Germany supported their Nationalist Army with its Luftwaffe, one of the world’s most advanced air forces. The Soviet Union, Mexico, and France offered support to the government “Loyalists,” but the United States and European countries maintained a policy of non-intervention. Anxious to fight against the fascist Nationalists, roughly 3,000 American volunteers joined what was commonly called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Few had military backgrounds. Many were African Americans or children of Jewish immigrants who had been involved in American Communist-sponsored struggles for labor rights. On the Spanish battlefields, blacks fought alongside, and sometimes led, whites. However, after brigade members returned home following the Nationalist victory, the United States government revoked their passports and considered them subversives because of the brigade’s U.S.S.R. support. At the beginning of World War II, they could not become commissioned officers or serve in intelligence units, and during the “anti-Red” hysteria of the postwar years, many were victims of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch hunts.” Many lost jobs and some went to jail. Following Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Joseph Stalin in 1956, many became disillusioned with the Communist Party. Regardless, they continued working within America’s trade union, civil rights, and anti-war movements. A Cold War propaganda film that shows how to spot a Communist highlights the era’s attitude toward and suppression of American leftists. However, during the 1986 reunion, Abraham Lincoln Brigade veterans remain proud that they fought the first war against fascism and consider it one of their many worthy social struggles. Ninety-year-old Dolores “Las Pasionaria” Ibarruri, a Communist revolutionary who became the Loyalist movement’s leading voice during the war, speaks intimately about the brigade. During a peace march in San Francisco, California, in 1989, two spry brigade veterans muse that Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers were “premature anti-fascists,” then “mature anti-fascists,” and finally “senior anti-fascists.”
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.