St. Louis premiere of ‘Four Winters’ unveils Jewish women’s armed resistance during Holocaust

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

For more than a decade, filmmaker Julia Mintz meticulously crafted her award-winning documentary “Four Winters” to challenge existing myths surrounding Jewish survival during World War II, offering a new and differing portrayal of courage.

Now, she is bringing her film to St. Louis for the first time.

‘Four Winters’

In honor of Women’s History Month, the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum is hosting an exclusive screening of “Four Winters” as well as a post-viewing conversation with Mintz on March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be ordered online.

Through gripping accounts and archival footage, “Four Winters” unveils the courageous acts of Jews who defied the odds, escaping to the forests of Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Belarus. There, they forged alliances and formed partisan brigades to fight back against the Nazis and their collaborators.

The inspiration

Speaking on her inspiration for making the film, Mintz reflected on her upbringing and the pervasive narratives surrounding Jewish survival during the war.

“We were taught, ‘lambs to the slaughter,’ and the inherited story of American liberators,” she explained, highlighting what she describes as a passive portrayal of Jewish survival prevalent in public school education and Hollywood depictions. “I felt like someone needed to be an advocate to say, you know, that wasn’t always the case.”

Telling a different narrative, one exploring the depths of human courage is what “Four Winters” became.

Stories of courage

Through interviews with eight partisans — five women and three men — the film chronicles their journey from innocence to resilience as they navigate the harsh realities of war and defy unimaginable odds to survive.

“The film follows two narratives,” explained Mintz. “One is the linear timeline, but this film is really about the soul, the soul’s journey and the personal journey of each partisan.”

Mintz delves into the intricacies of everyday life for each of the partisans and how they grapple with the fierce anxiety of knowing each day could be their last.

“The film does not shy away from that,” she said, emphasizing the film’s unflinching portrayal of the ethical dilemmas faced by its subjects. “We go right in there and explore how these decent people, who were raised not to steal, not to kill and not to lie, had to break their own beliefs to survive. We end up seeing extraordinary bravery, self-control, resiliency and loyalty. And so, the film in many ways sort of flips ‘the lambs to the slaughter’ narrative, to another interpretation, which is much more accurate.”

What to know before you watch

This film is told in an oral history style, through the voices of the eight former partisans sharing their accounts of wartime survival, accompanied by some remarkable archival images of the partisans in action.

In viewing “Four Winters” the filmgoer should know the film is not merely a passive viewing experience but rather a journey that demands full immersion. This film was crafted for the big screen and meant to be viewed as a communal experience.

“So, on March 12, bring three friends or family members. Bring somebody younger and bring somebody older because it’s really an intergenerational and community experience to see this film,” said Mintz. “Afterwards you’ll be amazed at how different generations of viewers interpret what they saw.”

Mintz also says the film is created on different levels. There’s the historical, the personal and the musical.

“The weaving of sound and music is quite wonderful. It’s inspired by historical rhythm, but it’s meaningful and the music sort of follows the narration as it weaves throughout the film, but it’s very, very subtle,” said Mintz.

All told, we suggest you focus on the storytelling as it reveals Mintz’s vision, that Holocaust stories, rightly or wrongly, routinely portray Jews as defenseless victims — not as armed partisans capable of blowing up a train or stabbing Nazis to death with makeshift knives.

‘Four Winters’: Jewish Women’s Armed Resistance During the Holocaust”

What: Exclusive showing of “Four Winters” followed by a conversation with Julia Mintz
When: March 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. (90-minute film)
More info: For more information or to purchase tickets, visit