Filmmakers Jonas Ohman, Vincas Sruoginis and Mark Johnston presented their long-awaited documentary on the Lithuanian Partisan Resistance’s armed struggle against the Soviet Union from 1944 to 1953, The Invisible Front, in late July at the Crosby Hotel in New York.
The film, told through the words and experiences of resistance fighters, will introduce the world to movement hero Juozas Lukša. An architecture student who joined the resistance along with his three brothers, he became one of the rebellion’s most charismatic leaders and eventually fled the Soviet Union to tell Lithuania’s story to the outside world.
“The Invisible Front tells the almost-forgotten story of a courageous band of fighters who stood up to the Soviet juggernaut against all odds,” noted Sruoginis. “To tell the story with the proper respect and accuracy, we had to combine decades of footage into one coherent story, and Nice Shoes turned out to be the perfect partner for this challenging task.”
The Invisible Front is a passion project for the filmmakers, who traveled annually to Lithuania for years to make the documentary. Bringing in Nice Shoes early in the creative process, the filmmakers lavished attention on every segment of production and post, enlisting Nice Shoes’ expertise in design, visual effects and color grading.
The studio designed the film’s gripping opening title sequence – a combination of archival footage and a slow-moving tabletop shot of black-and-white photos, journals, ledgers and official documents – and brought a consistent look to the overall film, which was derived from various source media, many of them decades old. One incredible scene involves the blending of reenactment footage shot on a Sony XDcam with footage shot on 16mm film. Work on the film was made considerably less daunting by the close collaboration between Nice Shoes’ various departments. “VFX would be working on finishing the film, while Design created the title treatments, and the color team then imported the elements into the final piece seamlessly for grading,” explained colorist Lenny Mastrandrea.
“Juozas Lukša and his brethren define courage, and our work had to reflect that,” said Nice Shoes producer Pat Portela. “This was a really personal project for Vincas, so we were honored to play a part in it.”