Financed on a budget of just $500,000 (by San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos) and produced by a skeleton crew of four young filmmakers, a new World War II documentary called The 11th Day
is earning attention and provoking amazement as it quietly makes its way around the country without benefit of a theatrical distributor. An all-out tribute to thousands of Greek resistance fighters who held off their Nazi occupiers for four years on the island of Crete, the film combines battle re-enactments, interviews with survivors (some of whom were just children when the Germans landed) and archival footage. In sum, it's a stirring recollection of a largely forgotten episode in war history -- and a timely reminder of the sacrificial ferocity a committed insurgency is capable of in the face of military occupation.
In the first two days of the invasion, filmmakers Christos and Michael Epperson point out, Cretan civilians handed the Germans their first major defeat of the war, killing or wounding half of Hitler's 8,000 airborne assault troops. By 1944, the German force on Crete numbered 100,000 men, who inflicted unspeakable terror on the local population. But the Cretans never relented. As a matter of fact, in league with a British special-ops unit, they even managed to kidnap the Germans' commanding general.
The 11th Day will show in Denver on Saturday, March 4, at the Theotokos Metropolis Cathedral, 4610 East Alameda Avenue. Screenings are at 2 and 7 p.m.; call 303-671-8835 for ticket information.