Best Documentary, Newport International Film Festival
Best Documentary, Galway International Film Festival
Special Jury Citation, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award, Hamptons International Film Festival

View the 30 second trailer in Quicktime (3.1 MB file)
View the 60 second trailer in Quicktime (4 MB file)

We first meet Jan Wiener in Lenox, Massachusetts, where the 77-year old is pummeling a boxing bag in his garage. "Boxing taught me to take a blow and get up" he growls, between punches. "Its very similar to life- you have to keep to rules that are strict. You learn to overcome your fears- and you lose your sensitivity to yourself."

On a spring day Jan meets his friend Arnost Lustig in Washington D.C., to plan the upcoming trip over a large map of Europe. It is our first opportunity to observe the pair in action. Their banter is peppered with affectionate teasing- and, being Czech men, they betray a childlike fascination with sex. Wiener is the straight man, Lustig the cad. Wiener tries to talk about history, Lustig wants tales of romantic adventure. It is a rapport which foreshadows some of the troubles to come, when, for instance, Lustig gives Wiener a hearty backslap and exclaims "I cannot wait to go with this man!" and Weiner deadpans, "I can wait."


Amir Bar-Lev - Director

Amir Bar-Lev graduated from Brown University in 1994, and studied at FAMU, the Prague Film Academy, under Czech directors Jiri Menzel and Jan Nemec. He has written and directed programs for PBS, ESPN, and the Outdoor Life Channel. As a free-lance editor he has cut pieces for PBS and HBO. Credits include work for HBOâs Real Sex, Preventing Violence With Groark, and Place/Setting. Fighter is Mr. Bar-Levâs feature-length debut. He is currently screenwriting in Los Angeles, CA.

Jonathan Crosby - Co-Producer

As co-producer / director, Mr. Crosbyâs most recent documentary, Looking For Sly has garnered numerous awards (including Best Documentary Short at both the LA International Short Film Festival, and South by South West). As an editor, Mr. Crosby has worked on award-winning children's programming for PBS. He acted as co-producer for 93 Million Miles from the Sun (honored by the Berlin Film Festival), and Directed Photography on Brothers, an award-winning documentary.

Alex Mamlet - Co-Producer

Alex Mamlet studied film at Pitzer college and at the Prague film Academy. He co-wrote and directed Place/Setting, developed and shot in Prague, which received first place in the Berkeley Film and Video Festival. He has worked on numerous projects for PBS and the BBC.

Gary Griffin - Cinematographer

Gary Griffin won an Academy Award for the 1992 HBO documentary Educating Peter. His over 30 credits as Cinematographer include work for A&E, PBS, ABC, HBO, CBS, NBC, CNN, and CBC.

Jan Nemec - Consultant

Jan Nemec is the Czech Republicâs preeminent director. His credits include Diamonds of the Night (1964), The Party and The Guest (1966), The Martyrs of Love (1967), and In The Light of the King's Love (1991). Mr. Nemec has directed several of Arnost Lustigâs screenplays, and served as our production liaison in Prague.

View a full credits list here.

    • >>Please visit the official website for full screening listing.

    • >> 10.26.01 --Laemmle Theatres and First Run Features are pleased to present FIGHTER, a documentary in which filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev accompanies two Czech Holocaust survivors, Jan Weiner and Arnost Lustig, as they revisit the places in Europe they barely escaped alive during the Second World War. The Los Angeles engagement of FIGHTER will begin at Laemmle's Music Hall Theatre on Friday, October 26, 2001.

    • >> 07.10.01 -- Fighter set for theatrical release.

  • >> Link to the Next Wave Films Press Log for more press listings.

  • >> 03.14.01 -- First Run books 'Fighter'
    First Run Features has acquired from Next Wave Films U.S. distribution rights to "Fighter," a documentary from first-time feature helmer Amir Bar-Lev.

    First Run is planning a fall release for the film, which centers on two Jewish World War II survivors on a trip through Europe and their pasts. The story follows 77-year-old Jan Wiener and 72-year-old professor and author Arnost Lustig as they reminisce about romance, humor and life-or-death situations while retracing their steps from Prague to Slovenia and ultimately Cosenza, Italy, where they escaped Nazism.

  • >>07.10.01-- Fighter will play at the SF Jewish Film Festival in July, 2001.

  • >>Fighter wins Special Jury Citation at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Galway Film Festival
    7.22.00 -- Fighter, directed by Amir Bar-Lev
    Indiewire Festivals: 35th Karlovy Vary Bigger, Better, and No Business
    "'Fighter' was an early audience favorite to win as it did already in Newport."

  • >>Excerpt from the Newport International Film Festival.
    6.13.00 --Fighter wins Best Documentary Film

    Fighter, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, was named Best Documentary. Concerned with the intertwined stories of two Czech emigres who fled their homeland during World War II, Fighter follows Arnost Lustig and Jan Wiener as they travel through Europe to revisit stops on their epic six-year journey to freedom. As the trip progresses, however, it becomes apparent that one man has more at stake in his friend's revelations than was first apparent. The Best Documentary Film Award was presented by Rick Bready of Nortek.

    > BEST DOCUMENTARY: Fighter (To) - Director Amir Bar-Lev hit a home run when
    he decided to give his life and his crew's time to two men who are as
    interesting together as any two fictional characters ever have been. And
    first-timer Bar-Lev showed that he's no fluke, also contributing a
    so-good-it-had-to-be-the-closer short to the festival's 25 X 25 project.
    (See below and THB 9/17)

    And finally, the most fun of the films, from a documentary director who
    rocked the fest with his film, Fighter. The director is Amir Bar-Lev and
    the film was Kid Protocol, which is all about sneaking into festival venues
    where you just don't belong. Hysterically funny and instructive too. I used
    his tips to sneak into a party later on, the night I saw the film. But
    besides being funny, Kid Protocol hit on exactly what the spirit of the
    festival is supposed to be. It's a big party for people who love film. Not
    for sales. Not for the media. Not for the ultra-rich. It's for the love of
    the art. And all 25 of these filmmaker were kind enough to offer up that
    love. A great project. They should do it very year.


    Directed by Amir Bar-Lev. 88 min. Real to Reel. ***

    "To live through World War II and be normal, it's not possible," maintains
    72-year-old Czech author Arnost Lustig, one of the two subjects of Amir
    Bar-Lev's stringently objective documentary, Fighter. Lustig should know:
    he spent most of his teenage years in Terezin concentration camp, laying
    tracks for trains that would ferry fellow Jews to their deaths at
    Auschwitz. His co-subject, Jan Wiener, 77, had already escaped to the West,
    where he became a fighter pilot. After armistice, both returned to
    Czechloslovakia, where the Communist Party Lustig helped form would
    eventually condemn Wiener to a labour camp. Now Bar-Lev follows them both
    on a journey designed to retrace their steps, but simultaneously begins
    prising open the cracks in their already shaky, sarcasm-driven friendship.
    Fighter is a fascinating, almost novelistic look at two very different
    people linked by a shared history of irreconcilable pain. -- GF

    Berkeley, California Tuesday, September 30, 1999 : Zebra Productions proudly announces the completion of its feature documentary film "Fighter."

    "I tell you: there was never a trip like this before- the motives are terribly sad, but we are going to have a lot of fun. This is another dimension of history."

    With these words two unconventional 70-year olds, Arnost Lustig and Jan Wiener, set out to revisit the Europe of their childhoods. But the two friends are only partially right: the trip will take take them on an original and unorthodox exploration of the Holocaust, revealing moments of joie de vivre, fighting spirit, romance and humor. It is, however, not nearly as pleasant a journey as they had expected.

    Beginning as an historical biography, Fighter becomes a psychological drama as the trip becomes a contentious clash of ideologies, personalities, and life paths. By the time the two pack their bags and draw a premature end to their roadtrip, our filming, and their relationship, what has emerged is a portrait of the century's most dramatic events- recounted not through dry historical facts, but through an unlikely friendship brought to the brink of collapse.

    By combining spontaneous action with reflective conversations and historical films, Fighter weaves a complex portrait linking the two compelling subjects with the breathtaking stories of their youths. Here are the untold stories of the era: playing soccer while waiting to be gassed in Auschwitz, losing one's virginity the night before a transport to the camps, running towards the front rather than away from it in the fervent desire to fight Hitler. In making Fighter, the filmmakers gained access to a trove of rare archival footage, never before seen by Western audiences, from eerily familiar footage of the 1942 bombing of Yugoslavia, with columns of refugees fleeing the violence, to kitsch Socialist musicals staged in technicolor power plants.

    In Color, 86 minutes, 35mm print. Director/Editor: Amir Bar-Lev

    Contact Zebra Productions

    E-mail the Producers, Jonathan Crosby, Alex Mamlet, Amir Bar-Lev:

    E-mail the Director,
    Amir Bar-Lev:

Please visit First Run Features non-theatrical page for Fighter.
This is where institutions can purchase cassettes, etc.

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