"THE WAR OF LIONS" project is to produce a Feature-film/Pilot with four sequel episodes for TV mini-series edited in 90-min. and 135-min/180-min/225-min. and 270 min. It's a historical novel based on a true story about family and friends during WWII in Poland and Italy.
The above photographs show victorious troops of the brave Polish 2nd Corps in Italy soon after the end of WWII. In 1930s Poland, some of these valiant warriors had been dear friends of our Polish-Italian family, the Perantoni family.
In 1944 they had come to liberate Italy - and in 1945 they defeated Nazi-Fascism. These happy photos were taken in Italy during local celebrations of victory, prior to their sad discovery that Poland had been betrayed and given back to her original arch-enemy!
With great sacrifices, these men had triumphed in liberating Italy and had defended Poland by making a huge impact at crushing Nazi-Fascism on Germany's western front. They had rightly earned their victorious homecoming and repatriation to Poland.
But with dismal irony they will soon learn that the world's leaders had betrayed them leaving neither a homeland nor a home for them to return. Then with greater injury, they will learn that their families in Poland had also been betrayed.
CREDITS FOR THE ABOVE PHOTOS:
- Perantoni family collections (Orlando, Florida)
- The family of Robert Mrowiek (Warsaw, Poland)
Our nine true story protagonists will require
SIX MALE and THREE FEMALE ACTORS.
In post-war 1945, when the photos were taken, the Perantoni family was in northern Italy anxiously waiting to go back to their home and wine business in LWÓW, Poland. Their Polish liberators were anxiously waiting to go back home also. Some of them were from LWÓW. In the meantime, they celebrated "La Liberazione" together.
NOTE: The Polish city's name "LWÓW" means "LIONS" - Its earlier name "LEOPOLIS" meant "CITY OF LIONS." The majority of Polish troops in Italy had been from the region of LWÓW and Eastern Poland. During the 1930's most of our Polish friends in the above photos had been loyal patrons of our "Winiarnia Italia" wine and pasta tavern in LWÓW - The city of LIONS. Some of the others in the photos had been to our tavern also.
The photos show our Polish friends enjoying blissful times of R&R after an extremely arduous, but victorious, military campaign in Italy. It was a time for reflecting on all the sacrifices that their grueling military triumphs had cost Poland.
It was a time to cherish that victory would not have been possible without the fearsome combat actions of their countless warrior brothers that had been sacrificed in order to achieve Poland's long-awaited reprisal against Nazi Germany's evil.
It was a time of recovery mixed with local parades and award ceremonies held in various Italian towns. Also occasional celebrations with other units of the Polish 2nd Corps. Those were joyous times that our Polish friends and their entire 2nd Corps hadn't seen since 1939. The Perantoni family also hadn't seen such cheer since their evacuationfrom Lwów at the onset of the Nazi-Soviet invasion.
BUT, A TRAGIC CHANGE TO THE MOOD WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
SOMETHING VERY DEVIOUS would soon be realized. WHY? Because in 1945 Joseph Stalin was settling a quarter century of hatred and vendetta that he had schemed against Poland since his defeat in 1920 by Polish forces at Lwόw.
Although in 1940 Stalin had satisfied some of his lust for Polish blood in the Katyn forest, he had been defeated once again when his former Nazi collaborator of 1939 turned against him in 1941. So, having botched to take and hold Poland a second time, he concocted an AWFUL UNDERHANDED SHOCKING SURPRISE that he would implement in 1945.
It would have severe effects on the lives and families of our noble Polish heroes who had defeated Nazi-Fascism and liberated Italy. It would cause drastic consequences to all Polish Forces scattered over western Europe - and to their families left behind in Poland.
Still, in 1945 most Polish soldiers perceived the war's end to be the beginning of recovery and new hope. They were unaware of the conniving that Stalin had furtively initiated at the Tehran conference of 1943 and which he concluded with underhanded pretense in 1945 when the 'Big 3' had met at Yalta, earlier in February.
At Yalta, Winston Churchill had been too gullible in dealing with the Bolshevik snake, while Franklin Roosevelt had been a sick dying man who had attached the world's hopes to his forthcoming United Nations. For Poland, these shortcomings resulted in a betrayal, as their nation had been handed over to their original enemy of 1939.
The majority of Poland's armed forces did not know. Polish soldiers scattered over Europe were mostly unaware. However, those involved with the Allied Command knew that Stalin's crafty scheme might potentially result in their total loss of Polish sovereignty and independence. The sort that is known today as "free world" autonomy.
Their worst fears came true in 1945, as Poland was made captive of Joseph Stalin's oppressive rule under his Soviet totalitarian tyranny of communist domination.
Although Polish troops had never trusted the murderous red beast, the 1945 ploy of Joseph Stalin came with astonishing treachery in the eyes of their western allies. Soon the rest of the world would see how astoundingly wrong the outcome of WWII had been for Poland - the nation that they had initially gone to war for - Poland, the nation whose fight it rightfully was and who honorably fought it and won.
BUT, THE WORLD WOULD FORGET POLAND'S PLIGHT ALL TOO QUICKLY.
The war's spotlight drifted from the Holocaust to Berlin, from Potsdam to Tokyo, from the nuclear arms race to the Cold War. It was a new kind of war with an Iron Curtain behind which Joseph Stalin kept his international sins well hidden, as he persecuted religion and transformed himself into a god to be worshiped.
Poland's plight, however, is not completely forgotten. This link gives an accurate overview of the treachery and injustice that Poland had to endure for 50 years.
Our story narrates WWII experiences of the Italian family of Carlo and Victor Perantoni and their Polish friends. The family had been exporters of Italian wine with residence in eastern Poland's largest urban center, the city of Lwόw - while also keeping their ancestral domicile in northern Italy's rural Valpolicella wine region.
But, it's not a story about the protagonists. Instead, it's the true story of WWII as related by the daily lives and experiences of the protagonists. Historical chronicles unveiled in the story-line are scenes conveyed by the interaction and dialogue of the protagonists.
Uncovering those scenes on film will provide a transparent new view about WWII to the majority of the audience. Among the historical insights, our film will clearly depict Poland's central role in WWII and will answer this question: Why did the world go to war for Poland in 1939? ...ONLY TO GIVE HER BACK TO THE ENEMY IN 1945?
NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT. Descriptions and narrations presented herein are the intellectual property of its two authors: George Perantoni and Valerie Perantoni (except where other credit is bestowed). Also, contents publicized by them in Kickstarter, its campaign, and in their 2018 revision of "The War of Lions" with its mini-series "Reprisal of Lions" - are the exclusive copyrights of George and Valerie Perantoni.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY about World War II in Lwów, former eastern Poland, and Volargne di Dolcé in northern Italy's Adige river valley. The Perantoni family's accounts written in our screenplay originated directly from the story’s protagonists who survived the war and recounted their chronicles in their son’s book “Arrivederci Leopolis” written by George Perantoni and Sam Ivey (Amazon 2011).
Our screenplay's extraordinary historical story-line treats seven thought-provoking controversial subjects.
(In true chronology and order of the script)
1) MUSSOLINI IN POLAND
2) WAR ON THE SONS OF ITALY
3) MASSACRED BY COMRADES
4) THE IMPACT OF MONTE CASSINO
5) THE DESTRUCTION OF VOLARGNE
6) THE WORLD'S LEADERS BETRAY POLAND
7) JOSEPH STALIN STEALS THE WAR'S TROPHY
Each of the seven subjects is historically remarkable and presented in the context of several other sensational events. The seven controversies are NOT seven separate narratives. Instead, they're interconnected within the main story of an Italian family and their Polish friends from the 1930s in Lwów and who reappear as their liberators in 1945 north Italy.
The 7 controversial subjects that will bring attention
to our feature-film/mini-series are described next
1) MUSSOLINI IN POLAND
Our story begins ten years prior to World War II, in 1929 when Benito Mussolini held a luncheon in the main hall of Carlo Perantoni’s “Winiarnia Italia” and he gave a speech to a group of European admirers of Fascism. Prior to WWII the "Winiarnia Italia" served as the Italian Consulate's regional office for southeastern Poland. Carlo Perantoni was the Honorary Vice Consul.
There exists some controversy because there are no available records of Mussolini having been in Poland. Italy's obscure post-war history clearly explains the absence of records. Stll, some skeptics will pounce on the event with criticism as the name of Mussolini continues to stir emotions. They have an opinion -but we have a photograph.
OUR PHOTOGRAPH CLEARLY PROVES THAT HE WAS THERE. IT SHOWS MUSSOLINI WITH AN ENTOURAGE OF 14 MEN, PLUS CARLO AND VICTOR PERANTONI.
The Duce, Mussolini, is seated in center 3rd from left, next to Carlo Perantoni who is seated 3rd from right (bald with mustache). The photograph had been taken in the inner courtyard of our "Winiarnia Italia” (ulica Sykstuska 29, Lwów, former eastern Poland).
Victor Perantoni took the photo at the request of his father, Carlo Perantoni. He set the flag and the chairs, he arranged the group and set the camera on its tripod. Then, he stood up on a wine-crate next to Italy's Fascist flag, centered behind over the group as his Zeiss-Icon foldout camera snapped the photo by auto-shutter. Victor's mother and his aunt are looking out the window.
Some have speculated that the man in a light plaid suit (standing in center) might've been younger Adolf Hitler. But, neither Carlo nor Victor had ever confirmed it. It's likely that they would not have recognized him, being that in 1929 Hitler was a 40-year-old politician known mostly in Germany. While arranging the group, Victor had directed the man in the light plaid suit to stand in the middle in order to suit his taste for symmetry.
This photo had been taken in honor of Italy's Duce, Benito Mussolini, not the speculative Hitler. Note that all 16 individuals are wearing Italy's Fascist Party badges on the left lapels of their coats. The badges had been given to them by Mussolini earlier during the luncheon.
During WWII the photograph remained stored in Italy with the family's other heirlooms and collectibles and remained packed away also after the war, as the family started new lives over three continents. It was finally unpacked in 1981 when Victor retired to Florida.
Mussolini's 1929 Fascist luncheon and speech in our "Winiarnia Italia" provides the opening scene in "The War of Lions" feature-film (pilot) - plus 3 flashbacks in the Mini-Series. Some will say that Mussolini's luncheon scene couldn't have been in Poland - but it did. The scene ties-in with the main plot of our story, depicting civilian life during the Nazi-Fascist association of Mussolini with Hitler.
The film will also depict accounts of forgotten history, such as Fascism having begun as a "Youth Movement" in the 1920s. Also forgotten, is Mussolini's repeated rejections of Adolf Hitler's friendship for more than ten years prior to finally accepting his rapport in the 1930s. And why for many years did Mussolini refer to Adolf Hitler as a silly little monkey? "Scimmietta" in Italian, as in "monkey see, monkey do."
2) WAR ON THE SONS OF ITALY
In 1940, as a result of Mussolini's infamous Pact of Steel with Hitler, Italy's young men had been sent to war attached to German units. Many had been assigned as tactical flanks supporting the Wehrmacht in combat missions, even to Russia and elsewhere.
Then, in 1943 Italy declared war on her own soldiers! Unbelievable! But Why? Soon after the Allied landings, Italy surrendered and had been coerced to declare war on the Axis, including Italian troops attached to German forces! Italy declared war on her own sons!
Our film will draw attention to this tragic blunder caused by the association of Mussolini with Hitler. We'll bring it back to light from when it had been shunned due to Italy's post-war shame. The event should be recalled, not just for its historical value, but especially as a
21st-century alert to guard ourselves against similar leadership by madmen.
3) MASSACRED BY COMRADES
After Italy’s surrender in 1943, countless numbers of Italian troops became abandoned, confused, and under-nourished. Their rear support, kitchen and quartermaster ceased to exist. They suffered of hunger and they had no basic human necessities.
Italy had switched to the side of the Allies, and as a result the German forces to which they had been attached had become ruthlessly unfriendly.
Consequently, German combat units in various locations of Europe had been responsible for the massacres of their Italian attachments. Entire Italian military units had been rounded up by German forces, disarmed, and then massacred by machine-gun fire!
The Italian division that had been stationed in Lwόw, Poland, had become so desperately hungry that they resorted to trading arms and ammunition with Polish partisans for food! After the division had departed their post and began marching homeward, their German attachment pursued and murdered all of them.
Due to these sensitive appalling events and wanton scarcities of post-war Fascist records, modern history of WWII in Italy had been minimized. Still, many Italian families have remained assertive on the culpability and truth about the losses of their loved ones.
By 1946, these cover-ups in Italy's new republic filled Italian streets with indignity and distrust. Uncovering this story in a feature film with talented actors will provide today’s generations a useful (but currently scarce) perspective about nationalism and about
what really happens when nations go to war against each other.
4) THE IMPACT of MONTE CASSINO
In early 1944, several Allied units from various nations battled for three and half months, but failed to overtake the German stronghold in the Abbey on Monte Cassino.
At last, the task had been assigned to the brave Polish 2nd Corps. Despite massive impediments of concrete rubble from earlier bombs and shelling, they launched a fierce uphill attack that, in places, had intensified into fearless hand-to-hand combat.
Notwithstanding the ostensible impossibilities, in May 1944 the valiant Polish 2nd Corps achieved a noteworthy and heroic victory on Monte Cassino. Anxiously, the Wehrmacht took notice and began a northward retrograde that gradually became a full German retreat.
On Monte Cassino, the intrepid soldiers of Poland's 2nd Corps had finally gotten their long-awaited reprisal on Nazi Germany. It was the main event that they had patiently anticipated for two years and had dreamed of it since 1939. It was their expected encounter with the enemy who had initiated their nation’s demise.
It was Germany's day of defeat when its criminal military forsook their sacred oath to their Führer and disowned his promises of a 1000-year Reich. Instead, on Monte Cassino they learned to dread Poland's retaliation.
It was the day when, in Italy, all units of the Wehrmacht's villains had embarked on a northward retreat fueled by a string of defeats and their newly acquired common fear of Polish troops. Germany's identity had been smudged by Poland.
Over the next eleven months, General Władysław Anders and his victorious Polish 2nd Corps, together with their sacrificed heroes, will deliver Poland's retribution to Germany.
It would be a legal and just reprisal from any point of view, even the by the Wehrmacht.
German troops would come to realize that they are the 'bad guys'!
IT WAS POLAND'S WAR OF REPRISAL - And for its grand finale, Poland defeats the Third Reich, WINNING EVERY BATTLE - Thus revealing the audacious tenacity and fearless determination of honorable Polish soldiers!
5) THE DESTRUCTION of VOLARGNE. Sudden and utter obliteration of our town ... nine months before the atomic bomb.
BACKGROUND. The infamous “Pact of Steel” had authorized German military units to occupy strategic positions on Italian soil. Mussolini’s propaganda had promoted the German presence as a warm friendship between the two nations.
The majority of Italians, however, have misgivings about the situation. Their mistrust is rudely confirmed in September 1943 directly after the Allied landings at Salerno. German troops everywhere in Italy abruptly cease to conduct themselves honorably and with respect toward Italian citizens.
From the impact of Poland’s victory on Monte Cassino, the retreating Wehrmacht units reorganize into lines of defense on a northward retrograde. Their directions gradually lead to Hitler’s 'puppet theater' named “Repubblica Sociale Italiana” (R.S.I) where the Führer holds the strings of his chief marionette, the Duce.
The ever-changing military posture of the Wehrmacht, coupled with the twisted attitude of their troops exhibits far more than a normal switch from garrison to tactical. Instead, the behavior of German soldiers changes from being Italy’s dutiful guests to an oppressive occupation force, much like Germany does in other lands that they forcibly occupy.
German soldiers become unfriendly, arrogant, and boldly lawless towards Italians. Looting Italian shops and businesses is their new practice, declaring to the shop owners that it's necessary to prevent goods from sustaining the advancing enemy. However, the principal items they regularly loot are cigarettes, wine, and liquor.
Years earlier, Mussolini had promised to the Italian people that the presence of German troops would defend Italy. But, after the Allied landings, the German strategic positions prove to be NOT for defense of Italy, but ultimately for protection of Germany.
Clearly, Hitler's orders are not directives to defend Italy’s peninsular mainland. Instead, it's obvious that his primary concern is to block the Allied advance from gaining access to Alpine mountain passes leading to Germany.
It becomes clear to Italians the underlying reason that Hitler had Mussolini rescued from imprisonment and restored to power as Duce of the north R.S.I. This way, Mussolini is reduced to the role of 'alpine gate-guard' to maintain Germany's safety buffer.
In summer of 1944,Hitler's strategy is to send excess arms and non-essential equipment across the Alps to augment the defense of Austria and southern Germany against attacks by new western forces from the Normandy invasion. The remaining units in north Italy would defend Mussolini's R.S.I. as Germany's safety buffer in the south.
By August, the movement of excess arms and equipment, coupled with the Wehrmacht's massive retrograde to the Alpine defense line, is creating a traffic jam of military vehicles heading to the Brenner 'road-and-rail' in the vicinity of our town, Volargne.
The entire huge German traffic jam bottlenecks at the Brenner road's rail-head which is precisely located adjacent to our town, Volargne. That's where arms and equipment are being rail-loaded and transported for the defense of Austria and southern Germany.
Meanwhile, commanders of Wehrmacht units arriving from the south into Mussolini's R.S.I. are clearly in disarray by the victorious Polish advance. Their ability to defend the Lombardy Plain at the Po river is failing and their defense for the R.S.I. will predictably fail also.
Germany has one last chance to sustain resistance against the advancing Allied front in Italy. Thus, Hitler commissions Albert Speer's 'Nazi Party Todt Engineers' to carry out a new strategy of defense along the Alpine foothills. Their strategy involves massive constructions of military obstacles, mine-fields, and strategic emplacements of defensive positions.
Thus, in early September, Mussolini's Nazi-Fascist R.S.I. issues special orders allocating zones of responsibility to each Wehrmacht unit arriving from the south. The orders are to construct defensive positions emplaced with military obstacles strategically located to prevent the Allied advance from approaching the Alpine mountain passes.
A stipulation requires that strategic priority is given to block access to the 'Brenner Pass Road & Rail' in vicinity of VOLARGNE di DOLCÉ - the native town of the Perantoni family.
CIVILIAN SLAVE LABOR: Germany's new strategic defense plan is drawn-up by Hitler’s Nazi Party Engineers, the 'Fritz Todt Organization' headed by Albert Speer. It demands that the huge construction and emplacement work be provided by each assigned Wehrmacht unit UTILIZING SLAVE LABOR FROM LOCAL CIVILIAN POPULATIONS.
Moreover, the Todt Engineers have a secret plan to prevent Allied Forces from accessing the Brenner Pass. But, in time it fails as well. It gets thwarted by a US Air Corps aerial attack on the single resource that the Todt Engineers needed to carry out their secret plan.
Inadvertently, our town Volargne is completely destroyed killing numerous fellow citizens and all the town's school-children. Also, the life of a young American pilot is sacrificed in the attack ... but saving the lives of countless many, and cutting short the war in Europe.
START SECRET PLAN
6) THE BETRAYAL OF POLAND - A single political compromise manipulated by Joseph Stalin on western world leaders endorses Poland's historic 50-year captivity under Bolshevik tyranny.
In act 3 the Perantoni family is reconnected with their Lwów friends, André Frodel and Franki Mrowicki, who had fought from Monte Cassino to Bologna with the Polish 2nd Corps, Italy's valiant liberators who had come from Russian prisons under the leadership of Polish General Władysław Anders, to defeat Nazi-Fascism.
Lwów's 'Padre' Michele Kolbuch also reappears in act 3 more than once, as he drives André and Franki to Mantova in his sporty white 1938 convertible Lancia Astura Cabriolet, skirted rear wheels, rakishly inclined grill, and bearing Vatican license plates.
NOTE: The narrations in act 3 are correlated to the fall of Fascism, the end of WWII, the unsung impact that Polish forces had made in defeating Nazi-Fascism, and their gradual heartbreaking sad realization of having been betrayed.
In the summer of 1945, the Perantoni family give an "end-of-war" victory celebration at their Mantua bottling-shop, the "Red Bridge Cafe" tavern, followed by a family dinner with friends and relatives. The guests of honor are André and Franki and Padre Michele.
That day and all night the friends share their wartime adventures and experiences. They narrate, contemplate, and in the end together they agree that the 2nd Corps' sacrifices had given Poland its long-awaited reprisal on Nazi Germany's evil, "right here in Italy."
After dinner, Victor, Carlo, and the rest of the Perantoni clan share with André, Franki, and Padre about Italy's events and consequences under Germany's oppression and the arrogance of its soldiers which began the day Italy had surrendered to the Allies.
The conversation drifts to the inebriated days and drunken nights of Wehrmacht troops, especially all that the Germans had said in their drunken stupors. Much of it reflected their FEAR of Polish boots on the ground - Their FEAR of Poland's reprisal.
The ladies retired to bed, while the men talked all night narrating each other's wartime experiences, sharing views and details observed from both sides of enemy lines.
NOTE: The script gradually leads to the infamous betrayal of Poland, depicting its effects on André Frodel, Franki Mrowicki, and all Polish forces scattered over Europe.
7) JOSEPH STALIN STEALS THE WAR'S TROPHY
On the topic of WWII, most film audiences in western nations, especially Anglo-American audiences, are aware of the Normandy invasion, the Liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, and many other major events of the Western Allies. While citizens of the Eastern Bloc are mostly aware of Hitler's assault on Russia, the Battle of Stalingrad, the success of Soviet counter-offensives that forced Germany out of Russia, and certainly the Battle for Berlin.
BUT, WWII IN ITALY IS SORELY LACKING REPRESENTATION FROM THE FILM INDUSTRY. WHY?
Was it just a dull war on a charming peninsula? Not at all. Instead, Italy's narratives of WWII feature naval landings under enemy fire, heroic amphibious assaults, followed by an intrepid invasion of the mainland with victorious battle actions by heroic protagonists, and striking defeats of noteworthy antagonists. More than plenty intrigue and suspense for film.
Furthermore, the very history of WWII in Italy has the ability to reach the interest of diverse audiences. The Anglo-Americans of the Italian campaign, its Polish components, and the various other nations who took part in the campaign. Notable are also the multiple groups of partisans, and even the various antagonists in Italy who relate to having 'switched sides.
The history of WWII in Italy is filled with captivating details about the war's origin. Its various functions and fascinating development. The Italian campaign's riveting battle accounts and its grand contribution in defeating the Third Reich.
NONETHELESS, WHY HAS THE FILM INDUSTRY LARGELY IGNORED WWII IN ITALY?
Could the reason be due to obtaining greater benefits elsewhere in the former European Theater of War? Or perhaps, because prior to 1943 Italy had been part of the enemy Axis? THOSE CANNOT BE THE REASONS.
Filmmakers have NOT categorically snubbed WWII in Italy. Moreover, the film industry has never slighted making movies about Italy and Italians. But the topic of "WWII IN ITALY" has been influenced by a powerful sinister force many years ago, and its effect is still with us.
Risks and challenges
CONFIDENT AND READY: In 2011 the Perantoni family began preparing the presentations of historical accounts narrated in our family novel "Arrivederci Leopolis" (a true story).
In 2014 we began producing its screenplay titled "Filatelista Fascista" and "The Lion's War." In 2015 our finished screenplay was titled "The War of Lions" and it received three winning awards soon afterward: Monte Carlo, Monaco (2015), and Milano, Italy (2016).
The encouraging comments given to us on social media and by our family relatives, local friends, and neighbors have justified the time and efforts that we have given to this project. So, I am confident and quite prepared to take this project all the way to the silver screen.
KICKSTARTER BACKER REWARDS: We are currently listing several items mentioned in our family novel and in its winning screenplay, as well as other items that had belonged to the protagonists and that are directly related to the book and its screenplay.
All Kickstarter Backer Rewards offered for support in this project are my legal possessions and are fully controlled by me, George Perantoni, the project creator.
Neither I nor any members of my family nor anyone else associated with this creation have any incomplete Kickstarter projects that are pending completion, as this is our first and only crowdfunding project.
This has been an age-old important project for my family. Their encouragement over the years has given me sufficient drive and preparation for overcoming any challenges that this project might meet.
This project's costly production will be overseen by me with the guidance of our legal counsel. From the beginning, our primary concern has been to overcome any challenges and to avoid all risks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter