The War of Lions
THE WAR OF LIONS: Screenplay adapted from "Arrivederci Leopolis" by George A. Perantoni and Sam Ivey.
LOGLINE: Based on a true story. WWII comes to a boil, forcing an Italian family and friends in Eastern Poland to flee, and henceforth rely on wit and luck to survive.
SYNOPSIS: Lwòw, the Polish ‘city of lions’ known as Leopoli to Italians, was central Europe’s rising hub for commerce and a notable center of education, and a magnet for scholars and researchers. But then, its vibrant growth became suffocated by post-war Soviet oppression.
Before the war Carlo Perantoni operated a long standing family wine import business centered in Lwòw at the ‘Winiarnia Italia’ wine and pasta tavern. Loyal patrons included members of the Lwòw Stamp Club who often played cards using stamps like poker chips; The Vatican Emissary priest, Padre Michele Kolbuch; André Frodel, a printer, lithographer, stamp artist; and Franki Morawiecki, a student at the Polytechnic University. Carlo Perantoni’s two sons, Victor and Luigi, were the main bar keepers. Like a playboy, Victor was popular with girls in both countries: Italy and Poland.
Carlo was also the Honorary Vice Consul for Italian Foreign Affairs in Eastern Poland. It was “good for business” he always said. But on 28 August 1939 a phone call from the Italian Consulate alerted Italians to evacuate Poland without delay. Days later, Germany invaded Poland and WWII began.
Carlo and Romana, his wife, and their son Luigi returned to the family’s ancestral home: Volargne di Dolcé, in north Italy’s Valpolicella foothills. Victor instead, who was eligible for Italy’s Fascist conscription, headed for an extended stay with family in Switzerland. Lwòw was bombed, and Padre Michele’s orphanage was severely damaged. With financial help provided by Carlo Perantoni from Italy, Padre set out for the Vatican with 203 Catholic and Jewish orphans, armed only with forged papers created by André and members of the Lwòw Stamp Club.
As the war drags on, Franki was commandeered into the newly Soviet-formed Ander's Army. But the Russians considered his friend, André Frodel, too old to fight at fifty-one and sent him to a labor gulag. With forgery he was able to scam his way to the Polish 2nd Corps where he reconnected with Franki in Egypt. In the meantime Victor’s Jewish girlfriend Dani faced deportation to a Nazi death camp. From Switzerland Victor plots his unauthorized return to war-torn Poland.
Upon his return to Lwòw Victor was promptly arrested by a patrol of Italian soldiers. The Italian Division Commandant, an avid stamp collector, made Victor a deal to run the military post office for Axis Forces. His post office job allowed Victor to blackmail an SS officer and his Wehrmacht lover to ‘look away’ as he carried out Dani’s elaborate escape from Lwòw’s prison ghetto.
In time Victor returned to his family home in Volargne di Dolcé (in north Italy's pre-alpine Valpolicella region, province of Verona.) After the Allied southern invasion of 1943, the Perantoni wine business had become an obligatory canteen service for a congested retreat of very anxious Wehrmacht units. Being on the other side, André and Franki took part in the liberation of Italy and they reconnected with Padre at the Vatican. Eventually the three of them traveled north disguised as clergy, for a festive reunion with the Perantoni family ... amid uneasy Germans.
On 21 Nov. 1944, Victor witnessed an aerial attack on a Nazi ordnance train by Allied warplanes not knowing its true contents. Fifteen railcars of TNT parked adjacent to Volargne were detonated, instantly reducing the town to mere rubble and dust ... a wartime accident of huge negligence caused by Hitler and Mussolini. With loud emotion at this catastrophic event Victor denounces IL Duce and Fascism as he stands among the ruins caused by one of the largest man-made explosions before the atomic bomb.
The main characters survived but their way of life was irretrievably lost.
Adapted from “Arrivederci Leopolis” by George Perantoni
5800 Shasta Drive, Orlando, Florida. 32810
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George Perantoni and Sam Ivey.WriterGeorge A. Perantoni "Arrivederci Leopolis"
Victor Perantoni, photographer (deceased 2002)WriterPhotography screenplay characters and events.
Project Type:Screenplay, Other
Number of Pages:99
Country of Origin:United States
Monaco I.F.F. Best Adapted ScreenplayMonte Carlo, Principality of Monaco.
December 6, 2015
Best Adapted Screenplay.
Monaco I.F.F. Best Special MentionMonte Carlo, Principality of Monaco.
December 6, 2015
Best Special Mention Screenplay.
Best Unproduced Script: International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, Milan.Milano, Italy
December 3, 2016
Best Unproduced Script
Based on a true story set against the background of World War II. This is a narrative of the 20th century depicting historical events as experienced through the lives of an Italian wine exporter and his family.
It is early September, 2001. New York’s World Trade Center is no more. In Orlando, Florida, Vittorio Perantoni (Victor), now 89 years of age, sees that event as but a continuation of what began in 1914 – the First World War. But why? In his teens during the 1930’s, an Italian raised and living in Lwow, Poland, he and his older brother Luigi work with their father, Carlo, at operating the family’s successful winery-pasta tavern, and managing their import-export business of distributing fine wines from Italy.
But Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland changes all of that. When the Italian Consulate orders Italian nationals to leave Poland, the Perantonis are suddenly forced to leave their considerable wealth behind. Victor’s girlfriends will also be left behind as he flees to Switzerland to avoid Italy’s fascist draft. Left too are his friends Andre, Franki, and Padre. All of these persons will be scattered as they face fears, hardships, and abuses of war.
The war drags on as Europe burns. Victor’s friends Andre and Franki are commandeered into the Russian Army, his girlfriend Dani faces deportation to a Nazi death camp; and Vittorio too is nearly captured and imprisoned. With much risk the friends re-unite across enemy lines, but all are wondering: will life ever be the same again?
The 'Lion's War' is named after the city where Vittorio Perantoni was born (Lwow-Lviv-Leopolis), which translation means 'Lion' and 'City of Lion'. The 'Lion's War' refers to the historical fact that the population of Eastern Poland, Ukrainian Galicia, and the city of Lwow were invaded four times by two aggressive and violent armies in the first two years of World War II. Polish soldiers fought valiantly against Germany for freedom of their country, but in 1945 when the Allied nations celebrated victory, Poland fell captive to the Soviets once more, and their brave Polish army could not return to their homeland, having gained nothing for their sacrifices.