ABOUT THE REVIEW
About the review
About the review
The review will feature two films by Ford which constitute an important contribution to Polish cinema in the Yiddish language. The first is "Sabra" [Chalutzim] (1933), a tale shot in Palestine – with a melodramatic thread in the background – about Jewish immigrants from Poland struggling in the desert with a lack of water.
The other film – financed by the Bund socialist party but prevented from going on general cinematic release (as it was felt to promote communism) by the censors of the Second Polish Republic – is "Mir kumen on" (1936), known under the Polish title "Droga młodych" [Children Must Laugh], a unique documentary showing the micro-community of the Włodzimierz Medem Sanatorium in Miedzeszyn. In this centre, from the mid-1920s, children from poor Jewish working-class families suffering from tuberculosis were treated. The film's premiere at the Iluzjon on 31 August – in a digitally restored and almost complete version – will be the festival's special event.It will be attended by members of Aleksander Ford's family and Léa Minczeles, one of the initiators of the project of the reconstruction and digital restoration of "Mir kumen on". Before the screening there will be a speech byAnna Szczepańska, PhD, from the Sorbonne in Paris, a film historian and researcher into the works of Ford.After the screening, the partners involved in this international project – Serge Bromberg (Lobster Films), Elżbieta Wysocka (FINA) and Martin Koerber (Deutsche Kinemathek) – will talk about the background to the project's realisation and the challenges they faced, with a number of different incomplete versions of the film and the desire to make their version as faithful as possible to the original.
"People of the Vistula" (1938) completes Ford's pre-war filmography – in the 1920s he was already being hailed as the golden boy of Polish cinema – and his status as one of the best contemporary directors was confirmed by the (unfortunately missing) "Legion Ulicy" [Legion of the Streets AKA Ulica] (1932). The 1938 film, co-directed with Jerzy Zarzycki and based on the novel by Helena Boguszewska and Jerzy Kornacki entitled "Wisla" [The Vistula], was intended to remain faithful to the ideas of the START group of filmmakers, from which they both originated, focusing on realistic cinema with a social conscience. In practice, the young filmmakers had to give in to the so-called "industry" and to producers demanding that the story about the lives of boatmen sailing barges on the Vistula river be embellished with a melodramatic thread. Despite this, "People of the Vistula" remains one of the most interesting films of the 1930s – and the only one in which the superb actress Stanisława Wysocka played her most famous role of Matyjaska.
"Przysięgamy Ziemi Polskiej" [We Swear to Poland, Our Motherland] (1943) is the documentary film which marks the beginning of the director's war period. In September 1939, he found himself in the USSR where, together with fellow "Start" member Jerzy Bossak, he organised the Czołówka Film Unit of the First Division of the Polish Army in 1943.The oath sworn by the soldiers of this unit and their commander, Colonel Berling, is immortalised here. "Majdanek – the Cemetery of Europe" (1944) was the first documentary about the Nazi concentration camps, a reportage film shot just after liberation of the camp featuring the harrowing accounts of the prisoners.
Chronologically, the last of the films in the review is "Ulica Graniczna" [Border Street] (1948), one of the first post-war feature films in Polish cinematography. For Ford, then a key and highly influential person in Polish cinema, it was a return to Jewish themes, but now in the shadow of the Holocaust. "Border Street", awar-time story of the residents of a Warsaw townhouse representing a cross-section of social attitudes towards the occupation and the Holocaust, although somewhat simplified, still remains one of the first and most important films on this subject, with the moving portrayal by Władysław Godik of Liberman the tailor.
When and Where
27 August – 1 September 2017
ul. Narbutta 50a