27 AUGUST 2017, Sunday

18.00 Review of Aleksander Ford films: "People of the Vistula" (Poland, 1938, 75 mins)

An adaptation of the pre-war novel "Wisła" [The Vistula], by Helena Boguszewska and Jerzy Kornacki, both of whom also co-wrote the script. Directed by Aleksander Ford together with Jerzy Zarzycki, the film's premise was primarily a group portrait of the boatmen sailing barges on the Vistula river, but the final effect also featured elements of a melodrama stemming from the love story between a female owner of one of the barges and a petty thief preying along the route of the Vistula.


28 AUGUST 2017, Monday

18.00 Review of Aleksander Ford films: "Sabra" [Chalutzim] (Poland, 1933, 80 mins)

The title is a metaphor: "sabra" is the name of a cactus growing in the desert [prickly pear], and it is also what Jewish children born and raised in Palestine were called.This film by Ford, who set out on a film trip to Palestine in 1933, was an attempt to make a documentary tale about Jewish immigrants from Poland struggling with a lack of water. A sub-plot was the affection of a fellah's daughter for a Jewish boy who has come to Palestine. The film's producer, against Ford's wishes, gave the film a positive ending: a sequence of envisioned images of the glittering future that awaits settlers in Palestine.


30 AUGUST 2017, Wednesday

18.00 Review of Aleksander Ford films: "Graniczna Street" [Border Street] (Poland, 1948, 120 mins)

One of the first post-war feature films, and also the first to take on the dramatic subject of the Holocaust. By setting the film in a Warsaw townhouse, whose inhabitants – especially the children appearing in the film – represented a cross-section of society at that time, Ford created a shocking picture of the lives and mutual relations of Jews and Poles during the war, which are burdened with incidental anti-Semitism, but above all, with intuitive humanism.


31 AUGUST 2017, Thursday

19.00 Review of Aleksander Ford films: "Mir kumen on" [Children Must Laugh] (Poland, 1936, 60 mins) – premiere of the digitally restored film

Screenwriters: Wanda Wasilewska, Jakub Pat; Cinematography: Stanisław Lipiński; Music: Henryk Kon, Jankiel Trupiański

The screening will be preceded by an introduction by Anna Szczepańska, PhD, on Ford's works. Then after the film there will be a debate on the film's history and its digital reconstruction featuring the different partners involved in the project, including: Serge Bromberg (Lobster Films), Martin Koerber (Deutsche Kinemathek) Elżbieta Wysocka (FINA) and Anna Szczepańska (Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne).

The film depicts the daily life, educational methods and treatment of children suffering from tuberculosis at the Włodzimierz Medem Sanatorium in Miedzeszyn. From 1926-1939, almost 10,000 children from poor Jewish families were treated in the facility.The film does not feature professional actors and is full of documentary authenticity. In 1942, the employees and patients of the sanatorium were transported to the extermination camp at Treblinka.

"Mir kumen on" was produced by the Association for the Włodzimierz Medem Sanatorium for Children and co-financed by the Jewish socialist party, Bund. Unapproved for distribution by the film censors, it was presented in Poland at numerous private shows. The official film premiere took place in France. The film restoration was a joint project by the National Film Archive, the Museum of Modern Art, Deutsche Kinemathek and Lobster Films. The work was completed in 2016.


1 SEPTEMBER 2017, Friday

18.00 Review of Aleksander Ford films: "Przysięgamy Ziemi Polskiej" [We Swear to Poland, Our Motherland] (Poland, 1943, 22 mins) | "Majdanek - cmentarzysko Europy" [Majdanek - the Cemetery of Europe] (Poland / USSR, 1944, 23 mins)

"Przysięgamy Ziemi Polskiej" [We Swear to Poland, Our Motherland] was the movie which opened production at the Czołówka Film Unit, established in the USSR in the 1st Infantry Division named after Tadeusz Kościuszko. Aleksander Ford was the head of the Czołówka Film Unit and on 15 July, 1943, he and his camera operator, Stanisław Wohl, immortalised the oath taken by the division's soldiers and their commander - Colonel, later General, Berling. This was a breakthrough for those Poles who had remained in the USSR after General Anders' army had left. The pompous tone of the film was supposed to confirm the impression of a turning point: those who took the oath at that time then came with their units to Poland.

"Majdanek – cmentarzysko Europy" [Majdanek - the Cemetery of Europe] is a documentary which recorded live the moments immediately after the liberation of the Majdanek concentration camp in July 1944.Ford's film crew recorded excerpts of the dramatic accounts told by the released prisoners. The most important narrative device in creating an atmosphere of sheer terror was the juxtaposition of the testimonies of the camp torturers testifying in court with the images of the death of thousands of their victims, after whom there remained only their ashes and the memory of those closest to them. 

  • "People of the Vistula" (1938), dir. Jerzy Zarzycki, Aleksander Ford, source: Fototeka FINA

  • "People of the Vistula" (1938), dir. Jerzy Zarzycki, Aleksander Ford, source: Fototeka FINA

  • "Border Street" (1948), dir. Aleksander Ford, source: Fototeka FINA, photo: Jerzy Gaus

  • "Border Street" (1948), dir. Aleksander Ford, source: Fototeka FINA, photo: Jerzy Gaus

When and Where

27 August – 1 September 2017

Iluzjon Cinema

ul. Narbutta 50a

02-541 Warsaw