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"Crucified" Poland wins at Jihlava documentary festival

Stasik denounces his country's discomfort in 'Opera about Poland

01 November, 10:27

by Adam Hanzelewicz


(ANSA) - JIHLAVA (CZECH REP.) - A gloomy vision of today's Poland, a ''self-destructive'' country, living in ''myths and misconceptions'', devastated by consumerism, pervaded by ''a conventional Catholicism'', with so many ''skeletons in the closet''. This is the vision proposed by Polish director Piotr Stasik in 'Opera about Poland', screened for the first time at the 21st International Jihlava Documentary Festival, where it won the 'Between Sees' section, dedicated to the best Central and Eastern European movies.

''I am very happy,'' said Stasik, ''because I was not convinced that my movie would be so appreciated and above all could be understood''. The motivations of the jury, composed of Nicole Brenez, Tiffany Pritchard, Robert Kirchhoff, Ilya Gladshtein and Thomas Ostbye, described the iconography of the work with a series of short definitions: ''World Emergence, Hysterical Analysis, Destructive Mosaic, Heretic Evidence, Audio Attack, Anti-cathartic work''.

The meaning of the film is clear right in the first shocking scene: an eagle, which is symbol of Poland, nailed to a cross, while in the background, a Russian conversation takes place between the control tower and the cockpit of a plane, clear allusion to Smolensk plane crash (2010), that wiped out much of Poland's political and military elite. ''The focus is on crucified Poland,'' he explained, ''although I do not say it quite explicitly. This is a vision that has sprung from the depths of my soul, just like when you write a poem. In fact, the crucified animal is not an eagle but a hawk, so I did not make any direct reference''.

''The film originates,'' Stasik added, ''from an inner contradiction: on the one hand the sense of loss and repulsion for what is happening in my country and on the other my great love for Poland. Whenever I come home I feel uncomfortable: we do not live wisely, we do what TV suggests, we want more than we have, relying on lies, false beliefs, bogus needs''.

The vision of the Catholic Church is also caricatural, according to the director. ''If you look at the Polish Catholic,'' he said, ''you find a Catholic facade: let's say that a husband beats his wife at home, then he goes to church, confesses his sin and everything is all right''.

Capitalism has played a key role in the people's decline.

''Materialism is deemed to be very important - Stasik underlined - but this depends on our history: the elite was wiped out, we were robbed and abandoned, then the money and the ideas of capitalism were imposed on this poor and oppressed country'' .

Reactions to the film at home have been very contrasting so far.

''There are certainly some good aspects in Poland,'' the director says, ''but I generally feel that the Polish soul is unfortunately made up of what I put into my work. I see that, and this probably has also a strong influence on the political situation in our country, today's politicians excite negative attitudes in our people and unfortunately we have so many skeletons in the closet, and we have not been able to cope with them so far''.

''The worst thing that's happening in Poland - the director added - is that you do not know how bad could the situation get, and you don't know what to do: you may continue to do what you usually do, because the situation will reach something of a turning point, or you may react by taking to streets, just like the man who set himself on fire a few days ago in Warsaw because he could no longer bear that burden''.

''Therefore - Stasik said - I know I made a film few will see, but I also know that bit by bit you can change the situation: the elite who watches the movies can decide something, and the elite's decision can lead to decisions made by any single citizen, because each one of us can decide and do something to change the world. Not only common people made mistakes, but also those who ruled, so I think that making movies can give rise to new events''.(ANSA).

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