Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Foreigners usually recognise a given country by popular cities, places, cuisine, language and famous people that inhabit it. Of course Poles who are famous within the country are not necessarily famous world-wide but usually they mean a lot to certain communities. Biographies of some well-known Poles have been screened and now everybody can get to know them and their life better.
Chopin - Desire of love (Chopin - Pragnienie milosci) tells the story of Frederic Chopin’s life. This most popular Polish musician composed pieces that expressed his love and longing over Poland. This fragile man, suffering from tuberculosis, proved that even short life can be full of passion. The film, directed by Jerzy Antczak in 2003, depicts this genius composer in everyday life and especially his relationship with George Sand.
Faustyna (Faustina) is a biographical film on short but intense life of Maria Faustyna Kowalska – a Polish nun, who had visions of Jesus Christ. The film, made in 1995 by Jerzy Lukaszewicz, not only shows the reality of the convent – as Saint Faustina was disappointed by nuns who surrounded her – and the goodness of this simple nun, but also the history of the Divine Mercy image that was painted with her instructions (according to the visions). Nowadays one can read the diary of Saint Faustina (born as Helena Kowalska) and visit the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki (Krakow, Poland) nearby the church where her visions took place.
Korczak (Korczak) is a film, made by Andrzej Wajda in 1990, about Janusz Korczak – Polish doctor and writer with Jewish roots. Although there were many people who wanted to rescue Korczak, he decided to stay with children that he took care of and share their fate in concentration camp in Treblinka. The doctor, killed by Nazis in 1942, had a great influence on attitude of teachers and parents towards children and students. The controversial film depicts the choice of Polish-Jewish humanitarian.
Pianista (The Pianist) portrays popular Jewish-Polish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman. The film, screened by Roman Polanski in 2002, during the occupation of Warsaw is adaptation of the autobiography of the same name. The movie gained numerous nominations and won prizes (for example Academy Award for Best Actor - Adrien Brody). The story shares deep connections with the director – Roman Polanski – as he, as a small child, escaped from Krakow Ghetto.
To Kill a Priest (Zabic ksiedza) the film was directed by Agnieszka Holland in 1988. Jerzy Popiełuszko, whose story is depicted there, was a priest murdered in 1984 by Soviet operated communist internal intelligence agency – for being associated with workers and trade unionists from Solidarity movement. The film shows his life shortly before death and his assassination.
Karol, a Man Who Became Pope (Karol. Czlowiek, ktory zostal Papiezem), directed by Giacomo Battiato in 2005, is the first part of the movie that shows life of, probably the most known Pole, Karol Wojtyla (later John Paul II). The first film tells the story of his youth and adolescence until the moment when Karol Wojtyla becomes the Pope. Although some parts of the story are fictionalised, it is still worth to see how a simple but talented in many ways man from Wadowice became one of the people who change the world.
Karol: The Pope, The Man (Karol. Papiez, ktory pozostał Czlowiekiem) is a second part of the movie about life of John Paul II. This time however, the life of John Paul II is shown from the moment when he already is the Pope till his death. As the title says, the film proves that although Karol Wojtyla became one of the most important people of 20th century, he still remained a man that he used to be. The movie, directed also by Giacomo Battiato, was made one year after its first part – in 2006.