Nowa Huta Film Marathon

Last Friday, August 31, the Nowa Huta district had its own little holiday as a two-day film marathon weaved history with the present. The festival was a brainchild of film director, Jerzy Ridan.

Last weekend’s marathon was the fourth event of its kind in Nowa Huta, but this was the first time that shows were held indoors, in the snug interior of Sfinx Cinema. Past events were held on the square by al. Roz and would gather crowds of spectators. The square was particularly suitable because of its historical symbolism as the location where a monument of Lenin stood until 1989. Nowa Huta was created entirely at the will of a Socialist-Communist political system. From the onset the district became a focus of attention. Among the intrigued, either stimulated by propaganda or by personal curiosity, the attentive eye of the camera was ever-present.”

The building works began in 1949. Since 1950, around 300 films have been made about Nowa Huta; this is more than of any other city in Poland, even more than Warsaw,” says Ridan. These were not only documentaries or news reports, but also feature films. Independent directors were especially interested in telling stories of Nowa Huta workers’ everyday lives.

When filmmakers steered away from the propaganda’s beam, these were unveiled to be less than ideal.”Zagubione uczucia” (“Lost Feelings”), by Jerzy Zarzycki, is an example of opposition to the period’s propaganda cinema. It illustrates the tragedy of a devoted laborer who faces misery at home as a result of the socialist system for which she works.

“The film is made black-and-white in reference to the so-called ?black documentary’ style aiming to present authentic existence, a real human,” explains Ridan. When first released, the film was shown for only a few days before it was banned by censors.

A”Nowohucka Kronika Filmowa” (Nowa Huta Film Chronicle) project started three years ago as a newsreel collection by a young film-crew. Their goal is to find contemporary positive social and cultural initiatives and spread their message through film.The clips at the festival showed girls in a local wrestling team, a newly opened club with an art gallery, the history of the oldest bookstore in Nowa Huta, an amateur Film Club, and a youth theater.

Similarly, this year’s production of Szymon Jakubowski, “Krakow dla poczatkujacych” (“Krakow for Beginners”), aspired to dislodge the negative stereotypes about Nowa Huta as being a dull and dangerous district. The films at the Nowa Huta Marathon formed an overview of the site’s transformation, highlighting its rapid development in recent years.

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