„Birthplace” (1992)

After the projection there will be a discussion with the participation of the director and Tadeusz Sobolewski. The meeting will be chaired by dr Bartosz Kwieciński

Wide screen shot 2014 05 21 at 11.21.04

„Birthplace” (1992) is an outstanding documentary by Paweł Łoziński. The film, even when watched after years still has its accusatory powers and moments which every documentary film-maker dreams of capturing; it includes probably the most shocking scene in Polish documentary cinema: the discovery of the grave of Henryk Grynberg’s father who was murdered by his Polish neighbours. The scene is hypnotic, unusually naturalistic with the power of Shakespearian drama. The sequence in which Henryk Grynberg touches the skull of his murdered father is not a Hamlet mise-en-scène; it is the moment of truth, a symbol of shameful secrets hidden by Polish, muddy roads, which are a cemetery for the Jews in hiding. This grave was discovered through the power of documentary and the memory of it was exhumed and revived. Bartosz Kwieciński

„The entire film is made of what people say, but not necessarily think; or they say, but it did not necessarily happen. I wanted to make a movie about the Polish and the Jews during the occupation, but not a clichéd or nice one, telling the story of how the Polish who helped meet with them after years. The Grynberg family were in Radoszyn the only assimilated Jewish family; everybody knew them. People were burdened by the crime. They talked to us because they needed to clear their conscience. They were not afraid to meet with Henryk Grynberg. The only person who was afraid was a brother of the alleged murderer. The film was vastly awarded around the world, but not at the festival in Kraków. People feared it, considered „controversial”; it was suspected to have been staged. When I was showing „Birthplace” in Chicago, for the Polish diaspora, a question was asked: did Grynberg pay for this film himself? On the other hand, the Jews told me, „It’s a shame you didn’t press these peasants, they must have been lying!” But I explained that I had a liking for my characters. I did not want to accuse them. I just wanted to show what terrible choices they had been forced to make.”

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