Generation 2000 and the Transformating Landscape of New Polish Cinema

By Izabela Kalinowska (SUNY, Stony Brook)

© Izabela Kalinowska, 2005

“Here they are,” proclaimed the title of Bożena Janicka’s article published in the monthly journal Kino in November 2002:

They are young; they come from outside the establishment. They are fresh blood. Film viewers interested in the future survival of Polish cinema have been waiting for them for several years, never ceasing to believe that they would appear and trusting that, given the opportunity, they would reinvigorate our cinema. And they finally have appeared. Seven film debuts in competition at the festival in Gdynia, twelve in the festival of independent cinema, an interesting group of films presented at the International Festival of Film Debuts in Koszalin. (11)

By the time Janicka had enthusiastically welcomed the new films, the phenomenon she heralded had already been named. “Generation 2000” started as a cycle of one-hour films made for television. The cycle’s title originated with Sławomir Rogowski, then the head of public television’s production agency. Aware of Polish television’s own tradition of both commissioning and promoting the work of young film directors, as well as of the example set by British television’s role in promoting domestic film production, producers within Polish TV decided to follow suit (Cegiełkówna, interview with Kapuściński, 22). They set out to select a number of film projects conceived mostly by first-time feature filmmakers that would be funded by Polish national television and included in the “Generation” cycle.

Soon after the first two films of the “Generation” series were screened at the Gdynia film festival in 2001, “Generation 2000” gained acceptance as a label embracing much of new Polish cinema. Some critics were quick to point out that the name “Generation” was a bit of a misnomer. “The press refers to them as ‘Generation 2000,’ but in reality there is more that divides than unites them,” wrote Iwona Cegiełkówna in an article entitled “Young Filmmakers: A Disjointed Portrait” (4). Some of the films included in the series were even directed by people born a decade or so apart: Marek Lechki, the director of My City (Moje miasto, 2001) was born in 1975, while Dariusz Gajewski, whose Warsaw (Warszawa, 2003) concluded the television series, was born in 1964. Despite the generational differences between the directors, however, some of the films’ other characteristics supported their being grouped under one label. Critics have pointed to such common factors as their small budgets and that they were often debut films. But the most apparent features that linked these films were their turn towards representing Poland’s contemporary realities and the recurrence of the specific issues addressed in the films. Set in the realities of post-communist Poland, they focused on the lives of people who were often on the verge of entering their adult lives and who had to face the adverse social and economic circumstances of Poland in the “transition”-era. These new Polish films, therefore, provided a platform to speak about—rather than to speak for—the first post-communist generation, about people born in the 1970s and 1980s, who had just begun or were about to begin their mature lives around the year 2000.

Sociological studies indicate that most people belonging to “Generation 2000” in Poland define success by and large in terms of financial success. Contrary to the Catholic tradition and “historically conditioned Polish political correctness,” young people declare that they are only interested in securing an adequately high level of material comfort for themselves (Szpakowska 145). By realistically representing the world of those who have been left behind in the race for financial gain, the “Generation” films speak against the dominant value system that has emerged in post-communist Poland. Contrary to what might be expected, given the rather bleak outlook offered by this cinema on the social landscape of today’s Poland, these films eventually lead their main protagonists to reconciliation with the outside world. Thus, in some cases, the filmmakers’ critical realism does not preclude the protagonists from reasserting their identity in positive terms. Such positive reappraisal of individuality endows the “Generation” films with a quality that had been absent in modern Polish culture, and one that goes beyond a post-modern recycling of modernist tidbits. Although stylistically very diverse, the “Generation” films document a profound cultural shift that occurred in Poland in the last decade. In what follows, I will provide a closer analysis of some of the dominant tendencies that occur within this cinema. In particular, I consider the filmmakers’ relationship to the past, both to post-war Poland’s cultural traditions, including the cinema of the previous decades, and to the material culture of communism. Finally, an analysis of the representation of a crucial socio-cultural nexus, the father-son relationship, leads me to surmise that new Polish cinema reflects a move into a new dimension within Polish culture.

Many films in the “Generation” series rely on the traditions of realist cinema, including Polish cinema of the 1970s and 1980s, and, in particular, the so-called “Cinema of Moral Concern.” Just as their “Moral Concern” predecessors, “Generation” filmmakers are attuned to the social ills of contemporary Poland. A similar type of relationship exists between the films’ aesthetics and their directors’ critical alertness. In her study of 1970s “Cinema of Moral Concern,” Dobrochna Dabert sums up: “Many of the films appeared unrefined in form. Rejecting the temptation of aestheticising the world represented in their films was a natural gesture for the creators of the movement. Such beautifying posed the threat of falsification, and they wanted to avoid that at any cost” (268). Some of the “Generation” directors invoke the stylistics of “Moral Concern” quite deliberately. This is the case with Przemyslaw Wojcieszek’s Louder Than Bombs (Głośniej od bomb, 2001), a compelling portrait of a young small-town car mechanic who tries to resolve his life’s dilemmas following the death of his father and faced with the prospect of losing his girlfriend to emigration. Wojcieszek tells this story in a manner strikingly reminiscent of some of the “Moral Concern” greats: Zanussi, Falk, and Kieslowski. In other cases, especially when it comes to the so-called “off cinema,” the films’ rugged form results from modest budgets and limited technological means. “Off cinema” deserves mention in the context of “Generation 2000” because most of the films classified as “off” deal with the lives of young people in the cities, providing what in my view is best described as a visual version of Polish hip-hop. One of the first and most important films in this category, Grzegorz Lipiec’s That Life Makes Sense (Że życie ma sens, 2000) gives a bleak account of how a gradually developing drug dependency crushes the filmmaking dreams shared by a group of young people from a public housing project. According to the director, the film was shot on video, for a total of one thousand dollars. But the confluence of objectively existing difficulties and artistic choices is here quite apparent. As with the “Cinema of Moral Concern,” film form becomes a tool that helps younger filmmakers interpret the world around them.

Talking about the “Cinema of Moral Concern” Kazimierz Kutz, a renowned Polish filmmaker of the older generation has stated that “personal opposition towards official ideology nourished the cinema of the 1970s and this is how one should interpret not only the social element within it, but also its aesthetics” (quoted in Dabert 38). To the filmmakers of the 1970s and 1980s, and to their audiences, the enemy was clearly identifiable, even though—due to official censorship—they were rarely named. Lost hopes, distorted careers, and the widespread moral corruption of the time comprised the side effects of communism’s monopoly on power. Although not overtly political, the “Cinema of Moral Concern” assumed an activist approach towards the reality that surrounded it. Most “Generation 2000” films differ in this respect from their “Moral Concern” predecessors. New Polish cinema takes notice of the increased social insecurities that characterize the times of systemic transformation. But the filmmakers and their protagonists no longer scramble for social change; they have become passive observers and powerless bystanders. This, for example, is true of the main protagonist of Urszula Urbaniak’s Junction (Torowisko, 1999), a film that could be considered a harbinger of the “Generation” cycle. Maria (Karolina Dryzner), a small-town railway clerk, watches as trains arrive and depart from the junction where she works. She remains a mere observer and does not take any action, even when she witnesses the rape of her flamboyant girlfriend (Ewa Lorska). Lechki’s My City and Malgorzata Szumowska’s A Happy Person (Szczesliwy czlowiek, 2000) likewise feature protagonists who, instead of taking action, are more likely to stand by and watch. The voice-over narrator of Marcin Wrona’s Magnet Man (Czlowiek magnes, 2002) is also an observer. In contrast to “the father” whose story he tells, the “Generation” narrator himself has a passive presence in the picture.

While the sources of the protagonists’ passivity are multifarious, it is important to consider its relationship to the conditions imposed by the outside world. Poland’s post-communist reality lures the “Generation 2000” protagonists with its promises of commercial glamour and financial success. At the same time, they inherit a world that severely constricts their ability to realize their dreams. This is true of the youthful protagonists of Maciej Pieprzyca’s Inferno (2000), Mariusz Front’s Double Portrait (Portret podwójny, 2001), Marek Bukowski’s blok.pl (2001), Robert Glinski’s Hi, Tereska (Cześć, Tereska, 2001), and Gajewski’s Warsaw.

Unlike their cinematic parents, the aspiring filmmakers—Man of Marble (Andrzej Wajda, 1976), Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979)—and the ambitious yet righteous assistant professors—Camouflage (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1977)—from Polish films of the 1970s, the unemployed and underemployed protagonists of “Generation 2000” rarely challenge the world to an uneven battle, even though the odds of emerging victorious from such a struggle may now appear much higher than they were thirty or even twenty years ago. Unlike in the previous epoch, the enemy is not easily identifiable. It is not the system and its functionaries that are to blame for the moral degradation of the world portrayed in the “Generation” films, but the social mechanisms unleashed by the arrival of capitalism, mechanisms that escape easy personification and are often beyond an individual’s control. By giving a voice to those who either refuse to participate or have simply been left behind in the capitalist rat race, new Polish cinema sets itself against a reality ruled by the ruthless dictates of market economy.

The political message of “Moral Concern” films was closely connected with the places selected for the films’ action. Small-town Poland was a favored locale. As Dabert concludes: “The provinces constitute the area of the protagonists’ cinematic failure, the world inhabited by those who have been rejected; it’s an oasis of grimy streets, apartment buildings with paint that is peeling off, and the innate ugliness of the (communist-era) apartment building complexes” (132). Warsaw, the capital city, and the dominant metropolitan center, was often invoked as the place where protagonists’ dreams and ambitions might be realized. But, as Dabert points out: “The capital city is a destructive place, responsible to some extent for the disintegration of an individual human being. Apart from that, it condemns him to loneliness. The center devours and destroys” (132). Warsaw itself, as the seat of the central government and the majority of its administration, was rarely present on the screen. This absence is mostly due to the rules of the game that filmmakers played with government censorship and to the Aesopian language they developed in order to communicate with their audiences: while censors were more likely to stomach a mild criticism of what was going on if it was not represented in the capital, viewers would still understand that the accusing finger was pointed in Warsaw’s direction.

Small-town landscapes enter the world of “Generation 2000” films as well. For example, the drudgery of small town existence sets the tone of Urbaniak’s Junction and Wojcieszek’s Louder Than Bombs. The same dynamic that existed in the “Cinema of Moral Concern” between small-town Poland and the capital city provides the main narrative thread of Gajewski’s Warsaw. The film’s protagonists travel to Warsaw, the place where their dreams may come true, only to experience a bitter disappointment. But the main role in new Polish films is played by a particular type of urban space. High-rise apartment building complexes loom large in films made by the new generation of Polish filmmakers. In order to grasp the significance of this phenomenon, it is important to consider the genesis of this type of architecture.

In the post-World War II period, large segments of society migrated from the countryside to the cities to join the industrial labor force. This population shift was accompanied by the creation of a new type of space. The so-called “osiedle” (settlement)—a modern, Soviet-style apartment building complex—emerged. Independent of place (small town or city), the diegetic space of Polish films made in the 1970s and 1980s was often determined by the contours of a modern apartment building or an apartment building complex. The osiedle—or even more precisely, an individual building block within such a complex, referred to in Polish precisely as a blok (thus, in contemporary parlance osiedle is often referred to as a blokowisko)—became a perfect metaphor in Polish cinema for the bastardized version of modernity imposed on Poland by its communist administrators. If the content of Polish modernity was determined by the conditions of the nation’s stateless existence throughout the nineteenth century, its form (modernization) grew out of the processes that took place in the aftermath of the communist takeover of power. The grim, depersonalized and alienating architecture of the blokowisko, never quite finished due to perennial material shortages and, thus, raw in appearance and universally oppressive, provided more than just a background for Polish realist cinema. The microcosm of the blok came to represent, pars pro toto, communist Poland in general. The best illustration of this phenomenon comes from the ten-part comedy series, Alternative Street Number 4 (Alternatywy 4, 1983), directed by Stanislaw Bareja, a film that today still attracts a cult following in Poland. Krzysztof Kieslowski’s success with audiences outside of Poland rested on his ability to sublimate the blokowisko into a metaphor of the human condition in his Decalogue series (1989). For the filmmakers of the “Generation” films, the blokowisko forms an integral part of the world their protagonists call their own. Their present is firmly rooted in Poland’s communist past.

Joanna Kurczewska formulates a convincing conclusion to her assessment of Polish society’s condition in the years following the collapse of communism. According to her, the factors determining the shape of Polish culture’s transformation in the aftermath of communism’s collapse are located within native culture:

An explanation of the ongoing transformation should not be attributed directly to the influence of disorganized Western capitalism, in its postmodern phase, and not to an emotional leap back to earlier phases of capitalism and its bourgeois culture. The explanation (of these changes) is most likely to be found in the “auto-poetics” of socialist culture, and the dispersion of the cultural project of Marxism-Leninism and socialist humanism within the new social reality. (quoted in Walas, 25)

Many elements of “Generation” cinema seem to corroborate Kurczewska’s interpretation of Polish post-modernity, but the most obvious one is the determining presence of the communist-era blokowisko within the post-communist filmmakers’ scrutiny of present-day Polish society.

Lipiec’s That Life Makes Sense opens with a sequence that foregrounds an apartment building complex. Consecutive shots juxtapose a broader panorama of the complex with the focus on individual buildings. Lipiec transforms a conventional exposition into a statement about the sad and overwhelming environment that his protagonists will come to inhabit. In Dominik Matwiejczyk’s comedy Nosebleed (Krew z nosa, 2004), a film that seems to engage That Life Makes Sense in a polemical way, a young woman (Patrycja Hefczynska) invites the film’s main protagonist Pablo (Bodo Kox) to visit her “favorite place.” She guides the aspiring hip-hop artist to the rooftop of a high-rise apartment building. The vista reveals a landscape filled with the gray rectangles of their blokowisko. In Lipiec’s fatalistic world, the burden of the past that is expressly present within the walls of the blokowisko dooms his young filmmakers to failure. The same fatalism emanates from Bukowski’s blok.pl, a film that is artistically much more sophisticated and mature than the two “off” hits discussed here. In contrast to Lipiec, Matwiejczyk suggests that his protagonists’ acceptance of the blokowisko as their place of origin may help them transform this facet of their identity into an asset. It is quite ironic that this scenario corresponds to the real life story of Lipiec and his filmmaking collective, Sky Piastowskie. The amateur filmmakers were catapulted into the public limelight after their film was accepted into competition at the 2001 Gdynia Film Festival.

Lechki’s My City situates its main protagonist somewhere between Lipiec’s self-destructive junkies and Matwiejczyk’s adventuresome hip-hopper. Lechki’s Gozdzik (Radoslaw Chrzescianski) shares a rare moment of intimacy on a blok’s rooftop with a young woman who lives next door (Agnieszka Banach). The housing complex simultaneously brings the two of them together and annuls whatever plans they might entertain for a future togetherness. Gozdzik calmly accepts the world around him. At the same time, however, there is no question but that this environment provides a hindrance to his life’s fulfillment.

The familiar blokowisko landscape undergoes some significant transformations in films belonging to the “Generation 2000” group. Bukowski’s blok.pl begins with a shot of a crack that appears in a building’s structure. A plaque on the side of the building indicates that there is a geological investigation being carried out to determine the building’s structural stability. The sign warns that the building may collapse and the entire edifice does eventually crumble and collapse. As in other films of the series, pre-modern spaces in blok.pl often encroach on the ever-present and now disintegrating remnants of the communist modernization project. Bukowski locates a bar/restaurant just on the outskirts of the blokowisko. Its owner (Jerzy Lapinski) strongly supports Poland’s accession into the European Union. He appropriates a pro-union poster that entices—“Young Poles, Enter the 21st Century With Us”—and he puts it on display in the restaurant. Surrounded by high grass and scarce trees, the establishment he operates does not have a modern, urban appearance. It is a gathering place for the locals and a site of fairground-like entertainment, where a strong-man displays his muscular body for local spectators. Another character (Pawel Krolikowski), who wholeheartedly embraces the post-communist commoditization of life by repeatedly claiming that “happiness can be bought,” uses the restaurant as a location for his small-time peddling. The restaurant owner’s strong pro-Western sentiments contrast very sharply with the setting and the atmosphere of the establishment. The literally disintegrating blokowisko—its basement converted into a gym for the iron pumping "dresiarze” (often local thugs), the apartments that confine their inhabitants in conditions resembling those of a cage, bungee-jumping operated from a crane, and, finally, the pub/restaurant whose owner wants it to point the way towards Poland’s “bright future”—all add up to create the post-modern environment of post-communist Poland.

      

Lechki’s My City foregrounds the space of a blokowisko as well. And just as in Bukowski’s film, there is a pre-modern intervention into modern space. When Gozdzik looks outside of his window, he sees the decrepit-looking house of his friend Cichy (Andrzej Mastalerz). The house and its surroundings have a strikingly non-urban appearance that contrasts with the sharp outlines of the blok. Cichy spends his days in the garage, trying to repair an old “Warszawa,” one of the two domestic brands of cars manufactured in communist Poland. On the personal plane, this project connects him to his prematurely deceased father. It may also be interpreted as a figure that represents Poland’s imperfect modernization and communism’s lingering presence within Polish post-modernity. Gozdzik’s father (Krzysztof Stroinski), a former industrial worker, currently unemployed, occupies himself mostly with trying to catch fish in a body of water that, again, appears to be situated on the immediate outskirts of the blokowisko. The pond looks like a chemical waste deposit, yet, when Gozdzik’s uncle comes to visit, the entire family celebrates this reunion by gathering around a bonfire, on the shore of the pond. The family’s retreat from the modern space of the blokowisko becomes complete at the film’s end, when they vacate their apartment in order to move back to the countryside.

The destabilization and the looming disintegration of the world’s physical substance that is very much apparent in blok.pl, My City, and in other new Polish films, mirrors the processes that have affected human relationships. This is most evident in the disintegration of the basic social unit, the family. Contrary to the prediction of Communism’s founding ideologues, the family did not wither away under communism. Instead, it often preserved some of its pre-modern characteristics, such as multi-generational co-habitation and the division of labor along gender lines.

In blok.pl a flamboyant hairdresser (Sylwia Bojarska) comes back home to her happy family. She greets them from the door. She announces that she has brought treats for the kids and she shares the latest gossip with her husband. The reason for the family’s odd and persistent silence becomes obvious when the husband quite literally pops during a lovemaking scene. It turns out that the entire family consists of inflated plastic figures. In the same film, the restaurant owner plays the good father when his daughter, who is a postal worker and a hopeless junkie, gets married. He presents the newlyweds with an envelope stuffed with bank notes and with keys to their own apartment. Later on, in the course of the wedding reception, the father confesses that his own wife has not spoken to him in fifteen years. While the processes of social alienation and familial discord were often the subject of Polish films made in the 1970s and 1980s, the corrosion of the social fabric as presented in some of the new Polish films, goes much further. There is a rapist on the loose in blok.pl: someone has been raping, killing, and dismembering young girls, and the police are looking for the suspect. Any one of the unemployed, iron-pumping young men who meet in the blok’s basement could fit the profile of the portrait circulated by the police. Yet, in the end the viewer is led to believe that the “politically progressive” pater familiae, the good-natured restaurant owner, may be responsible for the gruesome crimes.

In My City, the family’s fragile existence receives a serious blow when someone breaks into the apartment and robs Gozdzik’s mother (Dorota Pomykala) of all of her savings. Gozdzik, a fit hockey player catches up with the robber. The thief’s identity completely undermines the generally accepted value system; the robber turns out to be the jolly uncle (Jerzy Lapinski). In a manner that is characteristic of the way Lechki’s protagonist deals with reality, Gozdzik lets him go. If revealed to his parents, the news might obliterate what little remains of the ties that still keep the family together. The uncle eventually returns to confess his crime, but the damage has already been done. In My City and elsewhere families disintegrate, just as the apartment buildings in which they live. Even those family relationships that could be described as caring have pathological undertones. Such, for example, is the mother-child relationship in Artur Urbanski’s Bellissima (2000) and in Szumowska’s Happy Person. In blok.pl, Glinski’s Hi, Tereska, in Magdalena Piekorz’s The Welts (Pregi, 2004), and elsewhere, the pathological character of family relationship becomes very apparent.

The socio-cultural landscape of post-Communist Poland, as reflected in the “Generation” films, contains some interesting, new elements. Never before has Polish cinema seen so many father figures. The post-modern and post-communist questioning of patriarchy often reveals its problem-ridden character. blok.pl culminates with the celebration of Ewa (Ewa Bukowska) and Marek’s (Grzegorz Artman) wedding. As in Wyspianski’s play The Wedding, and then in Wajda’s film adaptation of the play, Bukowski uses the occasion of the wedding banquet to unleash the ghosts of the past. The groom’s father plays the role of such a specter. The father first approaches Ewa, Marek’s wife. She reacts with surprise, since she had assumed that he was dead. “Who is this guy,” asks Ewa. “He’s a fuckin’ secret policeman [ubek]. He’s pretending to be my father, who had been murdered by the secret police. Their successors want to murder me because I am the son of the father who risked his life for this country and did not get shit in return,” screams Marek. Whatever the father’s true identity, it is obvious that it has been burdensome for the son. If we consider the peculiarities of Ewa’s own father, the whole institution of patriarchy comes under suspicion. Such an interrogation of fatherhood is a sign of a changing cultural paradigm. The symbolic order determined by the Romantic mythos that prevailed in post-World War II Polish culture until the collapse of communism placed the source of all evil on the side of foreign aggressors. Parenthood coalesced in the figure of the suffering mother. Films such as blok.pl and, more recently, The Welts, directed by Magdalena Piekorz, open the way towards a serious re-evaluation of the cultural traditions of Polish modernity by problematizing patriarchy.

     

In Piekorz’s The Welts, the father (Jan Frycz), who may appear to the outside world to be a defender of the social and national traditions from which the communists tried to get away, is in fact a sadist who takes pleasure in lashing his son. The conflict between father and son lacks some of the elements of the classical Freudian paradigm. Neither the boy (Waclaw Adamczyk), nor the grown man (Michal Zebrowski) who revisits his childhood in a series of flashbacks ever mentions the mother. Without any maternal presence, the violence directed towards the child lacks its usual Oedipal motivation. This allows the filmmaker to direct the butt of her criticism against the mechanisms of cultural transmission along the father-son axis. The father’s affiliation with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church augments this aspect of the problem. Despite the hatred he feels towards the father, the grown son mimics the father’s behavior. Thus, the persistence of violence stems from the patriarchal family and the complex web of cultural traditions transmitted by the family and not from an intervention by the outside world. In blok.pl and in The Welts, the post-modern and, specifically, post-communist focus on the fathers provides a measure of the destabilization of the self. Surprisingly, in The Welts and in other “Generation” films, the protagonists reassert their identity in positive terms at the end.

Wrona’s very personal and artistically very accomplished short film Magnet Man focuses entirely on the story of the father (Zdzislaw Wardejn), narrated by the son’s voice-over. Convinced of the special role he has been assigned to fulfill in the world, the father pronounces himself to be a miracle-maker. He claims to possess magnetic energy and the ability to heal the sick. These special gifts manifest themselves most readily in the presence of women other than his own wife. As a consequence, the wife kicks him out of the apartment they share. The “Generation” narrator of Wrona’s film does not assume an accusatory tone vis-à-vis the father. By retelling the father’s story, the narrator rids himself of the burden of problematic fatherhood. The film serves as a talking cure. “In the end,” asserts the narrator, “I reconciled with my father.” “Here am I, and here is my father,” says the voice over the footage of the smiling filmmaker himself and his real-life father. There are signs of a similar reconciliation in My City. Gozdzik is not angry with his inept father, but rather he feels sorry for him. He even plants a fish in the pond, so that his father may finally prove himself by catching it. Just like Gozdzik, the twenty-something year old protagonist of Wojcieszek’s Louder Than Bombs could go through life blaming his recently deceased father for his own life’s limited choices. And like Gozdzik, Marcin (Rafal Mackowiak) chooses not to do so. His girlfriend’s parents rejoice at the news of an invitation their daughter receives to immigrate to America. Marcin does not even consider the possibility of staging a similar escape from the world that confines him to the existence of a small-town car mechanic. “You have to understand this,” pleads Marcin with his girlfriend (Sylwia Juszczak). “I know that this is a shitty place, but it is my own. I have to give it a try and see if it is possible to live here. I will bury my father, clean up, and start anew.” The voice-over narrators of My City and Magnet Man bring about a similar reassertion of individual identity. This reconstituted identity appears different and radically new in the context of Polish culture. The culture that has traditionally nurtured the wounds of the past allows, in its post-modern variation, for reconciliation.

Tadeusz Sobolewski, one of the foremost Polish film critics, very astutely points out that “These films reveal a twofold tendency. On the one hand, their authors want to hit the bottom, to show a world that is in the state of disintegration. But—at the same time—they manage, in an act of defiance, to say ‘Yes.’ They do not want to be angry at reality forever. Besides, it is not clear to whom they should address their complaints” (16).

In summing up, being rooted in the real space of post-communist Poland makes new Polish cinema both an interesting phenomenon and a valuable source of insight into transition-era Poland. The films I have discussed here survey the socio-cultural dislocations caused by both communism and the crude capitalism of the post-communist era. Their artistic vision is in part shaped by a renewed interest in native cultural traditions, including Polish cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. Often produced on shoestring budgets and artistically uneven, they offer a new and an authentic voice in Polish cinema, and in Polish culture in general.

Izabela Kalinowska (State University of New York, Stony Brook)


Works Cited
Cegiełkówna. Iwona. “Czas na zmianę warty. Rozmowa z Jerzym Kapuścińskim.” Kino 11 (2002): 22.
―. “Młodzi filmowcy: portret niespójny.” Kino 2 (2002): 4-8.
Dabert, Dobrochna. Kino moralnego niepokoju. Wokół wybranych problemów poetyki i etyki. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 2003.
Janicka, Bożena. “Juź są!” Kino 11 (2002): 11.
Sobolewski, Tadeusz. „Własne życie.“ Gazeta Wyborcza (October 14, 2002): 16.
Szpakowska, Małgorzata. Chcieć i mieć. Samowiedza obyczajowa w Polsce czasu przemian. Warszawa; Wydawnictwo W.A.B., 2003.
Walas, Teresa. Zrozumieć swój czas. Kraków; Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2003.

© Izabela Kalinowska, 2005

Updated: 16 Dec 05