Polish Shorts 2009

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In this poetic film, Linn Karen Foerland depicts the inner world of an old woman – a resident of a nursing home. There are plenty of surprising associations, surreal pictures and saturated fairyland colours. Before us appears the rapturous scene of an old woman at the end of her life. There are angelic little girls, flowery meadows, pink balloons, troubadour violinists, and shameless baths in popcorn. Old age and childhood meet in a magic circle forming a symbolic unity. However, these idyllic pictures are repeatedly juxtaposed with the reality of life at the home for the aged: with its gaping empty corridors, perfunctory nursing care and lonely life in seclusion.
Smuggled across borders, cheated by immoral intermediaries, trailed by police, at the mercy of foreigners – such is the fate of illegal immigrants from Vietnam who try to settle in Poland. Among them is young Mai Anh, whose boyfriend now works at a bazaar in Warsaw. Their meeting in a foreign country will not transpire as they had imagined. This film debut leaves no doubts as to the fate of refugees: in their new lives in the ‘promised land’ they are constantly hounded and frequently need to deny their identity. In the struggle for survival under these new circumstances, such values as solidarity, friendship and love will not prevail. The film’s creators present this phenomenon from a very intimate perspective, without resorting to predictable narrative methods or simple generalisations in their evaluation of the protagonists.
It has been 43 years since Krzysztof Kieślowski directed his documentary film The Offce, depicting the work of the Civil Registry Office. Tomasz Wolski attempts to take a closer look at a similar institution but from a different perspective. He is not interested in the work of the stiff bureaucratic machinery, which in Kieślowski’s film was a subtle metaphor for the totalitarian system. The young director instead inspects the formalities and rituals to see in them a humanistic dimension. There are heaps of applicants coming to the local office in the Krakow district of Nowa Huta. They are of different ages and all come to register the most important moments of their lives: births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Wolski records this procession of life and death with warmth and humour, and also with a philosophical meditation over the vicissitudes of human destiny.