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The first thing that dawned on me at PlayPoland Film festival ’12 was that I probably should have paid more attention in history lessons. Nonetheless I can safely say I walked out of the studio at the Ikon gallery eager to learn more.

The largest mobile film event in Britain, the festival aims to present and promote contemporary Polish cinema to audiences that would otherwise have no opportunity to experience Polish film. During an ongoing four-month festival, viewers have the opportunity to watch the latest full and short Polish film productions, meet filmmakers and producers, and take part in exhibitions and concerts. As a media practitioner I was curious as to the differences in British and Polish culture and how this would be reflected in their films.

    Love your enemies

‘Zamach’ or ‘assassinate in English is a largely experimental short film by artist Yael Bartana which brings back into light the demons that history has left behind. It questions the readiness of polish jewish relations associated with the polish renaissance in an engaging curiously realistic and thought-provoking way whilst questioning societies readiness to accept the ‘other’. It deals with the difficulties of cultural integration in an unstable world full of political warfare through the utilising of  heartfelt and powerful speeches , set in the near future, during the funeral ceremonies of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland leader, who has died from the hands of an unknown assassin. The leader’s death becomes the symbolic founding myth of a new movement, which leaves the audience to think about a possible make-believe political proposition to be implemented in the nearest future in Poland, somewhere else in Europe, or in the Middle East and the effects that it would have.

Controversially directed by the first ever foreign artist to represent Poland , Bartana has created a trilogy all offering an insight into the countries culture whilst calling for the ‘return’ of three million Jews to the land of their forefathers.. The film itself is overtly political and patriotic with blatant colour schemes of Red white and black costuming and colour rendering by Ido Kavilla. This combined with the moving speeches of the political speakers makes for a very powerful short film. A particularly moving scene involves angelic children singing the emotional ‘The planted heart’ by Hatikva through theirs fear and symbiotically in unison. The children of the future aware of the importance of the event on their people. You can’t help but feel moved by the contagious mass emotion that projects from the crowds of mourners and in the voices of powerful people.

All walks of life together

For a short film Zamach is effective in creating empathy. A widowed Stowek weeps next to her lovers open coffin as grandeur crowds of people pay their respects, you feel like you are in the crowd yourself mourning for this remarkable mans death , the subsequent death of stability and it makes you care about something you probably have never thought seriously about before.

The feeling of unison and passion is well established from the whole mise-en-scene and you can leave the room uplifted and twice as lighter. People stand in pure white masks where the colour of their face is insignificant in their quest for harmony. This idea of developing a multiethnic community where there is complete harmony is one that has been dealt with for many centuries through film however I felt this interpretation by Bartana to be genuinely motivational. If I had not seen this film I would have actually had no idea that this was still a current problem in Poland and I would not have felt moved to care but as a result of Zamach I do. Intense.


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