Stalinist atrocity in Polish Sibiriad
by Dorota Hartwich
28/01/2011 - A historical testimony vital for Poland, Janusz Zaorski’s Polish Sibiriad (Syberiada Polska) has just entered its second leg of shooting. Described by the director of The Three Doctor and The Mother of Kings as the most important film of his career, it stars Pawel Krucz, Marcin Walewski, Adam Woronowicz, Urszula Grabowska, Sonia Bohosiewicz and Jan Peszek.
Adapted from Zbigniew Domino’s famous same-named novel, Polish Sibiriad is a complex production for the shoot, scheduled over 45 days, must take place during the four seasons of the year, in different Polish landscapes (including vast scenery) and the wild regions of Siberia.
Like Andrzej Wajda in Katyn [trailer, film focus], Zaorski will tackle one of the most horrendous aspects of Stalinism by showing the atrocities of the gulags and the fate of Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish people who were deported in mass numbers to Siberia during the Second World War. And like Wajda, who looked at the tragedy from a personal angle (that of the women close to the officers murdered by the Soviets), Zaorski has chosen to tell the story through the character of a teenage boy (Pawel Krucz) and the life of inhabitants in a small eastern Polish village who are faced with extremely difficult times.
According to its screenwriters Michal Komar and Maciej Dutkiewicz, "it’s the story of the system’s incredible cruelty and the suffering this causes to individuals, including a Polish schoolteacher, a Jewish girl and a Ukrainian mother whose child freezes to death. But it’s also a tale showing both how love and friendship are born, and how the bad brings out the best in human beings."
Polish Sibiriad is produced by Satchwell Warszawa for €2.3m. This budget includes co-production support from ATM Grupa, Ekoland, Heliograf, Hero Collection and PAY Studio, as well as €1.25m in backing from the Polish Film Institute. The film is due to premiere in winter 2012.
(Translated from French)