When Politics Tipped the Scales: Locating Polish Documentary Films from the 1940s

Misiak, Anna (2018) When Politics Tipped the Scales: Locating Polish Documentary Films from the 1940s. Historical Journal of Film, Radio & Television, 10.1080/01439685.2017.1414998. ISSN 1465-3451

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2017.1414998

Abstract / Summary

This article introduces the reader to the 1940s history of the documentary film in post-war Poland when the tense relationship between the Communist government and the small community of documentarians determined the contents of factual cinema. The author argues that the formal and thematic choices made by the 1940s filmmakers fuelled the future growth of the Polish School of Documentary. Despite of repressive censorship and close political scrutiny, the 1940s directors produced numerous subjective film visions of the social reality around them. Some worked in line with the political propaganda; others capitalised on the available margins of creative freedom; however small the latter might appear from today’s perspective.
Not only do the discussed films testify to an unprecedented early proliferation of authorial creativity among Polish documentary filmmakers, but they also form social and political chronicles of their time, a potentially valuable material for the history of everyday life under Communism. As micro-historical film records, they can complement the conventional macro-historical approaches, which with only some exceptions, tend to dominate the Western studies of the world once hidden behind the Iron Curtain.
This archive-based work aims at encouraging further research. The only copies of some of the examined titles are available at the National Film Archive in Warsaw. A few lesser known among them have not yet attracted international attention. Almost thirty years after the collapse of the Communist regime, it is the first time some of these films get a mention in the English language.

Item Type: Article
ISSN: 1465-3451
Subjects: Film & TV
Film & TV > Film > International Film
History > International
Depositing User: Anna Misiak
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 10:13
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2019 00:38
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/2768


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