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  National
Director Andrzej Fidyk's rare film review
Polish Film Shot in N. Korea to Be Shown
Polish Embassy Presents Several Documentary Films
By Anna Izabella Paradowska
Personality cult of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung

The Polish Embassy in Seoul cordially invites you to the inauguration of The Polish Documentary Film Review. The first meeting will take place at the Polish Embassy May 19 (Thursday), 2005 at 7:30 p.m. The embassy is located opposite to Gyongbokkung and next to Hyundai Gallery and Kumho Museum of Art.

The first movie to be presented is "Parade" directed by Andrzej Fidyk.

"Parade" was shot in North Korea in 1989, when Kim Il-Sung, the Communist dictator, was still alive. In a fascinating way the film registers the showy ceremonial of totalitarianism, yet with a dispassionate objectivism of an impartial observer.

Therefore, it is the viewer who decides on the interpretation of the film; it may be regarded as mockery at the system or it may just as well be treated as propaganda.

In fact, this was how the film was received in Poland: it provoked bursts of hearty laughter; the West treated it as a frightening warning while the North Koreans watched the film with due reverence and failed to notice the inherent derision of the film.

Director Andrzej Fidyk
This film was appreciated by critics all over the world and has won many prizes. Moreover, many critics, viewers and historians regard this film as the best documentary on North Korea.

Throughout the 1990s Fidyk traveled around the world in search of new topics to take up. He found some in Iran — Staszek's Dream in Teheran (1992); in Russia Russian Striptease (1993); in Brazil Carnival — The Beggest Party in the World (1995); in India Mobile Cinema of Dreams (1998).

In each and every film Fidyk attempted at providing a synthesis of phenomena presented, sometimes it was a cognitive synthesis, in other cases — a poetical one. The movie will be shown in English.

Since this will be the first presentation, the meeting will be attended by the Polish Ambassador to Seoul Tadeusz Chomicki.

Tea, coffee, and snacks will be served. Since the number of seats is limited it is strongly advised to register your attendance by e-mail at: a.dabrowska@polandseoul.org or fax: (02) 723 96 80, which will guarantee you a seating place.

Everyone is invited to come and join the film review.

Our first meeting opens a series of Polish Documentary Film Presentations which will be held regularly starting on May 19, 2005 through June 16. Every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. we will present another film directed by Andrzej Fidyk.

A Suazi wedding

Below please find a tentative program of the review:

1. May 19, 2005 — "Parade"
2. May 26, 2005 — "Mobile Cinema of Dreams"
3. June 2, 2005 — "Reed Dance"
4. June 9, 2005 — "Staszek's Dream in Teheran"
5. June 16, 2005 — "Parade" (*): Presentation will be attended by the director A. Fidyk.
6. June 23, 2005 — "Russian Striptease"(*)

(*): it is planned that the second presentation of "Parade" will be attended by the director Andrzej Fidyk, therefore the date of the presentation may be changed to June 23, 2005 depending on the director's final schedule in Korea.

For further information you can contact Ms. Anna Paradowska at her Email (a.paradowska@polandseoul.org) in Korean or English. Contact can also be made with Ms. Agnieszka Dabrowska at Email (a.dabrowska@polandseoul.org) in English or Polish. Or you can check our website www.polandseoul.org where you can also find a map with Embassy location.

Andrzej Fidyk and Documemtary Film in Poland

An African tribe performing a reed dance. Fidyk's film "Reed Dance" was shot in Suazi, a mall African country.

Throughout the entire post-war period, documentary film has played a significant role in Polish culture. Nevertheless, the concept of a documentary serving, first and foremost, the purpose of educating people and helping a potential viewer learn his way around the world was never fully accepted in Poland.

Certainly, several dozen of films were made in the Polish Educational Film Studio promoting the knowledge of many different fields - from physics to contemporary painting; these films were later shown in schools or culture clubs.

Yet, a documentary film is just another story: while, by definition, it was designed to record the reality, it also remained a domain of the Arts. Producers searched for such a manner of presentation of a selected fragment of the world that would turn the film into an artistic expression.

Displaying the image of the real world, the most valuable of these documentaries sometimes "smuggled" opposition contents so unwelcome by the communist authority (after World War II Poland formed part of the communist block). In extreme situations the authorities banned the distribution of documentaries which presented the shortcomings and the evils of socialism.

One of the leading documentary makers who exerted a profound influence on Polish documentaries of the 1990's is Andrzej Fidyk.

Fidyk's School

This trend of contemporary documentary film focuses its attention on contemporary times, and the present changes in customs and morals. For the Fidyk's school, however, everyday life is less interesting. From Fidyk's point of view a documentary should, in the first place, be a delightful show capable of competing with great Hollywood productions in terms of popularity.

An Iranian woman is holding a photo of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. Andrzej Fidyk's 1993 film "Staszek's Dream in Teheran" garnered an award.

The prevailing majority of today's viewers have become bored with fictitious stories; they are thrilled by observing real events that take place before their eyes. The author's opinion is of less importance; what counts here is the choice he has made with regards to the subject to be taken up and his narrative competence, well aware of the habits of the contemporary audience.

Fidyks's Defilada/Parade

Shot in North Korea in 1989, when Kim Ir Sen (Kim Il-Sung) — the Communist dictator was still alive — the film may be considered as an exemplary film of that trend. In a fascinating way the film registers the showy ceremonial of totalitarianism, yet with a dispassionate objectivism of an impartial observer. Therefore, it is the viewer who decides on the interpretation of the film; it may be regarded as mockery at the system or it may just as well be treated as propaganda.

In fact, this was how the film was received in Poland: it provoked bursts of hearty laughter, the West treated it as a frightening warning while the Koreans watched the film with due reverence and failed to notice the inherent derision of the film. Throughout the 90s Fidyk traveled around the world in search of new topics to take up. He found some in Iran — Sen Staszka O Theheranie /Staszek's Dream in Teheran (1992); in Russia Rosyjski Striptease / Russian Striptease (1993); in Brazil Carnaval — Najwieksze Party Na Swiecie / Carnival — The Beggest Party in the World (1995); in India Kiniarze Z Kalkuty / Mobile Cinema of Dreams (1998).

In each and every film Fidyk attempted at providing a synthesis of phenomena presented, sometimes it was a cognitive synthesis, in other cases — a poetical one.

Mobile Cinema of Dream (1998)

Kiniarze z Kalkuty, 1998

The film shows us India — the biggest movie producer in the world — through the experiences of an owner of a mobile cinema.

Disabled Mama, after 30 years of work in a beauty saloon, joined Mr. Battu's mobile cinema business. He is 80 years old and he is certain that after his death the mobile cinema will die out, killed by the television. Mr. Battu does not agree with his colleague. He is convinced that in India mobile cinema will live for ever, because millions of people living in poor villages love movies but cannot afford a TV set and they can walk for miles just to see a movie.

Young Annit, a helper, does not have any opinions. He quietly does what he is asked to do. He does not get involved into the struggle of Mr. Battu and Mama who disagree on everything. They are like water and fire. Mr. Battu, who is a quiet and reserved abstainer, cannot stand the behavior of Mama — a tiny, toothless oldman who immediately spends his money and enjoys an occasional drink.

A scene of Mobile Cinema of Dream


Mr. Battu from Calcutta is an owner of a mobile cinema, one of 200 mobile cinemas in India, that show mostly Indian productions. He earns his living and, at the same time, he fulfills his mission. He is convinced that a movie can change people's lives and make children smarter. The other reason for his traveling all around India is finding his wife who has been kidnapped some time ago and he has not heard of her ever since.

Staszek's Dream in Teheran (1993)

It is a film that got many prizes (3 prizes In Nyon). The film is about the Polish TV crew that is invited to Iran for celebration of 3rd anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death. The crew flies to Teheran full of hope and planning to make a good film. But it is not so easy. The only help is the dream. They find the solution to the problems in dreams.

Reed Dance (2000) — Taniec Trzcin

A Suazi (Swaji) woman is holding her baby. Suazi is where Andrzej Fidyk's film "Reed Dance" was shot.
This film is a reportage from Suazi, small African country, where every second citizen is HIV positive. It is a fascinating film, that shows life and problems of Suazi through the celebration called Reed Dance. Reed Dance is hundreds years old tradition and its aim is to choose a new wife for the King. King's brother, an ambassador of Suazi to Denmark, denies those allegations.

But in Suazi everybody knows what the celebration is for. It is a chance for young girls to enter the court. 17 years old Hlobsile hopes that she will be a lucky one this time. She loves the king because he has built a sweet factory and he is taking good care of all his citizens. Kaue Mamba is chief of PR for the king. The programs he makes about the king are shocking for us but, obviously, the citizens believe in them and love the king even more.

Fidyk's film shows us beautiful, peaceful people, who are happy and who enjoy life. There are many interviews with court officials, the King, children, the shaman, etc. There are many heroes who talk about their life but do not talk about problems. AIDS is not talked about. Only the last scene shows us what the real concern of the film.

Russian Striptease(1993)

This movie offers a perceptive, non-exploitative look at the explosion of sex and erotica that swept through Russia after the fall of communism. It's seen largely through a strip-tease school run by a former communist censor, where they teach women to "regard their bodies as an art form." It skillfully makes the point that any government that tries to regulate sexual expression is bound to failure. Contains some nudity and kinky sex scenes.

The above article was contributed to The Seoul Times by Miss Anna Izabella Paradowska, Ph.D. The multi-lingual Polish professional received her Ph.D. in linguistics from the prestigious Seoul National University. She works at Embassy of the Republic of Poland, 70, Sagan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Tel: (82-2) 723-9681 Ext. 109, Fax: (82-2) 723-9680,




 

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