Polish Documentary School


Chișinău (30 May – 4 June 2013)

Participants: Victoria Dunaeva, Mirosław Dembiński, Rafał Listopad and Mateusz Werner.

We went straight from the aeroplane to the discussion with students from the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts. A group of around twenty-five students from various degree courses and a few lecturers were waiting for us in a small room with windows darkened using blankets. After being welcomed by the dean Mirosław Dembiński presented the idea of the project “The World from Dawn to Dusk”, going right back to its beginnings, when he and Maciej Drygas began running documentary classes for students at the Łódź Film School titled “Łódź from Dawn to Dusk”. Then Mateusz Werner talked about carrying out the project in 2011, which took place in the capitals of five countries, and Rafał Listopad shared his experiences of being a tutor in Tokyo. A discussion took place after a screening of the film “Moscow from Dawn to Dusk”. The audience were surprised by how closely the film portrait of the Russian capital adhered to the project’s concept. There were questions about the choice of topics, the organisation of the filming locations, the types of film equipment, and the selection of footage during editing. Most of the people present at the meeting declared their interest in taking part in the project.
For the following two days we were the guests of the Department of Journalism at the Moldova State University. Taking part were around a dozen students from various degree courses, occasionally as unrelated to film as computer studies and law. However, it turned out that in Chișinău there’s a large and active community of amateur film makers, who make experimental films, video clips and short films, but not documentary films. Our project would be the chance for them to gain new experience. Over the course of four meetings we showed films made by our tutors. A discussion about the Polish school of documentary filmmaking and the observation method it developed was an additional part of the presentation of our plans in Chișinău.

On the following day we screened all five films from “The World from Dawn to Dusk” for the attendees at Cronograf International Documentary Film Festival, Moldova’s most important film event. Among the guests were mainly young film fans and film students, participants at the festival who were also interested in taking part in the project. After the screening there was a lively discussion, the most important topic of which were the differences and similarities between the various films. Why were scenes from the lives of wealthy people missing? Why were all the characters in Kiev gathered on one boat? How did the filmmakers cope in certain cases with self-censorship and fear of authoritarian governments? Those were some of the questions asked during the discussion.
Our last stop in Chișinău was Moldova Slavic University, where after presenting the project we showed films by masters of the Polish documentary film: Kazimierz Karabasz and Krzysztof Kieślowski, and also films by our tutors’ students. The most popular were the films made by students, following which a lively discussion sprang up.