Andrzej Wajda's next project to feature Katyn Massacre


The Polish Institute in Bratislava is hosting an exhibition of drawings by Polish film director Andrzej Wajda. The exhibition is an accompanying event of the 12th Febiofest film festival, which is currently underway in Slovakia and has just come to an end in the Czech Republic. The world cinema icon's Japanese-like dreamy pictures offer the perfect time out for Slovak film buffs like us. We met up with Mr Wajda at the institute.

"At the moment I'm working on a script for a film about the Katyn tragedy."

Although the Febiofest film festival presented the retrospective selection of the most famous films by Andrzej Wajda, the director was asked about the future.

"The Katyn tragedy has never been made into a film in Poland. However, it wasn't only because this topic was taboo, banned by censorship, but also because it is difficult to find an appropriate artistic form in which to bring this sensitive issue on to the screen."

Among the officers who were killed in Katyn and two other military camps was also the father of Andrzej Wajda. According to the famous director, the real heroin of the tragedy though was his mother.

"I want to have the same heroin in the film. I have been thinking about filming this topic for a long time. Of course, the massacre of soldiers in Katyn is dreadful but the annihilation of those who knew about the truth is also very tragic."

Slovak doctor and poet Andrej Zarnov was one of the few doctors operating in Katyn who succeeded in escaping the Stalinist stalkers. As a pathologist he took part in an investigation of the tragedy. Zarnov supported the fact that the Soviets did the killing in news paper articles. Thanks to these articles he started to be persecuted especially after WWII when Czechoslovakia came under the zone of Soviet influence. The story of Slovak doctor Andrej Zarnov was turned into a drama played in the Trnava theatre, west Slovakia.

"Only a short while ago I was told that it is also possible to see a video recording of the play. I will have a look at it as well as at the text itself. Then I'll see what I'll do next."

Andrzej Wajda is a representative of Polish cinematography shot under communist censorship. The oppression gave rise to other significant film icons of European film such as Czech director Vera Chytilova or Hungarian Marta Meszaros. The "new wave" hit also the Polish film guru:

"At the time of martial law in Poland, we were trying hard to get Vera Chytilova to come to Poland. We wanted to make a Czechoslovak Polish film together. But we weren't successful. The martial law broke the efforts to shoot a common film."

For a short time Wajda was a teacher at the Lodz film school. One of his students was once preparing a film etude. They agreed on everything, explained what to do and Wajda went away to do his own film.

"I returned, looked at the film and couldn't recognise a thing we agreed upon before I had left. I was wondering if there was anybody else teaching those students at the school apart from me. They assured me there was no other teacher but screening of the film Love of one Blondie by Milos Forman. And I say that that was the end of the Polish film school."

Milos Forman as well as Andrzej Wajda are the only two representatives of the "new wave" in the cinema of the former eastern block countries awarded with Oscars. While the Czech director had to wait for appreciation by the American film academy until his Amadeus was made in the USA, Andrzej Wajda was awarded an Oscar for his life achievement to the world of cinematography. That happened back in 2000.