Przeostrzenia. Polish Cinema in the Face of Political Transformations 1945 and 1989

Sylwia Borowska-Kazimiruk's picture

The Faculty of Polish Philology and the Institute of Polish Culture of the University of Warsaw have the pleasure of inviting you to the conference "Przeostrzenia. Polish Cinema in the Face of Political Transformations 1945 and 1989".

We would like to invite researchers interested in film representations of both these watershed moments or ‘breakthroughs’. We welcome contributions from various scientific disciplines, including film, cultural and literary studies, art history, history and visual culture studies.

The political transformations that followed the end of the Second World War and the ultimately resulting changes of 1989 form one of the most intensively discussed problems in contemporary Polish humanities. Research focused on each individual transformation aims to reconstruct and characterize the historical processes that gave rise to the present socio-political situation in Poland. The act of returning to historical moments, in which there was a dramatic re-evaluation of the existing system of political forces and the launch of a new historical logic, is a necessary element of the diagnosis of the contemporary image of the national community, and conversely, the dynamics of current changes determine the way in which phases of transformation are reconstructed and evaluated. Research practice so far has usually focused on one of the selected political turning point. In the area of film studies, this was primarily the events of 1989, as evidenced by numerous important publications from recent years, including Cinema — Post-Communism — Politics. Film in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the face of the processes of political transformation and the consequences of 1989, edited by Marta Brzezińska-Pająk (2018) or Michał Piepiórka's Rockefellers and Marx on Warsaw. Polish feature films about economic transformation (2019). However, there has been no attempt to grasp more comprehensively the mechanisms of transformation in Polish history of the last century, especially from the perspective of Polish cinema.

Therefore, we propose that the conference should look at both periods in parallel. The juxtaposition of two moments of political upheaval will promote consideration of the Polish history of the 20th century, considering not only the immediate effects, but also the longer-term social, political and cultural narratives. These have been reflected both in selected Polish film productions and in the organisation of the country’s film industry, as well as in the expectations of (local and international) audiences. The aim is to interrogate the issues (identity, political, historical) that Polish filmmakers had to confront, and more specifically, the elements incorporated into Polish films that today reflect the periods of upheaval and continuity that characterize the complicated genealogy of the Third Republic.

The following areas of particular interest:
1. Revision of existing methodologies, narratives and tendencies in research on Polish film after 1945 and 1989, with particular emphasis on the problematic nature of establishing historical inflection points. To what extent is the rhetoric of the breakthrough a handy starting point for the analysis of selected political transformations, and to what extent does it obscure their less obvious dimensions?
2. The long duration of the interwar period in Polish film after 1945 and the shadow cast by the People's Republic of Poland over cinema after 1989.
3. Heroes and heroines of Polish film. What attitudes and personal patterns did cinema promote towards the breakthroughs of 1945 and 1989? Whose fate did it tell, whose did it deny or falsify?
4. Film form: transformations of film language, genre structures and acting in Polish cinema after 1945 and 1989.
5. The impact of the transformation on the film market in Poland (in comparison with other Central and Eastern European countries): production system, employment structure, festival market, social practices of film distribution and reception.
5. Film criticism and film studies. To what extent did the reviewer's practice reflect the competing political narratives of the time? To what extent did social and political circumstances determine the practices of film criticism and research?
6. Polish cinema of ‘breakthroughs’ in comparison to other cinemas of Central and Eastern Europe.
7. Polish film in relation to other arts: differences in making socio-political commentary or presenting post-transformation phenomena.

Participation in the conference is free of charge. Abstracts (in Polish or English, no longer than 2,000 characters with spaces) should be sent to przeostrzenia@gmail.com by February 8, 2020.

The conference will be held on 26-27 March 2020 at the Institute of Polish Culture of the University of Warsaw. The organizers do not cover travel and accommodation costs.

Organisers:
mgr Sylwia Borowska-Kazimiruk (ILP UW)
dr Paulina Kwiatkowska (IKP UW)
dr Agata Zborowska (IKP UW)

The Academic Council of the Conference:
dr Marta Brzezińska-Pająk (KSI UW)
dr hab. Justyna Jaworska (IKP UW)
dr hab. Iwona Kurz (IKP UW)
prof. dr hab. Ewa Paczoska (ILP UW)