Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“The Wall”: Kasia Smutniak’s moving film goes on tour around Poland

“The Wall” is a moving documentary about the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border Kasia Smutniak he also talks in the context of his personal and family experiences. The actress became interested in this topic at the very beginning, in August 2021. In November of the same year, together with activists from Poland and Italy, she shot a reportage for the Italian program Propaganda Live, which had a great impact in Italy. In November, Smutniak received an award for directing at the international festival in Terni, dedicated to dialogue between nations and religions.

“From the beginning, it has been an unusual project. We decided to do something completely different. The film was not released in cinemas in a traditional way, because the life of documentaries in cinemas is very short. In order to reach a wider group and meet viewers, I have been traveling around Italy for three weeks. We are making screenings in cinemas, debates” – she said before the Polish premiere of the film in an interview with Interia. “I am very happy with the reception, because the halls are full. This way of showing the film in the cinema and the opportunity to meet and discuss with the audience is something amazing for me. Yesterday I returned from the screening after one in the morning. In the first week it was not so obvious, but since the second week the shows have been sold out. This is a tiny documentary about the situation on the Polish border, but I tried to make something very universal,” she added.

The leitmotif of the document is the wall that stood on the Polish-Belarusian border and it became an excuse to juxtapose two perspectives: contemporary and historical with personal, family history, which Kasia Smutniak shows without being afraid of honesty and important conversations.

“I have been working as an actress and dealing with emotions for twenty years. This profession forces me to really deeply analyze myself, my emotions, but also often the things that we are afraid of, e.g. dealing with the past, etc. At some point, my life became something different, new . After twenty years of telling other people’s stories, my everyday life seemed more interesting than any other stories I could play. Reality exceeded fantasy. The second element is that this was really all I could do. I am not a doctor, lawyer or politician “I used the tools I had at hand, I had the opportunity to do it and I did it” – this is how Smutniak explained her need to make a film.

The film features, among others: activist Man of the Forest, i.e. Mariusz Kurnyta, Jakub Sypiański, representatives of the Border Guard, as well as Kasia Smutniak’s father and grandmother, or her family living in the countryside near the border with Ukraine. In an interview with Interia, the director also talked about how “The Wall” was created and how she convinced her interlocutors to participate in it.

“From the very beginning, it was obvious that it was impossible to record it in a classic way, to go somewhere with a crew. It was impossible to walk around the surrounding towns with a camera. How to convince people who risk their lives to do this… That was the moment which activists and residents were already very tired, tired and powerless. During the peak of the crisis in Kuźnica, they talked to the media, publicized the case, but it led to nothing. So it was difficult for me to convince them to share their time with me. Every moment was being separated either from family or from helping others. I was aware of that,” she admitted.

“The Wall” The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, while the Polish premiere took place in December 2023 at the WATCH DOCS Festival. The film’s Polish tour will start on March 1 in Warsaw and end on March 9 in Piła, the director’s hometown. “I am very happy that viewers from different parts of Poland will be able to see the Wall. The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border is still an important topic and I really want the film to reach as many people as possible. This film was created out of the need to tell a story that could not be told. tell and is a tool for talking to the audience about what is happening on the border of our country,” says Kasia Smutniak.

Kasia Smutniak’s meetings with the audience are also planned. The organizer of the tour is WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film. The documentary will be shown at special screenings in nine cities.

1/03 Warsaw, Muranów cinema, 7.30 p.m

2/03 Lublin, CK cinema, 6 p.m

3/03 ŁódźCharlie cinema, 5 p.m

4/03 Krakow, Agrafka cinema, at 6 p.m

5/03 Katowice, Światowid cinema, 6 p.m

6/03 Wrocław, New Horizons cinema, 18.30

7/03 Poznań, Palace Cinema, 8 p.m

8/03 Bydgoszcz, Młyny Rothera Science and Culture Center, 6 p.m

9/03 Piła, Koral cinema, 6 p.m