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Do Poznania: Conversations in Poland


Personal glimpses of Polish life immediately preceding glasnost. Filmed during my two month-long visits (1986, 1988) as American Literature and Culture Specialist at Adam Mickiewicz University, it offers everyday street scenes, crumbling building facades, remains of death camps Auschwitz and Birkenau, Solidarity monument at Gdansk's Lenin Shipyard and traveling shots of idyllic countryside, all in a handheld camera style: personal, raw, rapid, eccentric, intense-- the opposite of Lowell Thomas or PBS. Charging the rapidly fleeting images are gists of conversations with Poles in which I took part, re-created back in US--health and financial problems, queuing, environmental issues, Chernobyl, food, communists, anti-semitism, "free" education and work under Soviet socialism.

The "voices" I re-present are urgent and multiple, and enrich the images with ambiguity, contradiction and personal history. This film (pronounced "Doe Pohznawnia") is an unpretentious, unconventional, unimposing and uncompromising record of life in the last (and in some ways, worst) days of a regime whose loss of power was just around the corner.

"[Ball] quickly draws the viewer into the realm of visual and aural poetry. But in addition to being poetry, Do Poznania is a parable reminding us of the dangers of our own homegrown cultural/political authoritarianism. In this sense Do Poznania is much akin to Alain Resnais' Nuit et Bruillard (Night and Fog), another cautionary film with poetic/parable qualities.

"The poetic parable is Ball's natural territory....

"Do Poznania-indeed Ball's total filmmaking career-points to a wider socio-cultural reality. In an age when the individual/personal is so rapidly being subsumed/swallowed by the collective/corporate, the only way for us to receive unmediated individual-poetic truths may well be in the forms of works like Do Poznania. We need dozens of diarists like Gordon Ball..."
--Stephen Flinn Young, Art Papers

Thanks: Appalshop and Virginia Commission for the Arts

Exhibition (premiere): Virginia Festival of American Film

Collections: University of Virginia, Davidson College

Print available through Filmmakers Co-op.