Under a Placid Sky
directed by Anna Konik, Poland 2018, 89' (English friendly)
An artistic film documentary. It arose from the need to record the history and experiences of a certain local community—the Jewish population, displaced Polish persons from the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy) and the German minority—building the identity of a small town in Upper Silesia with the sonorous name of Dobrodzień (Guttentag), which can be translated into good day. These are familiar lands for Anna Konik, her parents settled there as repatriates, displaced from areas currently located in Eastern Ukraine. The convoluted biographies of people, narrations of places and events, the fate of the Germans, Jews as well as Poles are intertwined into the common history of Dobrodzień. The fate of the families from this town vary greatly—some have been here since always, others have experienced brutal displacement, and others still have fled or been deported. The artist created a film story from the micronarration of people from various generations living in Dobrodzień before World War II, during the war, and later in the Polish People’s Republic from preserved photographs, reports from newspapers and chronicles; she also gave voice to the local architecture as well as nature, changing in accordance with the seasons. The unhurried rhythm of the film, the repeated appearance of several selected locations from the town and the surrounding area, as well as the repetitive perspective from which the camera filmed them, gave this work simultaneously an intimate and universal look. However, what is most crucial in this documentary is the artist’s mother, the main character, who suffers from senile dementia. She become the starting point for looking at collective dementia in the context of historical, political, and social events. Gaps in history, the blurring of facts, repressing from memory are only part of the process of passing and change. After the tragic, often traumatic experiences of the people living in this place, left are shreds of memories, awareness of the fall, silence and emptiness. Anna Konik tries to fill it with words and images taken out of oblivion.
The premiere of the film took place in a Polish competition at the 58th Kraków Film Festival in May of this year.