Symphony of the Ursus Factory
[Symfonia Fabryki Ursus], directed by Jaśmina Wójcik, Poland 2018, 60’ (English friendly)
The Ursus Factory was one of the largest tractor production plants in Europe. For nearly the entire twentieth century, it was the pride of Polish industry. The fall of communism commenced the beginning of its end. Today, these halls stand empty or are falling into disrepair. Tens of thousands of the biographies of the people who worked there have been thrown into the dustbin of history. The artists invited the factory's former employees—workers, technologists, managers, secretaries—to participate in an experimental documentary film that would revive the factory once again. Its former employees are using their body's memory as well as sounds to recreate one day of work at the plant. This is how the Symphony of the Ursus Factory is born, consisting of choreography created from the activities of workers, technical, administrative and management staff, which is accompanied by their phonosphere reconstruction of heavy industry.
The Symphony is accompanied by something else: the almost forgotten values related to the industrial era – the workers' community, solidarity, work ethos. The revival of the factory sets in motion tractors scattered throughout Poland that were made by the hands of the Ursus workers. Moved by the energy of memory, the machines come to the place where they were born, to pay homage to their builders—the employees of the Ursus Factory. Its buildings will disappear, but Ursus' tractors and workers will always remain part of its genius loci.
The Symphony of the Ursus Factory is a creative documentary, introducing the method of participative art as well as art with the community into the film. This is also a film that combines video art with choreography and experimental music. Above all, however, this film is a voice commemorating the Ursus Factory, industrial and workers' culture, fighting for the dignity of working people as well as for a historical account taking into consideration their biographies.