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Polish director Smarzowski appeals for funds to finish WWII epic

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 18.02.2016 12:29
Award-winning director Wojciech Smarzowski has appealed for financial help to finish a film about the WWII Volhynia Massacres, a traumatic page in Polish-Ukrainian history.
Wojciech Smarzowski (C) on set during part of the shoot. Photo: PISF/Marcin KuławkowskiWojciech Smarzowski (C) on set during part of the shoot. Photo: PISF/Marcin Kuławkowski

Smarzowski says he needs PLN 2.5 million (EUR 570,000 ) to shoot the last scenes of the production, which takes on a subject that has yet to be explored by film directors.

“The theme of the film scares people off,” he said.

Companies, firms and banks which usually support budgets immediately back off at the mention of genocide, slaughter and Ukraine,” he revealed.

The Polish Film Institute (PISF) provided Smarzowski with PLN 4 million, and filming got underway in the autumn of 2014. The shoot has taken place in stops and starts, so as to evoke the changing seasons.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 ethnic Poles are believed to have been slaughtered from 1943 to 1944 by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a guerrilla force that sought Ukrainian independence.

The killings broke out in the Volhynia region, then occupied by Nazi Germany, but the murders soon spread to other parts of occupied south east Poland.

Smarzowski said at the beginning of the shoot that he would not make “a black and white” version of events, noting that he will show “retaliatory killings” by the Polish underground Home Army, and that he will distinguish UPA partisans from ordinary Ukrainians.

About 2,000-3,000 Ukrainians were killed by Poles in Volhynia, followed by about 20,000 others when the fighting spread to other areas of south east Poland.

The plot of Smarzowski's film, which has the working title of 'Volhynia', hinges on a young Polish woman who wants to marry a Ukrainian from the same village, contrary to her parents' wishes.

A regular winner on the film festival circuit, Smarzowski is one of Poland's most noted directors. He made his feature film debut with 2004's The Wedding, and 'Volhynia' is his sixth film. (nh)

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