Maciej Stuhr in Pasikowski's "Aftermath", photo: Marcin Makowski / Apple Film Production, Monolith Film
In awarding Pasikowski's Aftermath, the Avner Shalev Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award, the Jewish community takes a stance on a film based on events about Jews murdered by Poles during the Second World War
Addressing unhealed wounds and the past's hushed tragedies through the story of two brothers who try to get to the root of a village conflict and discover its hidden secrets, Władysław Pasikowski reflects contemporary Poland and the current national consciousness. Without explicit reference or reconstruction of the past, Aftermath addresses the pogrom in July 1941 in the Polish village of Jedwabne. During the German occupation of Poland, at least 340 Polish Jews were massacred there by their Polish neighbours.
Aftermath raised controversy on its release in Poland, drawing criticism from Polish nationalists who accused it of manipulating historical truth. Writing for Culture.pl, Bartosz Staszczyszyn comments that the film is not a reconstruction of those events, it is a thriller based on the events, and praises Pasikowski for finding the right balance between an attractive form and exactness in relating historical facts - while raising troubled issues of Polish anti-Semitism.
The script for the Dutch/Polish/Russian/Slovak production was written with the consultation of experts including Barbara Engelking, an associate professor at the Polish Center for Holocaust Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the historical consultant Krzysztof Persak. "When I read the script for the first time", said Dr. Persak at a public discussion, "I was very impressed at how all these situations are accurate. These characters and situations have their prototypes in reality".
Aftermath was awarded at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which ran between the 4th and 13th of July. In their statement, the festival jury said that "Aftermath is a gripping journey into the heart of the Holocaust’s darkness, a film that manages both to reckon with the most painful of historical events and to bring them eerily to life in the present tense". The Avner Shalev Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award is presented by the Yad Vashem Visual Center, Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953.
The prize is yet another accolade for the film. It has received the Jan Karski Eagle (Orły) Award, the Journalists' Award at the 37th Polish Film Festival 2012 in Gdynia, and two Eagle Awards from the Polish Film Academy: Best Male Role for Maciej Stuhr and Best Set Design for Allan Starski.
Editor: MJ 15.07.2013