“When I lost my father, I began to wonder where I came from”, said the conductor Marc Minkowski a few years ago. Today, with help from Rafael Lewandowski, a director brought up in France, he reconstructs his family saga.
August Minkowski was a great-grandfather of the conductor and a Warsaw banker. His apartment was situated near the Grand Theatre and his bank was located on the corner of Marszałkowska and Świętokrzyska Street. Today, at this exact spot, there is an entrance to Świętokrzyska subway station. His great-grandmother - Tekla Minkowska – helped Jewish ghetto orphans in Otwock, where August died in 1942.
Rafael Lewandowski, the director of “Minkowski Saga”, says that he has returned to the themes that were a subject of his first films, allowing him to:
“once again inquire how the process of interdependence between past and present, individual and collective memory can function''.
Marc Minkowski is the main protagonist and narrator of Lewandowski’s film. The conductor takes a journey through Poland, more specifically to Warsaw, where his ancestors lived and worked, and to Otwock, where his grandparents had a cottage. The music of great Polish composers – Stanisław Moniuszko, Karol Szymanowski, Grażyna Bacewicz and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki accompanies him during the journey.
'I was in Poland in the 1980s with the Jean-Claude Malgoire orchestra - said Marc Minkowski in the pages of Le Monde - everything seemed to me to be grey and depressing back then. Later, I returned several times with my band "Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble". (...) My family have always talked about Poland with a feeling of pride mixed with bitterness, as a fascinating land associated with painful events, war, and anti-Semitism''.
Marc Minkowski family history is like a lens which focuses on the history of Poland and even Central Europe, especially the interwar period and the later years of the Holocaust. Two sons of his grandfathers converted to Catholicism (Paul - a diplomat working in Switzerland and Anatol - a soldier who died in Katyń), the other two - Mieczysław and Eugeniusz were faithful to Judaism.
Marc Minkowski was born in 1962. He learned how to play the bassoon and conduct – he became especially famous as a conductor. At the age of 20, he founded the Les Musiciens du Louvre group, specializing in French Baroque. At the beginning of his career, Minkowski primarily performed baroque music. Nowadays he pays more attention to 19th century and contemporary music. Between 2008 and 2012, he was the musical director of the Sinfonia Varsovia.
Rafael Lewandowski was born in a French-Polish family. He gained a bachelor's degree in the field of cinematography at the Sorbonne, and later studied at Paris' famous La Femis school. His gained recognition in the field of documentary film, but his greatest acclaim came with his direction of the feature film “The Mole” (“Kret”), in which Borys Szyc, a famous Polish actor, played the main role.
The world premiere of “Minkowski Saga” will take place on April 1st at Kultura Cinema in Warsaw. The film will later be shown in May at the Planete Doc Festival.
Sources: press materials, Polish Radio, Rzeczpospolita, Le Monde, translated: Katarzyna M