Andrzej Wajda's Katyń, a film about the thousands of Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD [secret police], had its premiere on 17 September 2007.
The picture, initially entitled Post Mortem. Opowieść katyńska / Post Mortem. The Katyń Story, is an element of the public education campaign "Katyń 1940. I Remember". Despite the many years which have passed since the Katyń crime, the exhumation of bodies, the opening of archives, and Polish research in the 1990s, still too little is known about the events of April and May 1940. The investigation begun in November 2004 by the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation continues. The families of the murdered officers are still waiting for the results.
The plot of the film is set after the war. A Polish officer's mother, wife, and daughter await his return from a POW camp. Worried by his lengthening absence, they decide to start a search. Even though Wajda's film touches upon a historical topic which is among the most painful for Polish people, the director himself wrote that:
"... a film about Katyń cannot aim to reveal the whole truth about this event, since that has been done in both a historical and political aspect. For today's audience, these facts can only form the backdrop for events which are human stories, as only these shown on screen can move viewers, as opposed to reports from our history, whose proper place is in the written records of those times. That's why I see my ... film about Katyń as the story of a Family separated forever, about great illusions and the brutal truth of the Katyń crime. ... [It's a] film about individual suffering, which evokes images with a much greater emotional capacity than historical facts. [It's a] film presenting a truth that's painfully cruel, whose heroes are not the murdered officers but the women who await their return every day, every hour, experiencing inhumane uncertainty ..." (the original Polish comes from the film's official website: www.katyn.netino.pl).
For the director, this is one of his most personal films - for many years he and his family believed that"perhaps our father was alive, since the Katyń list contained the surname Wajda, but with the first name Karol. My mother believed almost until the end of her days in the return of her husband and my father Jakub Wajda ...".
Wajda started shooting the film on 3 October 2006 on a railway bridge near Warsaw. This was the scene of the exodus of Polish people in September 1939. Work on the picture lasted almost 100 days, ending in January 2007. Scenes were shot at 60 locations in different places around Poland - in Warsaw, Kraków, Wyszków, Poświętne, Jarosław, and Stary Dzików.
Katyń was shown outside the competition during the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Parallel with the premiere, schools were sent teaching kits with materials about the murder of Polish officers 67 years before. Wajda's film provides an opportunity to spread information about the Katyń crime to many people all over the world, to those who have never heard or have little knowledge of this crime of the NKVD.
- Katyń, Poland 2007. Director: Andrzej Wajda, first assistant director: Agnieszka Glińska, Marek Cydorowicz, second unit director: Ewa Brodzka, assistant director: Tomasz Bardorsch, screenplay: Andrzej Wajda, Przemysław Nowakowski, script/story: Andrzej Mularczyk, dialogues: Władysław Pasikowski, cinematography: Paweł Edelman, Marek Rajca, lighting: Cezary Lisowski, set design: Magdalena Dipont, assistant designer: Ryszard Melliwa, Marek Kukawski, interior design: Wiesława Chojkowska, costumes: Magdalena Biedrzycka, sound: Jacek Hamela, Leszek Freund, Marek Wronko, editing: Milenia Fiedler, Rafał Listopad, make-up: Waldemar Pokromski, Tomasz Matraszek, producer: Michał Kwieciński, production: Akson Studio, co-financed by: Polish Film Institute, distribution: ITI Cinema (distribution company). Cast: Maja Ostaszewska (Anna, Andrzej's wife), Artur Żmijewski (Andrzej, a cavalry captain of the 8th Uhlan Regiment in Kraków), Danuta Stenka (Róża, the general's wife), Paweł Małaszyński (Lt. Piotr), Magdalena Cielecka (Agnieszka, Lt. Piotr's sister), Maja Komorowska (Andrzej's mother), Władysław Kowalski (Jan, Andrzej's father, a professor of Jagiellonian University), Wiktoria Gąsiewska (Wiktoria, Andrzej and Anna's daughter), Anna Radwan (Elżbieta, Anna's sister-in-law), Andrzej Chyra (Jerzy, lieutenant of the 8th Uhlan Regiment in Kraków), Agnieszka Kawiorska (Ewa, daughter of the general's wife), Joanna Kawiorska (Ewa, daughter of the general's wife), Stanisława Celińska (Stasia, housekeeper in the general's home), Agnieszka Glińska (Irena, Lt. Piotr's sister), Antoni Pawlicki (Tadeusz "Tur", Elżbieta's son), Alicja Dąbrowska (actress playing Antigone), Jakub Przebindowski (curate), Krzysztof Globisz (forensic doctor), Krzysztof Kolberger (canon), Dariusz Poleszak (German officer), Tadeusz Wojtych (photographer Karaś), Jan Englert (general), Sebastian Bezzel, Jacek Braciak, Aleksander Fabisiak, Waldemar Barwiński, Waldemar Pokromski (barber), Oleg Sawkin, Siergiej Garmasz (Russian officer), Ilja (Igor) Zmiejew, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, Leon Charewicz, Andrzej Młynarczyk, Andrzej Pieczyński, Dariusz Toczek, Tomasz Leszczyński (NKVD officer). Premiere: 17 September 2007; cinematic release on 21 September 2007.
Source: the film's official website www.katyn.netino.pl and www.stopklatka.pl