While the film's director, the singer Maria Sadowska calls her film a feminist western others see in it the perverse face of consumerism and rampant capitalism. While taking on the issues of female solidarity, the film centers on a supermarket employee who learns the cost of climbing the social ladder too quickly.
Halina (Katarzyna Kwiatkowska) is a single mother raising a teenage daughter (Julia Czuraj). She just received a promotion and a raise. She is starting to believe that she is able to change her life - get a bigger apartment, not having to constantly count every penny. She gets a loan, moves into the new place, buys a couch and a computer for her daughter. "For the first time I actually have my own room", the 40 year old woman tells her friend.
Soon she will have to pay a price for this change in social and economical status. Her employer (Eryk Lubos) starts giving her conditions and her attempts to live up to them lead to confrontation - with her coworkers and her own conscience. Halina lets herself he seduced by prospects of becoming more successful and starts assuming that being dishonest and using her friends to get a pay raise are all part of the game, she becomes cruel and cold. She is faced with challenging situations, she has to fire one of her employees who are both her friends, one is pregnant and the other is fifty and just lost her husband.
The film is inspired by the true story of Bożena Łopacka who sued the Polish supermarket chain Biedronka for inhuman treatment of their employees, a case that was very big in the media. While Maria Sadowska calls her movie a feminist western because of the female protagonist who is first lured into the dark side by the corporate regime but then emerges to fight it, during the Gdynia Film Festival her script co-writer Katarzyna Terechowicz added, "I was fascinated by the fact that the woman who is capable of coming out of the role of the victim: she losses everything, yet somehow she is the one who wins. This is unusual." Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, who for her role as Halina worked in a supermarket for a couple of days added, "I really wanted to prove that it was possible to be a nice, satisfied cashier [...] But I had so many things to do that I really had a hard time keeping a smile on my face".
Polish critics have praised the first time director for her choice of topic which, as she comments, shows,
The Polish reality, with its rampant capitalism and consumerism is alarmingly absurd. And it is this absurdity of the situation that I wish to display in my film. Our character lives in a small town, leading a part of her life in a narrow world of a supermarket. She is the key to building the feel of this story – one of a hopeless situation, a sort of mental and physical claustrophobia.
Reviewers have pointed to the romance between Halina and her boss as a metaphor for her relation with the corporation. "He is the one forcing her to act differently, to betray her friends, he treats her like dirt", Jakub Marmurek writes for Krytyka Polityczna, "their erotic relation is based on masochistic humiliation and an internalised feeling of inferiority". Writing for culture.pl Bartosz Staszczyszyn adds that Women's Day is also a story about an image of femininity formed by a patriarchal society chich women are starting to fight against, making their voices heard.
Maria Sadowska studied directing at the Łódz Film School. She has made a couple of short films. Her feautre debut Women's Day qualified for the main competition at the Gdynia Film Festival. Sadowska is an accomplished Polish singer and song writer, author of 9 solo albums, who began her musical career at age 14. Speaking for the PAP press agency she said,
I always dreamed of becoming a film director. I was interested in music, photography, painting. And director's have to be a little bit of everything […] But it turned out that in my life music came in the first place. I planned that when I was still young I would be doing music. I believe age plays an important role in the lives of directors. The older you are the more you have to tell.
Women's Day comes to Polish cinemas on March 8th, 2013.
- November 2012, Janusz "Kuba" Morgenstern "Perspective" Award for Most Promising Debut
- The Jantar 2012 Award for Best Script at the 31st Koszalin "The Young and Film" Festival
- Main Prize for Best Film at the International Festival of Eastern European Cinema in Cottbus 2012
- Women's Day / Dzień kobiet, Poland 2012, 90 minutes. Direction: Maria Sadowska, Script: Katarzyna Terechowicz, Maria Sadowska, cinematography: Radosław Ładczuk, music: Maria Sadowska, art direction: Joanna Kaczyńska, costumes: Anna Englert, editing: Jarosław Kamiński, sound: Tomasz Wieczorek. Cast: Katarzyna Kwiatkowska (Halina Radwan), Eryk Lubos (Eryk Gąsiorowski), Grażyna Barszczewska (Regina Radwan), Klara Bielawka, Ewa Konstancja Bułhak, Julia Czuraj (Misia), Bartłomiej Firlet, Zina Kerste, Dorota Kolak (Maryla), Agata Kulesza (psycholog), Leonard Pietraszak (mecenas Gawlik), Anita Jancia-Prokopowicz (Jadzia Staroń), Elżbieta Romanowska, Maria Seweryn, Dorota Wierzbicka, Ireneusz Czop. Produced by: Andrzej Munk "The Young and Film" Studio Polish Filmmakers Association, producer: Jacek Bromski, Dariusz Gajewski, Ewa Jastrzębska
Sources: based on the article by Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl, Film New Europa, Studio Munka
Editor: Marta Jazowska