"Ida" (trailer: YouTube & Apple) is a black & white (and a Polish language) film from Poland by director Pavel Pawlikowski (this link contains spoilers). Hailed a film "masterpiece" by more than one critic, the film has now been recognized in America by not just one Oscar nomination (Foreign Language Film) but a 2nd in the broader category of Cinematography. For those interested in filmmaking, cinematography, and lighting, here is a look at three scenes from Ida. More? Here are another four scenes. The film is not without controversy, including Poles who are upset at the portrayal of their countrymen (and women) during the Nazi occupation and the Stalinism that followed WWII. Does 'Ida' misrepresent Poland's treatment of Jews?
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
Russia bans apples from Poland due to health regulation violations. Ukrainian cornmeal and McDonalds are also on the hit list. Russia has a pattern of banning the products of countries it has disputes with — under the guise of sanitary violations — in order to impose political pressure. [more inside]
From behind the New Yorker's temporarily removed paywall, a postmodern murder mystery from Poland in 2007.
Wojciech Jarzelski, Poland's last Communist leader, has died from complications following a stroke. [more inside]
Just over a month out from the final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Denmark, and the line-up of acts contesting semi-finals one and two, and getting a bye into the grand final, is clear. While there's the usual rivalries, and a special focus on how Ukraine and Russia will do in the voting, the entry that is receiving much early attention is from never-winning Poland... [more inside]
Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online. [more inside]
Alexander II was known as the liberator of serfs, because under his rule, in 1861, serfs were granted the freedom to marry without having to gain consent, to own property, and to own businesses. In 1862, Alexander II signed off on the ethnic cleansing of Circassians that began as a simple resettlement, and led to (by official Tsarist documents, more by other accounts) over 400,000 deaths. Circassians in fact protest the 2014 Olympics in Sochi being that it was the supposed site of their final expulsion. [more inside]
What happens to a nation that's suffered a great crime? What happens when the wrong can't be made right?
Tadeusz Mazowiecki has died. The first prime minister after the fall of communist regime in Poland was later an UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Bosnia and resigned this post in protest over the failure of international community to prevent the Srebrenica massacre. [more inside]
"Polish architect Jakub Szczesny claims to have built the world's narrowest house, just 122 centimetres across at its widest point."
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest organized rebellion by Jews during World War II. Marek Edelman, a leader of the uprising, recalls the ghetto and the revolt. [more inside]
Jodie: Life in Warsaw. A short film about an American woman trying to grow happiness, living in the socialist-era housing estate where her husband grew up.
On March 5 a team of four Polish climbers completed the first winter ascent of Broad Peak, one of the world's 8000m mountains. On the descent two of the climbers, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, ran into problems and were forced to spend the night at 7900m. Despite efforts to establish radio contact and locate the climbers the next morning they were declared missing on March 6. On March 8 expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki reported that Berbeka and Kowalski were dead and that the team was heading home. [more inside]
Newly declassified documents show the United States had full knowledge of the Katyn massacre, the Soviet massacre of 22,000 Polish officers. The Soviets attempted to blame Nazi Germany. The scars of Katyn remain on Poland, after the Russian State Duma admitted and condemned Stalin's role in Katyn, a delegation of 130 prominent Poles including the President on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary at the site died in a plane crash.
"A farming town hid a Jewish-born teacher during the Holocaust. I went to dig up what it had buried."
Though I grew up in America, I have been visiting my family in Poland since I was a child. But it is only recently, since the great debate began two years ago between [Jan] Gross and [Timothy] Snyder over the causes and extent of Polish co-operation with the Nazis during the Holocaust, that I thought to ask the old people of my family village about what happened during the war. My grandparents mentioned bits and pieces of our family’s World War II history over the years, but it often seemed too painful for them to recall, or as though they wanted the memories to simply be forgotten. When I finally decided to broach the topic with them, my grandmother repeated that she didn’t understand why I cared to dig so deep into the past, why I cared so much about Wladyslaw and his story.[more inside]
Heavy Breeding. "In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their 'primitive' characteristics, they attempted to recreate 'in appearance and behavior' the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs. 'Once found everywhere in Germany,' according to Lutz Heck, by the end of the Middle Ages the aurochs had largely succumbed to climate change, overhunting, and competition from domestic breeds." [more inside]
In a high profile gaffe President Barack Obama has recently caused anger in Poland by referring to a Nazi death camp as a "Polish death camp" during a ceremony honoring World War II hero Jan Karski with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted. Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.” [more inside]
With just over one week to the UEFA Euro 2012 kickoff, a BBC Panorama special Stadiums of Hate uncovers widespread, systemic racism and far-right violence amongst sects of Polish and Ukranian Football fans.
The eight fingered Polish-Norwegian artist Andrej Nebb with his band, performing Bo jo cie kochom in Oslo in 1980. How he lost two fingers? Cutting his guitar with a chainsaw. That’s why he had to play bass instead. Basically he fled communism to live a rock ‘n’ roll life. Here he is back in Poland in 2002, at Przystanek Woodstock.
Piotr Czerski sets out a Polish manifesto demanding respect for the internet generation (translated from the original Polish) that is reminiscent of a Eastern European addition to previous internet manifestos. Poland is somewhere this has definite roots however, with a recent anti-ACTA protest of over 10,000 people and legislators wear anon masks in parliament.
A walk through Białowieża Forest. Białowieża Forest is a primeval (old-growth) forest on the border of Poland and Belarus, first set aside as a preserve for wisent (European bison) in 1638. [more inside]
Anti-ACTA protests have begun around Europe after the secret treaty was signed in Tokyo last Friday. Activists have planned larger protests for Saturday 11 February. The European Parliament will formally consider ACTA in June. (previously) [more inside]
78 78s - In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
Diagnosed with cancer, my father decided to have his tongue removed. It’s an extreme treatment, but he’s always known how to make things work out.
On December 13, 1981, Poland awoke to an announcement by Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski declaring a "state of war" (stan wojenny). Martial law would last until July 22, 1983. [more inside]
Franz Sedlacek (1891 – 1945) was an Austrian painter who belonged to the tradition known as "New Objectivity" ("neue Sachlichkeit"), an artistic movement similar to Magical Realism. At the end of the Second World War he "disappeared" as a soldier of the Wehrmacht somewhere in Poland.
Views of Power is a project by Konrad Pustoła which reframes the point of view of the most powerful and influential people in Krakow, Poland by positioning photographs taken from those persons' office windows and posting them on billboards throughout the city. Some discussion on the project at New Art.
To celebrate the recent summer solstice, residents of Poznań, Poland gathered to break the country’s record for releasing paper lanterns by setting 8,000 of the glowing lights aloft. More. (via) [more inside]
802 Prisoners attempted escape from Auschwitz. 144 were successful. Kazimierz Piechowski, a Polish boy scout, was one of them. Today, at age 91, he tells his story. [more inside]
Satiric Art by Polish artist Pawła Kuczyńskiego (Paul Kuczynski).
"The Szpilman Award is awarded to works that exist only for a moment or a short period of time. The purpose of the award is to promote such works whose forms consist of ephemeral situations." This years winner is Treebute to Yogya. The organisers also maintain a blog and an encyclopædia of ephemeral works.
Animal Farm; or, a Short and Somewhat Political History of Comics in Poland by Tomasz Kołodziejczak, translated by Michael Kandel. More Polish comics info here.
Lviv Interactive, a project of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, is mapping the history, architecture, and human landscape of the City of Lions - including locations no longer there. [more inside]
World War II was a time that called for many things from many different people. However, one Polish soldier stepped above and beyond the call of his nature. He carried ammunition, he helped his squad members get better at wrestling, and he drank and smoked with the rest of them - Wojtek, the soldier bear. [more inside]
The history of Poland, in eight minutes, in CGI, from the country's exhibition at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The film is full of blink-and-you'll-miss-it references - check the date at the bottom-left of the screen and see how many you can find! [more inside]
Poetry in Hell contains a complete collection of poems recovered from the Warsaw Ghetto's Ringelblum Archives. The project, which took ten years to complete, gives English translations of poems that are shown in their original Yiddish. [more inside]
The President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, his wife and 130 others, including a huge proportion of the elite of Polish politics, have died in a plane crash. [more inside]
Poland's late, great, legendary reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski is accused of making it up. [more inside]
Queens of Poland Long review/essay at the DRB on Michał Witkowski's Lubiewo (forthcoming in English translation as Lovetown; extract here), a book about gay life in Poland both in the days of communism and the subsequent Third Republic.
Poland has declared a state of emergency, after the infamous bronze sign reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" at former Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) Auschwitz was stolen yesterday. [more inside]
2010 is the bicentennial of the birth of Frédéric François Chopin - a reluctant instrumental virtuoso, an immortal Romantic composer, and all-around bastard. [more inside]
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [more inside]
The Thirty Years War is a website covers that ginormous kerfuffle that consumed Europe in the first half of the 17th Century from the Second Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia. It has a handy map with a place locator which will help you tell your Schweidnitz from your Schweinfurt. Here are some other maps, The Religious Situation in Central Europe about 1618, Principal Seats of War, 1618-1660 and Europe in 1648 - Peace of Westphalia.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
Marek Edelman dies aged 90. A leader of the Jewish Fighting Organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Dr. Edelman survived to later fight in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and in the post-war years was a key figure in preserving the memory of his fallen comrades-in-arms.
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