2014 Vol. 6 No. 2 — Summer / Bulletin Board

Summer 2014 Bulletin Board

NEON_posterEric Bednarski’s new documentary, Neon, co-produced with Culture.pl and premiered at Warsaw’s Planete + Doc festival in May, traces the history of neon illumination in Warsaw. The first neon signs appeared after Poland regained its independence, their brightness a symbol of the country’s bright future. All destroyed during the occupation, the rebuilding of Warsaw ushered in a new era of “neonization,” this time to advertise Polish socialism. Though conforming to the demands of socialist realism was obligatory, the neons nevertheless provided artists with a new form of artistic expression and many of the signs were quite splendid.


Still from Neon courtesy of Eric Bednarski

Bednarski’s story of Warsaw’s neon signs reflects Poland’s tumultuous 20th century history. He features surviving neon signs, visits the Museum of Neon Signs in the Soho Factory and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, and talks to artists, architects, art historians neon sign designers and manufacturers. Original music, by Daniel Bloom, reflects the times and places depicted in the film.

An English version of Neon will be available this summer. Watch for more news in CR’s October issue.

Photo: "Warsaw Uprising" press materials

Photo: “Warsaw Uprising” press materials

A new Polish documentary about the Warsaw Uprising, Powstanie Warszawskie, released in Poland in May, was made entirely from remastered and colourised archival film footage. The credits include the names of the professional cameramen working during the war with the Polish resistance. In one scene, a young resistance fighter, a cameraman, objects: “We are supposed to be fighting, not taking pictures.” To which his brother responds, “And who will know about it if we don’t record it?”

Record it they did, and using today’s technology the six hours of film have been formed into the story of the uprising. The dialogue is as accurate as it can be thanks to a specialist deciphering the words from lip movement, while historians, architects, urban studies specialists and many others ensuring that the film corresponds as closely as possible to the original. Even the sounds of the street, explosions, collapsing buildings or the rustle of leaves were captured by sound director Bartosz Putkiewic. An amazing technical achievement.

For the moment, it is only available in Polish but CR will let you know as soon as the English version is available. Meanwhile, check out these sites for further information:

‘Warsaw Uprising’ – a feature film based on documentaries

‘Shockingly authentic’ Warsaw Rising movie premieres

PHOTO: Instytut Książki

PHOTO: Instytut Książki

Bill Johnston, who just a year ago did a grand sweep of the most prestigious translation prizes in the USA (Best Translated Book Award 2012: Fiction, PEN Translation Prize, AATSEEL Translation Award) has won the Transatlantyk Prize for 2014 awarded by the Book Institute in Kraków. The prize is granted to outstanding ambassadors of Polish literature abroad. British born, Bill taught English in Poland in the early 1980s. Among his students was University of Toronto professor Tamara Trojanowska, who wrote about her teacher and lifelong friend for CR.


Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Novum

Jagiellonian University Celebrates its 650th Jubilee

Let it become a refreshing fount of learning from whose plenitude all those wishing to imbibe the skills of scholarship may drink their fill.

These words are inscribed in Jagiellonian University’s foundation charter issued by King Casimir the Great on 12 May 1364.

The year-long celebration includes international conferences on topics including history –such as open lectures by Professors Norman Davies and Timothy Garton Ash; cognitive science, medicine, physics, media and the arts; exhibitions of the university’s art and manuscript collections, photography, and a special exhibit celebrating 600 years of Polish-Turkish relations.

Music, including chamber concerts; an oratorio performed by the Jagiellonian Academic Choir and the Orchestra, Choir and Boy’s Choir of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic; and the premiere of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s “Universa-Open Opera,” specially commissioned for the occasion. Kaczmarek stressed the “Open” part of the title, the work being a combination of high and mass culture.

Many events take place beyond the university’s walls: an international regatta on the Vistula River; tours of the city, illumination of the university’s building featuring surprising images, a Gala at the Juliusz Slowacki Theatre… and general merrymaking. The many international guests reflect the words of the Rector of Jagiellonian, Professor Wojciech Nowak, who noted that the university “has always been cosmopolitan in nature.” At one point in its history, 44 percent of the students hailed from different parts of Europe and included, besides Poles, Ruthenians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Germans, Czechs, the Swiss, the English, the Dutch, the French, Spaniards and Italians and Tatars.

Words can’t express. Do visit the site and join the festivities, if only virtually. Click on News, then Reports, for a marvelous visual review.


Check out the latest Saatchi & Saatchi ad featuring photography by Chris Niedenthal who tells us why he loves to photograph Poland.

Also check out Turn Off the System – Freedom Day (wouldn’t everyone everywhere want to do that occasionally?) And take a look at the revival of PRL era designs that never got into production then… but are pretty hot now.

Celebrate freedom with the people who showed the world how it’s done.

AAIDD_logo_webGlobal Perspectives on Disability Policies and Practices
AAIDD Delegation to Poland & UMB Special and Inclusive Education: Focus on Poland
October 12-24, 2014

The American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) is pleased to announce the following study abroad program in collaboration with The School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (GISD), The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), and The College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS) at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB)

The delegates will meet with leading disability professionals and academic researchers and also be given guided tours of Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Lublin, Oświęcim and Wieliczka.

Complete details including application forms here.

It was CR‘s very own Vince Chesney who proposed and promoted the idea that the AAIDD conference to go to Poland.

CR publishes book + film reviews, interviews, profiles and more. All with a Polish slant, in English.
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