A special showing of Andrzej Wajda's landmark film Katyń will be screened today as part of the grand opening of the 32nd Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Poland's most prestigious festival runs through Sept. 22.
The screening marks the inauguration of an educational campaign in Polish schools about the execution of some 22,000 Polish officers who were taken prisoner by the Red Army at the beginning of World War II and shot in the Katyń forest. Wajda, whose own father was one of the victims, tells the story of three women - a mother, wife and daughter - who vainly wait in Krakow for the return of a Polish officer in 1946. The Gdynia festival will feature a Russian Day that will include screenings of eight movies over four days, along with a conference on prospects for Polish-Russian cooperation in filmmaking. The conference will be opened by Agnieszka Odorowicz, director of the Polish Film Institute. After a special presentation of Katyń for relatives Sept. 12. She described it as "a film owed to the generation that fought for our freedom, as well as to the young generation to restore the memory of this period." Surveys show that as many as 40% of Poles do not know the history of the Katyń massacre. Presentation of the filmmaking systems of other European countries has become a festival tradition, and this year will mark Scandinavian Day. Eight movies will be presented: two films each from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. After the screenings the audience will have an opportunity to meet the filmmakers. A key event of Scandinavian Day will be the special conference on support mechanisms for Scandinavian cinematography. Representatives of the Scandinavian film institutes, experienced filmmakers and others professionally involved in the filmmaking business from Poland and Scandinavia will participate in the conference. The Gdynia festival is intended not only for professionals, but for all fans of Polish cinema. For the last several years, the screenings have been open to the public.