FNE at Regiofun: Polish Documentary on Jewish Culture Completes Filming

By Katarzyna Grynienko
    KATOWICE: Paweł Gula has moved into post-production with his film Jewish Shtetle, a project exploring the coexistence of Jewish and Polish culture in Świętokrzyskie Province.

    Jewish Shtetle follows a meeting of Polish and Jewish youth that travels through the Świętokrzyskie Province and studies the history and modern Jewish heritage in the region.

    Gula, the documentary's director and initiator is a Polish filmmaker born in Kielce. A graduate of Lodz Film School (www.filmschool.lodz.pl), he left Poland in 2001 and is currently living and working in the USA. His documentary Damned to Heaven received the Best Documentary Feature Film Award at the Red Rock Film Festival (www.redrockfilmfestival.com) in 2007. Jewish Shtetle is produced by Monika Urbańska and co-financed by with Świętokrzyskie Film-Promotion Fund ( ROT, www.rot.swietokrzyskie.travel) with 0.5 million PLN (EUR 115,000 ).

    "It was important for us to depart from the negative association of Kielce only with the pogrom of the Jewish people. We want to show the rich history of the region, the joint heritage, positive actions and the optimistic future. While we start with the issues of the pogrom and events of World War II, we want the film to bring the message of forgiveness, friendship and a renewed relationship," Adam Dąbek of the ROT told FNE during the 2nd Refiofun IFF in Katowice (www.regiofun.eu).

    Shooting for the film started in October 2010 and continued on and off for 12 months. The filmmakers followed children from Israel visiting the Świętokrzyskie Province and then moved to Israel to capture the visit of Polish youth in exchange. The authorities of Świętokrzyskie are hoping to change the image of their region and invite Jewish tourists from Israel, Western Europe and the USA to visit several places strongly connected to Jewish culture that are located in the province.

    The premiere of the film is planned for the end of 2011/beginning 2012, with plans for both cinema and television distribution.