Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Monday, July 29, 2013

Walesa biopic world premiere at Venice festival

Andrzej Wajda's biopic of Solidarity legend Lech Walesa will have its world premiere at the 70th Venice Film Festival. 

Robert Wieckiewicz as Lech Wąlęsa
The eagerly anticipated movie, which stars award-winning actor Robert Wieckiewicz (In Darkness) in the lead role, will be screened out of competition.

“The news that my latest film Walesa: Man of Hope will begin its screen life in Venice has given be great joy,” Wajda reflected, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP), adding that the festival “has played such an important role in my life.”

The 87-year-old's 1958 classic Ashes and Diamonds, part of his trilogy about WWII Polish resistance fighters, was forbidden by Poland's communist authorities from being shown in festival competitions. However, the Venice festival organisers managed to organise a screening, a decision that provided a major boost to the director's international career.

The Venice Film Festival presented Wajda with a life-time achievement award in 1998.

Wajda recently decided to change the name of his current movie from Walesa to Walesa: Man of Hope. The title echoes his two feted films connected with the emergence of opposition to the communist regime, Man of Marble (1977) and Man of Iron (1981).

The 70th Venice Film Festival begins on 28 August,

Slav and Viking Festival

Over 2000 enthusiasts from across the world took part in the 19th International Festival of Slavs and Vikings over the weekend in Wolin on Poland's Baltic coast.

This year's edition included pitched battles with scores of swords and axes swinging through the air.

Visitors to the ancient town on the Baltic were also able to peruse some more peaceful activities, with bakers rustling up bread the old-fashioned way, and potters displaying their wares.

A competition was also held for the most distinguished Viking beard, while ladies competed for the finest plaits.

Meanwhile, folk bands such as Percival, Birka Boys and Perunwit provided sonic entertainment, complemented by Belarus's medieval-style DiGrease’s Buffoon Theatre.

The International Festival of Slavs and Vikings was first held in Wolin in 1993, inspired by the theory that a Viking colony lived at the site in the 10th century.

The three-day event, which saw participants from 36 countries, closed on Sunday. (nh)

Source: PAP

Kraków Selected by Pope

The pontiff broke the news on Sunday before a crowd of some 3 million faithful at the closing ceremony of this year's World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Dear young friends, we have an appointment in Krakow, Poland for the next World Youth Day in 2016,” he declared to rapturous applause on Rio's Copacabana beach, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Scores of young Poles in the crowds celebrated on hearing the news.

Late pontiff Pope John Paul II had served as Archbishop of Krakow, and his former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz – current Archbishop of Krakow – was among the first to welcome the news.

“We express our gratitude to the Holy Father for this decision,” he noted in a statement released through news agency AFP.

“We look forward to your coming and to the arrival of so many of our young friends with great anticipation and joy.”

Meanwhile, Joanna Trzaska-Wieczorek, a spokesperson for President Bronislaw Komorowski, told Polish Radio of the president's delight on hearing the news.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Judicial treasure

A metal ammunition box crammed with documents unearthed by farmers plowing their field held an extraordinary collection from Poland's underground WWII justice system. The material was presented to the local priest in Korzeniste, a village in north east Poland who passed it on to the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a state-backed body charged with investigating historical crimes against Polish citizens.

Following careful restoration many of the documents are now legible. Preliminary studies indicate that the materials cover the period 1942-1944, and were probably hidden so as not to fall into the hands of the retreating Nazi Germans, and the advancing Red Army.

The documents include sentences meted out in the region by the underground courts of Poland's Home Army (AK). The Home Army, Poland's principal underground force, was empowered by the Polish government-in-exile in London to mete out sentences – including death sentences – on the terrain of occupied Poland.

Bananas Polska

If you wondered where Poland gets its bananas from... wonder no more.

Conservative momentum

In a survey conducted between July 12 and 15 40% of respondents told pollsters that they would vote for the conservative Law and Justice if elections were held this month. 34 % said they would support Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s neo-liberal Civic Platform Party.  Law and Justice, last in power between 2005 and 2007, has had a lead over Civic Platform for much of this year as Poland economy slows after years of robust growth.

Retirement age has increased from 65 to 67, the Central Bank has been lowering interest rates and the best economy in the EU through the financial crisis is showing signs of slowing.

Although industrial output was double that which was forecast during the month of June, there is some worry that Europe's continuing recession is starting to infect Poland.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Volyn WWII massacre memorial

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski unveiled a monument  on the 70th anniversary of the Volyn massacre to honor 40,000 Poles killed by nationalist Ukrainian partisans in Nazi occupied Poland during World War II.

The 1943 atrocity was aimed at driving out the Polish minority in a part of Galicia.

On 11 July alone 10,000 people were murdered. Poles later retaliated and the conflict killed up to 100,000 people in total. The violence also displaced some 1.5 million people from their homes.

The nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out the massacre. The army was anti-Soviet and pushing for Ukrainian independence. 

After the war Volyn was incorporated into the Soviet Union while Poland's western border was shifted further west.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Polish vampire graves

In the eleventh century shortly after Poland adopted Christianity, anybody accused of being a vampire faced a gruesome outcome.

They would be decapitated or hung from a gibbet until decomposition resulted in the head falling from the body. In both cases the head was then laid on the legs of the deceased so that a failure to locate their head would keep them from rising out of the grave.

In Gliwice, were archaeologists more accustomed to finding human remains of the bloody fighting of World War II, they have found vampire graves on a highway construction site. Skeletons were found with their heads removed and placed on their legs indicating they had been subjected to an execution ritual designed to ensure the dead stayed dead.

Historians say that the practice was common in the Slavic lands following the adoption of Christianity by pagan tribes.

When they were buried is open to speculation. The skeletons were found with no jewelry, belt buckles, buttons or anything that could aid the task of determining their age.

Contrasting the classic Dracula image of a caped, blood-sucking aristocrat, the definition of a vampire in the middle ages was much broader. People who kept old pagan customs and left food on the graves of dead relatives could be accusations of vampirism, and suffered prompt execution.

More about Polish Vampires

Friday, July 05, 2013

What Poles are listening to

Both "love" and "music" are considered to be the international language. So let's take a moment to listen in on what songs are being loved in Poland! Find out by clicking play on the fast-paced video below. The music-listening habits of random people in the city of Bydgoszcz was posted on YouTube by AdaHtje.

Also check out the music page at polishtoledo.com.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Polish not Mexican

Despite living in the U.S. for decades an undocumented Polish immigrant was deported by a New Jersey hospital while being treated for a stroke.

Wladyslaw Haniszewski, 69, was treated at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., before he was allegedly transported without his consent to a hospital in the Polish town of Boleslawiec, according to the New York Daily News.

The deportation has reportedly angered Polish diplomats.

Seton Hall Law professor Lori Nessel, interviewed by the Daily News about Haniszwekski, called the case "incredibly disturbing." "This kind of action seems clearly illegal and also not ethical, but it's hard to bring a legal action," according to the legal expert.

I treat Mexicans one way, Poles another

Polish Raspberries

Poland became the world's largest raspberry producer in 2012 displacing Serbia by over 25,000 metric tons and exporting around 90% of its crop. 

The main reason Poland shot up to become #1 was the introduction of the “Polana” variety, which yields fruit for several months of the year. Another growth factor was EU subsidies launched in 2007 for growing soft fruit. Poland's raspberry fields grew to over 69,000 acres.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Australia wants Poland as close ally

The Australian government recognizing Poland as Europe's rising star has a desire to draw Poland more deeply into Asia and to ally with the folks down-under concerning global economic and security issues. The two governments have agreed to hold a foreign and defense ministers' joint meeting next year.

The Australian strategic assessment is that Poland is a rising power in Europe and set to be a leading player within European politics. Both the US and Britain are encouraging Poland to take more of a global role.

Poland is experiencing sustained high economic growth, has a stable government and society, and is producing genuine European leaders for high positions in the EU. Its European strategy is predicated on its intense political partnership with Germany and to some extent it is trying to achieve a status not wholly dissimilar to that of France.

Poland is also pushing its foreign policy beyond Europe and is competing for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2018-19. More importantly, it is almost the only European nation with a rising defence budget and has a strong history of contributing to peace-keeping and Western coalition military deployments.