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УДК 791.4 + 791.2
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DOI: 10.30628/1994-9529-2019-15.3-89-103

ANNA SAJEWICZ
Jagiellonian University
Krakow, Poland
ORCID:0000-0002-8041-0047
e-mail: anna.sajewicz@gmail.com

 

IN SEARCH OF A NEW GAZE. IMAGE OF RUSSIA IN CONTEMPORARY POLISH DOCUMENTARY CINEMA

Abstract. The article analyses the image of Russia in contemporary Polish documentary cinema. Russians are a nation disliked by the overwhelming majority of Poles. There is a derogatory Polish word, rusek, which refers to all inhabitants of the former Soviet Union regardless of their current citizenship.
For 65% of Poles, Russia is a threat to their national security. On the one hand, the image of Russia and Russians in mass media and cinema influences generation of stereotypes but on the other hand, the filmmakers’ notions are impacted by stereotypes well-established in Polish minds. Russia—Poland.
A New Gaze project—a series of Polish and Russian documentary films shot by students of leading Polish and Russian film schools—sparked a massive public outcry. This project made it possible to understand how the two neighboring countries view each other. Film directors belong to the generation born in the 1980’s that is supposedly free of prejudice against Russia, since it grew up in the already democratic Poland. Taking into consideration the films’ artistic means and the ideological message, the majority of them confirms the stereotypes about Russia. Some of the directors explore urban spaces and find their characters among New Russians, passengers of elektrichka suburban train or inhabitants of a communal flat, but stylistically these films are closer to television broadcasts than to a full-fledged auteur statement.
Films by W. Kasperski, R. Skalski and M. Sauter are the exceptions, with their original style and interesting visual language. They are more interested in the periphery: Kasperski and Sauter shot their films far from big cities—in a remote house in the Altai Mountains (The Seeds) or in a taiga village (The First Day). Upon completion of Russia—Poland. A New Gaze project, some of the directors went back to Russia to shoot their next films: Kasperski, in a mental health institution in Siberia; Stasik, in Cadet School in Penza. It is worth mentioning one of the most successful Polish documentary films in recent years—Over the Limit by Marta Prus, devoted to a time-honored Russian phenomenon of rhythmic gymnastics.

Keywords: stereotype, documentary cinema, Polish-Russian relations, new gaze, Russia