The archive does not lie

CONTROL: In Communist Poland, revolt intensifies as workers strike over food price increases while tension builds in the dignitaries’ offices.
Director: Tomasz Wolski
Producer: Anna Gawlita
Country: Poland

Just before Christmas 1970, strikes and protests broke out among shipyard workers and students in Poland’s port cities over shocking food price hikes. As a Finnish consul departed the scene, alarm hit members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs crisis team as they realised, he might have photos of the unrest on him, and would need to be stopped under some false pretence. «Maybe a car accident?» proposed one. «If he has a camera or case, steal them.» The telephone conversation is one of many archive recordings that exist of exchanges between members of the team as they frantically coordinate logistics to quell the public show of dissent.

1970, a film by Tomasz Wolski
1970, a film by Tomasz Wolski

Authoritarian logic

Polish director Tomasz Wolski has brought these recordings to life in 1970, which had its world premiere at Nyon’s Visions du Réel, using stop-motion animation to create puppet-like incarnations of the power players, smoking behind their heavy office curtains as they scheme. Their concern over photographs reminds us that propaganda and having control over the engineering of image was everything to the leaders of this repressive political system. Citizen discontent was only a problem if it was shared and witnessed on a large enough scale to fuel outrage and solidarity or an international public relations embarrassment, according to their . . .

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Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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