COMMUNISM: The banality of evil in communist-era Poland explored through archive footage of secret police audio and film recordings.
Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic.
Published date: May 27, 2020

Tomasz Wolski’s impressive short film, which had its World Premiere at the online version of Switzerland’s Visions du Réel late April and is now screening in competition at Poland’s Krakow Film Festival, is likely to be compulsive viewing in its home country.

Found footage

An Ordinary Country is entirely made up of carefully – and cleverly – edited footage from the 1960s-1980s shot by Poland’s secret service, as they went about their business of catching ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities the communist state deemed criminal.

Here is a litany of grainy black and white visions of often shabbily dressed Poles coming and going from crumbling, unkempt buildings, and being caught for crimes of trying to find a little joy in a state who dictated that poverty for all (except the fat cat officials, of course) was the ultimate aim of socialism.

There is the drab middle-aged housewife – probably not much more than 40, but looking older – questioned about how much she paid for various household appliances, and how she could afford them on the money her husband, who worked …

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