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Home > Screenings > LOOKSfilm > Solidarnosc - How Solidarity Changed Europe

Director: Ania Szczepańska

Producer: Christin Schutta

Executive Producer: Gunnar Dedio

Writer: Ania Szczepańska

Genres: Documentary, Factual


In the post-war era, the Polish People's Republic initially was a model pupil of the Soviet Union. During the 1960s and 70s, however, the Polish people started to deviate noticeably from the Communist course and made their dissatisfaction known. A power struggle with the state ensued. In the summer of 1980, emboldened by the visit of the first Polish pope, John Paul II, the workers of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk called a strike.

In this documentary, Ania Szczepanska sheds light on how a prohibited workers' movement lead to the emergence of the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtain: it bore the name Solidarność (Solidarity) and set itself against the Communist regime. The film's perspective is very much that of the workers, who were supported by the Catholic church and oppositional intellectuals.

Out of fear of losing control, the Polish government had its citizens monitored and filmed at every turn. For its part, Solidarność sought the support of documentary film makers and international journalists. The ideologies collided in a war of images. But even the declaration of martial law could no longer stem the tide of change in Poland.

Solidarność supporters and the cameramen who accompanied them are interviewed in this film, as is a member of the Communist governing party. Furthermore, the famous Polish director Agnieszka Holland, and Basil Kerski, Director of the European Solidarność Centre in Gdansk, look back, from today's perspective, on this chapter in Polish history which is said to have changed Europe for ever – with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 serving as the finale of this revolution from below.

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