IDFA - I Don't Know & Koma

I Don't Know
Krzysztof Kieslowski (PL, 1977) 47'

A Polish whistleblower revealed corruption at a leather factory. This is the testimony of a man who turned against the system he was once part of.

Director Krzysztof Kieslowski gives a voice to a Polish whistleblower who revealed crimes and corruption involving local Communist Party leaders. During the 1950s, he was appointed manager of a leather factory in Silesia. There he came across shady practices such as selling stolen goods and claiming expenses for fictitious business trips. But the moment he started to investigate, he was accused of theft and fired, and subsequently even threatened with violence. Unbeknownst to him, he had become Public Enemy No. 1. All of this culminated in a nervous breakdown and his being committed to a psychiatric institution. Now, the only thing that matters to him is a clear conscience.

Kieslowski’s seldom-screened documentary is the testimony of a man who eventually turned against the system he had initially been an enthusiastic part of. Kieslowski had great doubts about releasing the film, as he was afraid of putting the whistleblower in even greater danger. To protect him, he included the sound of a typewriter at the moments when people are named.

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Koma
Nijole Adomenaite and Boris Gorlov (RU, 1989) 62'

In the inhumane Gulag camps, which are depicted with brutal realism, Maria will have to choose between her child and the man she loves.

It’s the early 1950s, the height of mass repression in the Soviet Union. Maria lives in a women’s labor camp in the ice-cold north of Russia, more widely known as a Gulag. She was arrested after reading a poem by the reactionary poet Tsvetaeva at a student party. In this inhumane place, she will not only have to endure many forms of violation, but will also eventually have to choose between her child and the man she loves. If a poem could land a regular girl in jail, tomorrow it could be anyone.

Filmmakers Nijole Adomenaite and Boris Gorlov subtly hint at the fact that what looks like an extreme was actually a very real possibility for every person living during Soviet times. The harsh reality of the Stalinist labor camps is depicted without embellishment to drive the point home. Full of the horrors that were inherent in the era of Stalinism, Koma shows the effects of this regime on the people living under it.

(idfa)