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Documentary Film
61 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Łukasz Długołęcki, Haukur M. Hrafnsson
Paweł Ziemilski
Arni Valur Kristinsson, Martina Bertoni
Filip Drożdż
Dorota Wardęszkiewicz
Paweł Ziemilski, Łukasz Długołęcki, Haukur M. Hrafnsson
Piotr Kubiak, Paweł Szygendowski
On the road to a better life you are inevitably forced to leave many things behind. The Polish village of Stare Juchy is such a left-behind place. Since the 1980s, a third of its population emigrated to Iceland and none of them have returned to date. The relatives who stayed in Poland – usually the emigrants’ parents and grandparents – participate via Skype and Facebook in the lives of those who left. They rarely manage to visit each other. In the village, which is still getting emptier, time stands still and its inhabitants become the observers of events far from their surroundings. Their children have careers as police officers or construction managers, their grandchildren sing Icelandic pop songs, and they themselves have no choice but to report on the weather or the mushroom harvest. Every so often, a tentative missing feeling, even a menacing longing, creeps into the conversations. The hope for a reunion dies last.

Paweł Ziemilski uses sequences shot in Iceland that he projects on every imaginable surface in the Polish village. Thus polar lights shine in the living room, a grandfather plays football with his grandson’s image and a gym becomes an icy coast. This aesthetic trick emphasizes the melancholy and absurdity of a situation in which the supposedly better and the supposedly worse life are closely interlinked.

Kim Busch