The Carpathian Film Trail features films which are set in the borderlands between the Małopolska Voivodeship and the Prešov Region and thus correspond to the cultural and artistic heritage of that region. The films have been classified into two fundamental categories – feature films and documentary films. Many a film aficionado finds discovering the genuine locations of their favourite films to be an entertaining and rewarding activity. One nationwide example of taking advantage of film tourism in Poland is the website polskanafilmowo.pl.
The following description includes both Polish and Slovak motion pictures. They are frequently evidence of how much these two countries have in common. It is true for the legends of the highwayman Jánošík, for instance, which are part of both the Polish and Slovak heritage. The trail features such popular films as Juraj Jakubisko’s Tisícrocná vcela (A Thousand-Year-Old Bee), but it by no means excludes the pictures which are more underground, but still a must-see, a perfect example of the excellent documentary being W Nowicy na końcu świata (In Nowica at the End of the World) by Natasza Ziółkowska-Kurczuk.
The second building block of the Carpathian Film Trail is providing the profiles of the people of the cinema who are somehow connected with the said borderlands region. These include the creators (directors, actors, screenwriters) who were born here, and sometimes worked here as well. Each artiste has been assigned to the town he was born in.
2006 Fanaa, directed by Kunal Kohli
Bollywood is the popular term for the biggest Indian cinematography centre, located in Mumbai. As early as in the 1960s, the Hindi-language film industry churned out more pictures than the one in America. Today, the Indian motion picture industry is the biggest in the world.
Bollywood productions have very distinctive features – they usually include several-hours’-long, flamboyant spectacles with over-the-top acting. Typically, they contain song and dance elements, like in musicals to which Western viewers have grown accustomed. Bollywood blockbusters are mostly melodramas, often with a tinge of an action film.
The same goes for the 2006 Fanaa film. Some scenes are set in Kashmir, where the main character is from. Due to the terrorist attack threat, the crew gave up filming in that location, and moved near Kościelisko and Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains.
Fanaa is a flagship Bollywood picture – colourful and melodramatic. Directed by Kunal Kohli, it stars the most popular Indian actors – Aamir Khan and Kajol. The Polish viewer will be most satisfied with the view of Tatras ‘playing the part of’ the mountains of Kashmir, and of a wooden highlander cottage with very familiar-looking architecture.
Production - India
Directed by Kunal Kohli
Written by Shibani Bathija
Cinematography - Ravi K. Chandran
Outdoor filming locations - India, the Chochołowska Valley, Siwa Polana (the Gray Glade), Polana Biały Potok (the Biały Potok Glade), the Lejowa Valley
Kajol – Zooni Ali Beg
Aamir Khan – Rehan Quadri
Pavol Barabáš made several documentary films about the Tatra Mountains. The most popular ones include the 2003 Tatry mystérium (The Tatras, a Mystery), the 2007 Vysoké Tatry - divocina zamrznuta v case, and the 2009 Ticho nad oblakami (Silence above the Clouds). He is a filmmaker who loves mountains and knows how to talk about them with an extraordinary sensitivity. His films transport the viewer into the world of the Tatra peaks and its invariably captivating scenery.
The same is true for Vysoké Tatry - divocina zamrznuta v case, where the lead role is played by the flora and fauna of the Tatras.
Reportedly, the word ‘Tatry’ itself used to denote a strip of rocks. The Tatras were once a quite inaccessible area, hostile to man. Due to the legends and superstitions passed down from generation to generation, people were reluctant to venture into the unknown of the Tatra woods, fearing the danger. After all, the Tatras were the kingdom of animals.
In his picture, Barabáš spins tales about various Tatra animal species. Although they prey on one another, even the fittest animal cannot defeat man, who remains the biggest threat. And man is the one who has to do everything he can to prevent this world from perishing. The film constitutes a manifesto with a clear-cut final message - it is up to us whether the wild world of Tatras remains frozen in time or not.
Production - Austria, Germany, Slovakia
Directed by Pavol Barabáš
Written by Pavol Barabáš
Cinematography - Tomáš Hulík
Outdoor filming locations - the Tatra Mountains
2008 Wino truskawkowe (Strawberry Wine), directed by Dariusz Jabłoński
Wino truskawkowe by Dariusz Jabłoński is set in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship. Most scenes were shot in the village of Jaśliska in the Lower Beskids. Because part of the material was filmed in the Magura National Park, located on the border between the Małopolska and Podkarpackie Voivodeships, and the Jaśliska borders with the Prešov Region, Wino truskawkowe should be featured in the Carpathian Film Trail.
The motion picture is the adaptation of Andrzej Stasiuk’s Opowieści galicyjskie (Tales of Galicia). The portrayal of a Beskid village, which lives by its own long-standing rules and traditions, proves the existence of the Slavic magical realism. The village is a timeless place, whose inhabitants lead their lives according to their own rhythm and standards.
As befits a magical place, the village of Żłobiska also has its local beauty – a black-haired Slovak girl. She is the only woman in the film’s typically man’s world.
The magic of the on-screen village located somewhere in the forgotten Lower Beskids encourages us to visit this place. It is all the more worth a trip as the Lower Beskids are the least-frequented and at the same time of the most beautiful Polish mountains.
Production - Poland, Slovakia
Directed by Dariusz Jabłoński
Written by Andrzej Stasiuk, Dariusz Jabłoński
Cinematography - Tomasz Michałowski
Outdoor filming locations - the Jaśliska village, the area around Krosno, Dukla, the Magura National Park
Zuzana Fialov‡ - Lubica
Marian Dziędziel – Kościejny
Jerzy Radzwiłowicz – Priest
Maciej Stuhr – Janek
2008 Slepé lásky (Blind Loves), directed by Juraj Lehotský
The documentary Slepé lásky tells the story of the love of the blind in a funny and affectionate way. It contains four separate stories.
The first story is about a married couple. Peter is a music teacher at a school in Lewocza and is preparing the children to perform during the upcoming concert. The second story presents a couple – Miro, a Romani, is in love with Monika. Her parents, however, do not accept their relationship. The third story portrays a married couple expecting a baby. They are wondering if the baby is going to be blind too, and if so, how they are going to tackle the new responsibilities. The final story is about a blind teenager Zuzanna, who meets a boy on line, but is afraid to tell him about her disability.
The director’s patient observation guides us through the film until its end. Intertwining the four stories, Lehotský presents the final performance of Peter’s students, reveals that Elena’s child can see, Miro and Monika choose to be together despite the difficulties, and that Zuzanna is still dreaming about perfect love.
Lehotský’s work has been noticed outside Slovakia too. The film won the award of the International Confederation of European Art Cinemas (CICAE) in Cannes. Juraj Chlpík, the film’s cinematographer, received Special Mention in the Feature Documentary Films Competition at the Camerimage Festival.
Production - Slovakia
Directed by Juraj Lehotský
Written by Marek Leščák, Juraj Lehotský
Cinematography - Juraj Chlpík
Outdoor filming locations - Levoča, Nováky, Trenčín, Zvolen, Unín, Tučepi (Croatia)
2009 Janosik. Prawdziwa historia (The True Story of Janosik and Uhorcik), directed by Agnieszka Holland, Katarzyna Adamik
An attempt to match a legend is never an easy one. The directors of Janosik. Prawdziwa historia had to face a double challenge – firstly, they decided to verify the legend of the hero; secondly, they wanted to tackle the additional myth created by Passendorfer and the role model that Marek Perepeczko personified.
Janosik was an outlaw, sentenced to death at the age of twenty three and hanged on a hook in 1713. The real Juraj Jánošík was a Slovak. However, his national identity seems to be of secondary importance. Three hundred years ago, national awareness in the Carpathian Mountains was not as clear as it is today. Above all, Jánošík was a highlander. Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian highlanders used to co-exist and had their own separate culture. They had more in common with one another than with the nations they came from.
There is a shift of emphasis when it comes to the perception of Jánošík that exists in our culture. He still robs the well-off to give the valuables to the poor; however, now he redistributes the spoils only when he feels like it. What is left of the story about Jánošík? Luckily, the legend is still there, contrary to the title.
Written by Eva Borušovičová
Cinematography Martin Atriba
Václav Jiráček – Janosik
Ivan Martinka - Uhorczyk
Danuta Szaflarska – Janosik’s grandmother
2009 W Nowicy na końcu świata (In Nowica at the End of the World), directed by Natasza Ziółkowska – Kurczuk
The Polish part of the Lemkivshchyna covered the area from the Wysoki Dział range in the Bieszczady to the Poprad Valley in the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, and the so-called Ruś Szlachtowska region on the borderland between the Little Pieniny mountain range and the Beskid Sądecki. On the Slovak side of the border, it spanned a stretch of Beskids. Lemkos are the East Slavic, Ruthenian ethnic group. In 2005 in Poland, the Lemko language was officially recognised as a minority language. Polish Lemkos belong to the Eastern Orthodox or Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
In 1947, the majority of Lemkos inhabiting the south of Poland were resettled as part of the Vistula Operation. Due to the resettlement, some of the towns and villages in the Lower Beskids ceased to exist. Nowica, a small village in the Uście Gorlickie commune, is one of those which survived.
Divided into four parts named after the seasons of the year, the documentary by Natasza Ziółkowska-Kurczuk depicts Nowica, its indigenous Lemko inhabitants, and the newcomers who decided to settle there, delighted with the peaceful atmosphere of the quiet mountain village. Before the Vistula Operation, Nowica had more than two hundred houses there. Today, together with the neighbouring Przysłup, this number has fallen to slightly above thirty. The film is a must-see for all Lower Beskids lovers.
Production - Poland
Directed by Natasza Ziółkowska – Kurczuk
Written by Natasza Ziółkowska – Kurczuk
Cinematography - Tomasz Madejski, Tomasz Michałowski
Outdoor filming locations - Nowica
2009 Na każde wezwanie Naczelnika (At Every Call), directed by Anna Maria Filipow
“(...) at every call of the Head or his Deputy – regardless of the time of year, day, or weather – I solemnly swear I will appear at a specific location and time, suitably equipped for action, and to go to the mountains according to the itinerary and instructions of the Head or his Deputy in order to search for missing persons and to come to their rescue” a fragment of the oath taken by each newly-recruited member of the TOPR (The Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue) inspired the title of the film, which was created to celebrate the centenary of the organisation.
The idea to establish the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue dates back to 1908. The organisation was meant to be modelled on the one in the Alps. The TOPR was registered on 29 October 1909.
The film by Anna Maria Filipow depicts the story of the TOPR team. It mentions the most difficult yet successful rescue actions, but also focusses on certain tragic accidents, for example Klemens Bachleda’s (one of the first rescuers) death on the job or the W-3 Sokół helicopter crash, which killed four people – two pilots (Bogusław Arendarczyk and Janusz Rybicki) and two rescuers (Janusz Kubica and Stanisław Mateja). This moving documentary also features the most dramatic avalanche in the history of the Polish Tatras, which claimed eight victims – high-school students from Tychy.
Production - Poland
Directed by Anna Maria Filipow
Written by Wojciech Fusek
Cinematography - Andrzej Skoczylas, Łukasz Rzepka, Bartek Serafiński
Outdoor filming locations - Zakopane, the Tatra Mountains
2010 – 2012 Szpilki na Giewoncie, directed by Robert Wichrowski, Filip Zylbert, Radosław Piwowarski
Feature film, TV series
This TV series tells the story of a Warsaw-born young woman who gets forcibly transferred to the Zakopane branch office by the company she is working for. Sadly, the show offers neither a gripping plot nor intriguing characters, and its only asset is the stunning pictures of the Tatra Mountains and Zakopane.
The clash between Warsaw and Zakopane is exaggerated and black-and-white. The portrayal of Podhale seems a million miles away from the reality of the capital. Zakopane is as pretty as a picture, but far from the truth – the highlanders wear traditional clothes and speak a local dialect totally unintelligible to the incomers from other parts of Poland.
A couple of years ago, the Americans made Northern Exposure – today a real classic. The basic idea was similar – a young New Yorker born and bred comes to Alaska, where he is forced to work and live. Like in Szpilki na Giewoncie, he is there against his will. Gradually, however, both characters start to appreciate the small-town charm. So much for the similarities, though, for Northern Exposure depicts a cultural gap which is actually there, whereas in the Polish TV show these cultural differences are unnecessarily exaggerated and unreal.
Production - Poland
Directed by Robert Wichrowski, Filip Zylbert, Radosław Piwowarski
Written by Radosław Figura, Paweł Trześniowski, Anita Nawrocka, and others.
Cinematography - Jacek Fabrowicz, Dominik Struss, and others.
Outdoor filming locations - Zakopane, Warsaw
Magdalena Schejbal – Ewa Drawska
Krzysztof Wieszczek – Bartłomiej Bachleda
Jan Wieczorkowski – Mateusz Rybicki
Billy Wilder – Sucha Beskidzka / Poland
Born in 1906 in Sucha Beskidzka, Samuel (Billy) Wilder, one of the most popular American filmmakers, spent his childhood in Vienna, then moved to Berlin, where he continued his career in journalism and took up screenwriting. He collaborated with Siodmak on the feature People on Sunday and with Lamprecht on Reporter and Z rozkazu księżniczki (~The Princes’s Order).
After the Nazis seized power in 1933, he relocated to Paris and then to the United States. It was in Hollywood where he shot his greatest masterpieces, Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend, now constituting an iconic part of the cinema’s history. The latter earned Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Actor, securing him a leading position among the Hollywood big names.
Wilder won another Academy Award for Best Director for one of the most beautiful meta-films – Sunset Boulevard. Other Wilder’s motion pictures were also smash hits The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, and the Best Picture and Best Director film The Apartment. Billy Wilder died in 2002 in Beverly Hills.
Although he spent only the first few years of his life in Sucha Beskidzka, the town paid tribute to the filmmaker by naming one of its streets after him in 1996.
Selected filmography (director)
1944 Double Indemnity
1945 The Lost Weekend
1950 Sunset Boulevard
1955 The Seven Year Itch
1957 Witness for the Prosecution
1959 Some Like It Hot
1960 The Apartment
1981 Buddy Buddy
Danuta Szaflarska - Kosarzyska/Poland
Born in 1915 in the Kosarzyska village near Piwniczna-Zdrój, Danuta Szaflarska is one of the greatest Polish actresses of the post-war cinema. In 1939, she graduated from the National Institute of Theatre Arts (now The Aleksander Zelwerowicz State Theatre Academy). She appears both on the silver screen and on stage.
Her big-screen debut was in 1946 when she starred in two films Dwie godziny by Józef Wyszomirski and Stanisław Wohl, and Zakazane piosenki by Leonard Buczkowski. Her role in another critically-acclaimed picture by Buczkowski – Skarb – made Szaflarska one of the most popular post-war Polish film stars.
Her oeuvre spans several dozen films, the most popular of which include Dziś w nocy umrze miasto by Jan Rybkowski, Ludzie z Pociągu by Kazimierz Kutz, Dolina Issy by Tadeusz Konwicki, Andrzej Wajda’s Korczak, and Dorota Kędzierzawska’s Diabły, diabły). Despite her advanced age, Danuta Szaflarska is still professionally active. Recently, she gave a powerful performance in Kędzierzawska’s picture Pora Umierać. In 2009, she starred as Janosik’s grandmother in the most recent interpretation of the famous legend filmed by Agnieszka Holland and Katarzyna Adamik - Janosik. Prawdziwa historia.
1946 Zakazane piosenki (Forbidden Songs)
1946 Dwie godziny (Two Hours)
1948 Skarb (The Treasure)
1956 Zemsta (The Revenge)
1961 Dziś w nocy umrze miasto (Tonight a City will Die)
1961 Ludzie z pociągu (Night Train)
1982 Dolina Issy (Issa Valley)
1991 Pożegnanie z Marią (Farewell to Maria)
1989 Nic (Nothing)
1999 Tydzień z życia mężczyzny (A Week in the Life of a Man)
2000 Żółty szalik (The Yellow Scarf)
2001 Listy miłosne (Love Letters)
2007 Pora umierać (Time to Die)
2009 Janosik. Prawdziwa historia (The True Story of Janosik and Uhorcik)
Julian Józef Antoniszczak (born Julian Józef Antonisz) – Nowy Sącz / Poland
Born on 8 November 1941 in Nowy Sącz, Julian Józef Antoniszczak was one of the most interesting creators of animated films in Poland. He was an animator, composer, inventor, and visual artist. In 1965, he graduated from the Faculty of Painting and Graphic Arts at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts.
He co-founded the Kraków Studio of Animated Films, where he unwaveringly created his pictures with the non-camera technique of drawing or painting the images directly onto the film tape.
His 1967 debut film Fobia is a ten-minute non-camera animation. His most prominent works include Jak działa jamniczek from 1971, …Te wspaniałe bąbelki w tych pulsujących limfocytach from 1973, and many editions of Polska Kronika Non-Camerowa, developed for many successive years.
Repeatedly awarded both in Poland and abroad, Antonish died on 31 January 1987 in Lubań near Myślenice. His life is portrayed in Krzysztof Gradowski’s film Non camera.
1967 Fobia (The Phobia) – director
1971 Jak działa jamniczek (How a Sausage Dog Works) – director, music
1973 …Te wspaniałe bąbelki w tych pulsujących limfocytach (The Marvellous Bubbles in the Throbbing Lymphocytes) – director, writer, set decoration, music
1978 Ludzie więdną jak liście… (People Wither Like Leaves...) - director, music
1979 Ostry film zaangażowany. Non camera (Sharp Involved Film. A Non-Camera) – director, music
1981 Polska Kronika Non – Camerowa nr 1 (The Polish Non-Camera Newsreel No. 1) – director, music
1985 Polska Kronika Non – Camerowa nr 8. 1983 Wydanie A (The Polish Non-Camera Newsreel No. 8, 1983, Edition A) – director