From the Project | Research journeys
Chybie: Almost three weeks lasted the research stay in July 2021 in Chybie, the headquarters of AKF “Klaps”, the first amateur film club in a village. In the village of Chybie in southern Poland with today 3,700 inhabitants, not far from the Czech and Slovak borders. The club was considered a producer of an “erotic provincial cinema” in the PR of Poland, was very successful at national and international amateur film festivals, and was the venue of the feature film festival for amateurs “Fabuła” (“Fiction”), initiated by its members in the early 1970s, which became an important meeting place for AKFs from all over Poland, including professional directors. The jury participation of Krzysztof Kieślowski in 1977 led to a long-lasting connection of the later world-famous director with “Klaps” and its director Franciszek Dzida, who was the model for Kieślowski’s protagonist in the feature film “Amator” (“Film Amateur”, 1979). “Klaps” is one of the few clubs that survived the transformation period unscathed and documented its own history very well. On the portal “Gminne Archiwum Cyfrowe” (Local Digital Archive), the holdings of its film archive, compiled and preserved for 50 years (8mm, 16mm and video films, photographs, negatives, etc.), have just been processed, digitized, secured and made available free of charge, including over 70 documentaries alone. About 40 feature films are to follow shortly.
The current director of the AKF “Klaps” and the local culture house, Gminny Ośrodek Kultury (GOK) in Chybie, Rafał Cymorek, and his colleague Anna Zachurzok allowed Margarete Wach and her colleague Cäcilia Wosnitzka access to the entire club archive (documents, statutes, correspondence, invitations, Posters, chronicles, photos and the extensive film archive with around 120 films and 10 documentaries about “Klaps” and Franciszek Dzida).
A group discussion with the still living “Klaps” members of the first hour took place during their weekly meeting on every second Tuesday of the month.
On July 17, the researchers also attended the 22nd Film Picnic at the Chybie Municipal Amphitheater, where the club’s productions are presented.
In the second week, a visit was made to the club’s magazine, where, among other things, the posters and printed announcements of the “Fabuła” festival, individual films and other events are stored during the current renovation of the club’s premises. During a comprehensive review of this visual archive material, Anna Zachurzok guided Margarete Wach through the holdings.
In the same week Margarete Wach conducted several individual interviews with the “Klaps” members who had been active in various functions in the club since it was founded in 1969. Jan Dzida, cameraman and often co-author of several films by his brother Franciszek Dzida, showed Margarete Wach his photographic work on this occasion, including large-format portraits of the amateur actresses in their joint films from the 1970s.
In conversation with Kazimierz Pudełko, one of the club’s co-founders alongside Franciszek Dzida and Józef Orawiec, the main focus was on his participation as a lay actor and protagonist in many of his colleagues’ films.
Thanks to Danuta Ryszka, who was responsible for the organization of the “Fabuła” film festival and most of the club’s events for decades, Margarete Wach was able to obtain information on the institutional, administrative and socio-political background in the history of “Klaps” as well as how to deal with the Film censorship received.
With Barbara Lach, Margarete Wach was able to interview the only woman in the clubs history who has made two films as a director, “Zabawy” (“Games”, 1970s) and “Kasztany” (“Kastanien”, 1970).
more informations concerning AKF “Klaps”: here.
During the interviews in Chybie a visual travel diary was created by Cäcilia Wosnitzka, who recorded our interview partners and their key statements in drawn portraits:
Warszawa 1: The first stay in Warsaw in May/June 2021 served to explore the archives of Filmoteka Narodowa/National Film Archive (FN) and Narodowy Institut Audiowizualny/ National Audiovisual Institute (NInA), which were recently merged into FINA, Filmoteka Narodowa – Institut Audiowizualny. While in Filmoteka Narodowa important documents, chronicles, books and original posters of the amateur film festivals of the research period could be lifted, it turned out that Audiovisual Institute has not yet evaluated collections of amateur films, which will be sifted during the next stay.
Through the mediation of the doyen of Polish documentary film, Marcel Łoziński, Margarete Wach conducted interviews in Warsaw with two renowned documentarians whose works revolve around archival finds and amateur films. Maciej Drygas launched the project “Polskie Archiwum Filmów Domowych“/ “Polish Archive of Home Movies” in collaboration with the Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej/Museum of Contemporary Art in Warsaw and uses amateur films in his own found footage films. Maciej Cuske initiated the creation of a regional film archive in his hometown of Bydgoszcz, where amateur films lifted in Bydgoszcz from the 1930s to the present are digitized and placed in the online archive with available information – “Bydgoszcz na taśmie” / “Bydgoszcz on Celluloid”. Both archives contain invaluable amateur film material, which still awaits scientific processing.
As a result of the artistic research project “Entuzjaści z Amatorskich Klubów Filmowych” / “The Enthusiasts” by Marysia Lewandowska and Neil Cummings and the exhibition of the same name in 2004 at CSW Warszawa/Centre of Contemporary Art, the Archiwum Entuzjastów/The Enthusiasts Archive was created, located as an online archive on the website of Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej/Museum of Contemporary Art in Warsaw. The archive contains over 50 amateur films from a dozen amateur film clubs, photographs, documents, posters, and other artifacts of visual culture, as well as photo documentation of the exhibition at the CWS, which until 2006 was still presented in London, Berlin, and Barcelona, and is also documented at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. It was possible to enter into a cooperation with the Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej in Warsaw and the Polish-British artist Marysia Lewandowska in order to be able to explore/use her archival material from the exhibition and the amateur films from the Enthusiast Archive in the project.
In an interview with the internationally renowned director and producer Krzysztof Zanussi, Margarete Wach asked him about his beginnings in various Warsaw amateur film clubs in the 2nd half of the 1950s and in particular about his work in the AKF “Nowa Huta” in the socialist planned city of Nowa Huta in the early 1960s, which led him in a roundabout way to film studies in Łódź and into the film industry.
Konin: In May 2021, the visit to AKF “Muza” in Konin took place, whose artistic director, Andrzej Moś, gave Margarete Wach a two-day interview, presented the club’s photo, document and film archive, and provided digitized amateur films, photos and crowns for evaluation within the project.
On this occasion, an interview (in polish language) was made by Joanna Sypniewska, responsible for press relations of Koniński Dom Kultury (Konin House of Culture), with Margarete Wach about her research project on the amateur film movement in Poland.
Poznań 1 + 2: During the research stays in Poznań 2020 and 2021 Dr. Margarete Wach conducted interviews with the members of the Amateur Film Club AKF “AWA”. Among them were Prof. Dr. Mikołaj Jazdon (Institute of Film, Media and Audiovisual Arts /Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań), filmmakers, cinematographers and film lecturers Piotr Majdrowicz and Janusz Piwowarski as well as media scientist Prof. Dr. Marcin Adamczak (Institute of Cultural Studies/Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, Łódź Film School).
Further rounds of talks resulted in sighting the private amateur film collection of Piotr Majdrowicz and lifting archival material with Janusz Piwowarski in the archive of AKF “AWA” in Centrum Kultury/Cultural Center “Zamek” in Poznań Imperial Castle. Marcin Kęszycki, actor and since 1979 member of the legendary alternative theater “Teatr Ósmego Dnia” (Theater of the Eighth Day), who was one of the co-founders of AKF “AWA” in 1971, could be asked in a further interview about the beginnings of the amateur film movement in Poznań and its covert surveillance by state security organs.