The Modjeska Art & Culture Club is honored to present in California a unique film made in 1946, Wielka Droga (The Great Way), with an introduction by Dr. Dorota Lekka from the National Film Archive in Poland. The film tells the story of the soldiers of the Second Corps of the Polish Army under the command of General Wladyslaw Anders, the so-called "Anders' Army." The film contains unique archival materials. The screening will take place on February 4, 2024 at 4:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. (film screening at 5:15 p.m.) in the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga (10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, CA 91042). Admission is free, the number of places is limited. RSVP: email@example.com. After the screening, there will be a discussion and a small reception. The meeting was prepared in cooperation with Jerzy Barankiewicz, the president of the Polish Art Salon in San Diego, where the screening will take place on February 10, 2024.
DR DOROTA LEKKA
Dorota Lekka, PhD,
Head of the International Cooperation Department at Poland's National Film
Archive - Audiovisual Institute. Her responsibilities include the promotion of
Poland's film heritage around the world, as well as coordinating the Archive's
joint projects with international and external institutional partners.
THE GREAT WAY, DIR. MICHAL WASZYNSKI,
ITALY, POLAND, 1946, 87 MIN
The film depicts the fate of an engaged couple separated by various
circumstances of the Second World War: from the siege of Lviv in 1939 to the
formation of Anders’ Army inside the USSR, through its wanderings across Iran,
Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, to the Italian campaign. The most important and
valuable element of the film is its authentic documentary footage, including
the Battle of Monte Cassino, in which the film's protagonist Adam is wounded.
"The Great Way" is more than 75 years old, but has only
relatively recently become known to Polish audiences. The only version of this
film available in Poland to date came into the possession of the National Film
Archive in 1962 from the USA. However, due to its inconvenient themes around
Soviet Russia, the film sat on a shelf for 25 years without ever being shown to
the public. Because it contained numerous authentic recordings showing the life
of the II Corps along the entire route of its march, including drills, participation
in military operations, and preparations for the Battle of Monte Cassino, it
was treated not as a film but documentary footage, with only excerpts of it being
The first screenings of the film in its entirety, though open only to
students, took place in 1988 and 1989 in Katowice and Wroclaw. In April 1991
the film was televised, which was the first time it was shown to the general
public in Poland. It was only then, 45 years after its premiere, that "The
Great Way" came into the consciousness of viewers across the country.
Prepared by the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, the now
reconstructed film "The Great Way" stands as yet another highly
important undertaking aimed at restoring the contributions of Polish filmmakers
to Polish culture and collective memory. It is an act of giving due place in
Polish culture to wartime and later emigrant artists, who, also being soldiers,
shared the wandering fate and inconveniences of frontline conditions with the
II Corps, at the same time, through their talent and the beauty they created, upholding
the national spirit and faith in a return to a free homeland - which many never
lived to see.
The journey of "The Great Way" to audiences in Poland was a
long one. Thanks to the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, today we
have the opportunity to interact with a unique relic of Polish cinematography.
Following the film’s heroes, we symbolically walk the path of the "Great Way"
alongside Anders’ Army.
GENERAL ANDERS AND THE MODJESKA CLUB
The presentation of the film is of special importance to the Club due to the unique information about the Second Corps of the Polish Army of General Władysław Anders, continuing the long-standing traditions of this thematic zone. Among the Club's activists in its first decade were veterans of Anders' Army, poet Kazimierz Cybulski and composer Henry Vars; the latter contributed to the preparation of the American premiere of Roman Maciejewski's Requiem in 1975. The Club presented Vars' music several times at private and public concerts. The first President of the Club, actor-director Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetyński, was a veteran of the Polish Army in France and a friend of Generals: Anders, Bór-Komorowski (godfather of Ossetyński's daughter, Valerie Hunken), and Stanisław Karpiński (commander of Polish pilots in the RAF).
A meeting with Harvey Sarner, author of the book about Anders' Army, General Anders and the Soldiers of the 2nd Army Corps, took place in 1998 (President Edward Piłatowicz). The meeting with the veteran of the Second Corps, paratrooper Marcin Henzel, took place in June 2007 thanks to the efforts of President Dorota Olszewska.
Meetings about the ordeal of Poles deported to Siberia took place in 2004 (the film A Forgotten Odyssey, with the introduction by survivor Kazimerz Cybulski, President Jolanta Zych) and 2016 (meeting with deportees to Siberia, organized by Dorota Olszewska; President Andrew Z. Dowen). A lecture about artists associated with the Second Corps, by prof. Jan Wiktor Sienkiewicz (Anders' Artists), took place in April 2017.
The legendary actress and singer Hanka Ordonówna was also associated with the Second Corps. A play about her, written by prof. Kazimierz Braun, was presented by the Club in November 2013 (Polish Theater in Toronto at Magicopolis in Santa Monica). After leaving the camps in the Soviet Union with the Second Corps, which saved many civilians from the gulag, Ordonka took care of Polish orphans in India and Iran. Both events were held during the term of office of President Andrew Z. Dowen.
General Anders' daughter, Senator Anna Maria Anders, appeared at the Gala Concert celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Regaining Independence in November 2018, co-organized by the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles and our Club at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. Her speech was included in the Polish Album of the 50th Anniversary of the Modjeska Art & Culture Club (ed. Maja Trochimczyk, Elżbieta Kański and Elżbieta Trybuś), published in 2021.
(summary by Maja Trochimczyk)
PHOTOGRAPHS AND SCREENING