Andrzej Wajda – Politician – film director (190/222)
I think that within a short time, Poland has transformed itself into a different country. Culture has probably come off worst in this. It had been organised into vast institutions of culture which transformed very slowly and to this day, even though 12, 13 years have gone by, these institutions remain, such as theatres, ponderous, resembling museums, because not enough of the spirit of enterprise entered them. Too few theatres putting on performances at their own cost were created. There weren’t enough museums which had sprung up out of the heartfelt need of private individuals. In short, we played a minor role here, but this was because people of culture, and particularly of the theatre, hadn’t participated in martial law – they’d distanced themselves saying, ‘We don’t want to be involved!’ Because of this, the new economic changes had to pass them by because the actors couldn’t be harmed since they’d only just been supporting the opposition with their strong characters and their desperation. Yet everything else was shaped then. I participated in those elections, I took part in those events and I think that I fulfilled my role. Of course, I could have said, but why should I, a film director, suddenly be involved in these events instead of making a film about them? But this was the tradition in Poland, that artists would at some point become directly involved. I don’t want to compare myself with our great poet Adam Mickiewicz, but towards the end of his life, Mickiewicz joined the Legions marching on Turkey as war with Russia was imminent. So our great artist left Paris to join the army because Polish volunteers were forming Polish units in order to begin a war for freedom. Others behaved in the same way, so this tradition that an arist is an artist up to a point, after which he must prove his credibility with his life, by engaging his person on the proper side was quite obvious to me. However, what came next was that reality entered at the moment when there were free elections. Society chose the person they wanted. It wasn’t because I was bored that I refrained from standing for election as senator for a second term. Had there been a need for it, I would still be in parliament. But I suddenly understood that the electorate which had elected me the first time would now be looking for someone else to represent them, someone from among themselves. That’s when I understood that if I’m to continue playing any kind of role it’s to be as a film director only, making films which somehow will accompany the things that were happening in Poland. Along with freedom, many features returned and not just the good ones, not just the freedom of initiative because this is what we’d been counting on the most, that Poles are enterprising, they won’t just be sitting back and waiting but that they’ll act and will use all of their energy to rebuild the Poland which the communists had brought to total ruin over 40 years, or at least its economy. However, this turned out to be harder, more complex, it turned out that it was more difficult to transform this industry that had served the Soviet Union’s armament programme into an industry of peace, that it’s hard to get hold of the capital, that a nationalist opposition appeared which began to voice fears that we’ll be bought out, sold off, that everything’s going in the wrong direction; I regained my faith in the common sense of this people when on 5-6 June of this year Poles voted ‘yes’ in the referendum on the European Union. I breathed a sigh of relief and decided that at critical moments, society regains its reason and makes the right and proper decisions. So this moment is hugely important, therefore in my new film I think the action will take place on precisely that day, that night when our fate is being decided as to whether we’ll join, and what the Polish people will say – yes or no.