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“We need people, who have the ethos of truth.” Agnieszka Holland at the 17th edition of the TOFIFEST International Film Festival

photo: Wojtek Szabelski / szabelski.com

The eighth day of the Festival was abundant with meetings featuring great luminaries of cinema. One of such guests was Agnieszka Holland, the meeting with who followed after the screening of Mr. Jones. The film director was awarded the Golden Angel for Artistic Insolence just a day before. Łukasz Maciejewski was a moderator of the meeting. The small hall at the Cultural and Congress Centre Jordanki gathered crowds of people.

There are many troubling things happening around. They lead to feeling insecure, and insecurity is the fuel for aggression. The meeting started with a reflection on the condition of contemporary journalism and the role of cinema in the forming of social awareness. Mass media are far too often just tools of propaganda, and nobody is interested in finding the truth. In the era of fake news, which is so easy to produce and then used to manipulate, it takes no trouble to create an alternative reality and manipulate it. We need people, who have the ethos of truth and the courage to follow this path. We need journalists we can trust. Democracy will not be able to withstand without them, said the film director.

During the meeting, somebody from the audience inquired about the role cinema could play in such circumstances. Do films have the power to change the reality? Agnieszka Holland admitted that films could carry a message inspiring people to open their eyes to the things happening around them, but films must be made at the right time and seen by attentive viewers. It is good that we are still able to meet, talk, and sit here without smartphones in our hands. A film is powerful enough to change the reality only when the audience is open to it.

The meeting took place directly after the screening of Mr. Jones, the latest film made by Agnieszka Holland. In the film, we follow an investigation carried out by Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist, who was one of the few foreigners witnessing Holodomor, a great man-made famine that befell Ukraine in the 1930s. Gareth Jones was murdered in 1935. People present in the room asked questions about the film and the issue of national remembrance. For Ukraine, the Holodomor is a trauma they have not yet worked through. Nobody offered any therapy. These emotions are still very much present. I hope that my film will help them to overcome the trauma a little, confessed the film director.

People from the audience asked Agnieszka Holland about other potential historical characters she could make films about. Would it be possible to make a film about Edward Snowden, the famous whistle-blower from America? Agnieszka Holland admitted that rebellious journalists faithful to their principles were characters close to her heart. When asked about her new project, a film titled Charlatan, focusing on the life of Jan Mikolasek, a Czech healer. It is too early for me to talk about it.

Agnieszka Holland talked very warmly about the Czech Republic, the country she feels is her second homeland, which also includes the perspective of filmmaking. Prague is almost as beautiful as Torun, she added at the end of the meeting. It is a perfect city for a film festival. It feel great to be able to meet you all here.

Angelika Jasiulewicz

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