Ironically, short films have become the modern-day short stories of old as once told in Reader’s Digest or by Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story.” Not only is Lukasz Pater’s animated short, Polonia, the story of his family’s harrowing escape from communist Poland, but…
In August of 1980, the Polish State had recognized the independent Polish Trade Union. In December of 1981, Poland’s communist government attempted to demolish Solidarity by imposing martial law and imprisoning its leaders.
Two of those leaders were a mineworker and Solidarity’s press spokesman, Zdzislaw Strzelec. The other was Kazimierz Pater, vice-chairman of the Medical Workers Union, who became its leader when the original chairperson went on vacation and never came back.
The story of the Pater and Strzelec families is told through recorded interviews with family members accompanied by a series of mixed media, primarily through Lukasz Pater and Modungoa Sebokholi’s animations.
“…Poland’s communist government attempted to demolish Solidarity by imposing martial law and imprisoning its leaders.”
As the story goes, Pater and Strzelec were arrested by the Polish “Gestapo” and sent to prison. Their wives and children worked feverishly to find them. Over the months, the pair were expected to be sent to Siberia, but support grew, and the prison officials helped find escape for them and their families to the West.
And now the rest of the story… Once they found freedom, the Pater and Strzelec fell from a world of communist gray to the colorful world of the West. Soon, optimistic naivete would wash over as the families were given the run of the country…until reality finally set in.
Lukasz Pater’s use of mixed media in Polonia is an ingenious way of telling the story of his family’s journey to America. His pencil-drawn characters and backgrounds are fun and vibrant, and his use of retro photos and stock backgrounds brings poignancy to this family’s transition from East to West.
At the heart of Polonia are the recorded interviews with the parents. The recordings are not of the highest quality, but they are good enough to remind us what life was like during the Cold War, along with that colorful taste of freedom.
"…told through recorded interviews with family members accompanied by a series of mixed media..."