Wołyń [Volhynia] 2016, dir. Wojciech Smarzowski, drama/history, Poland, 150 min, VO, ENG sub
Cast: Michalina Łabacz, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Tomasz Sapryk, Jacek Braciak, Filip Pławiak.
One of the largest productions of the Polish cinema in recent years, Volhynia is the latest, long-awaited film by Wojtek Smarzowski, whose previous strikingfilms The Wedding, The Dark House, Rose, Traffic Department and The Mighty Angel were all presented at CinEast. The film depicts the tragic episode of the ethnic cleansing that erupted in the summer of 1943 in Volhynia, which is very little known outside Poland. Zofia lives in a small village inhabited by Ukrainians, Poles and Jews. She is in love with the Ukrainian boy Petro, but her parents force her to marry a much older, rich widower. Through the girl's eyes, we witness the unfolding events triggered by the outbreak of the 2nd World War. The life of the village is first affected by the Soviet and then by the Nazi occupation. Throughout 1941-42, Germans and their accomplices murder local Jews. Meanwhile, Ukrainian hopes for establishing an independent state keep growing, and so does the tension between Polish and Ukrainian neighbours. The situation escalates into horrific massacres and Zofia has to struggle to save her own life and her children.
Volhynia is meant to be a warning against the dangers of nationalism, reminding us of what a man obsessed with an ideology and having means at his disposal is capable of. And yet, Volhynia is also a story about love – love that conquers all barriers in inhuman times.
Warning: The film includes drastic scenes of extreme violence.