‘Welcome to Life!’ pulled from Warsaw fest

Banned 1997 film about Amway blocked due to court battle

In a year when Poles are commemorating the 20th anni of their freedom from Communist rule, a film that has been banned for 12 years is generating doubt about how far that freedom extends.

Helmer Henryk Dederko’s “Welcome to Life!,” a docu about the practices of U.S. direct-sales empire Amway in the Polish market, was due to unspool at the Warsaw Film Festival, which ran Oct. 9-18. But the pic was pulled at the last minute by its producer, pubcaster TV Poland.

TV Poland rep Daniel Jablonski says the station could “not grant permission for the presentation of the film … because of unfinished legal proceedings.”

The 1997 doc had been banned by a local court after Amway filed suit, claiming it was defamatory.

Amway Poland corporate affairs supervisor Anna Wieraszko says its lawsuit against TV Poland, which holds the pic’s copyright, and Contra Studio, the production shingle, is pending. Amway seeks a symbolic $3,000 compensation.

Fest director Stefan Laudyn wrote an open letter to fest auds Oct. 13, lamenting the last-minute reversal and saying that the withdrawal of the docu is an assault on freedom of expression.

At the very least, the legal wrangling could renew interest in the film. Filesharing demand for “Welcome,” already popular in local underground screenings, is expected to rise.

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