Polish helmer Andrzej Wajda is one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers, having received kudos at Berlin, Cannes, Venice and an honorary Oscar. His latest film, “Walesa: Man of Hope,” screens at the Toronto Film Festival.
“Walesa” is a portrait of former dockworker, Solidarity founder and Polish president Lech Walesa. It was the most difficult subject Wajda has tackled in a career encompassing more than 50 films over 60 years, he says. Why?
“I had to face the issue of reconciling feature scenes with documentary footage of that time. How history was making Lech into the person he, eventually, became and how Walesa was making history,” Wajda says. “Those events may not be so distant, but today’s cinema audiences live in a different world, so another difficulty to overcome is the question: How much of what they see will they understand?”
Wajda has said he would like the film to reach the younger audience, in particular. What would he like them to know about Walesa and this period?
“Not only in the history of Poland is Lech Walesa an exceptional figure: a worker who confronts the hardest political issues of his time, wins victory and helps regain freedom and independence in our country,” he says. “I think combining feature and documentary film devices is something that young viewers are familiar with and will find interesting, while the movie’s main characters, Lech and (his wife) Danuta, should also constitute an interesting example of that period’s reality, so different from what they are used to now.”