Filmoteka szkolna inaugurated in Poland

A series of festive opening ceremonies marked the inauguration of Filmoteka szkolna (the School Film Archives), an educational project of the Polish Film Institute (PISF), with activities first in Wrocław and then in Poznań, Lódź, Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk and Lublin.

Under the program, a packet of DVDs containing 55 Polish feature films, documentaries, and animated works is being sent to over 14,000 schools throughout Poland. The packet also contains educational materials on 26 subjects, ranging from history and the Polish language to art and contemporary culture.

“The project is innovative and unique,” said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, who is patron of the program. “The set of films should not replace the school reading list or the canon of Polish film. Rather, it should teach how to watch films, how to approach life’s difficulties, and how to appear in occupational and social roles.”

Agnieszka Odorowicz, General Director of PISF, said the young viewer should be taught to interpret films in the same way as he or she is taught to interpret a literary work.

“It is the aim of Filmoteka szkolna to stimulate young people’s interest and start an important discussion about contemporary Poland: about history, the human condition, and the role of the artist in the modern world,” she explained.

Katarzyna Hall, Minister of National Education, and Michał Merczyński, Director of the National Audiovisual Institute and executive producer of Filmoteka, also took part in the main opening ceremony.


Among special guests were directors and actors such as Małgorzata Szumowska, Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrzej Jakimowski, Filip Bajon, Magdalena Cielecka, Ewa Kasprzyk, Maria Seweryn, Jowita Budnik, Agata Buzek, Piotr Adamczyk, Mirosław Baka, Robert Gonera, Bronisław Wrocławski, Andrzej Chyra, Lesław Żurek, Rafał Mohr, and Arkadiusz Janiczek.

Young people welcomed Filmoteka with enthusiasm. “I watched Canal (Kanal) by Andrzej Wajda twice before I understood all the symbols it contained,” said a junior high school boy from Poznań. “I had the same problems with some other classic works. Now it will be much easier, because the films will become subjects of our lessons at school.”

“There are people with a passion among us who read heaps of books, but the image has a much stronger appeal to us and that’s why we prefer to watch films,” said Ola, a third-year student at a high school in Łódź. “Filmoteka gives us such an opportunity. Whether we like it or not, today’s culture is based on image and so far this hasn’t been included in the teaching program.”

Director Andrzej Jakimowski, whose 2003 film Squint Your Eyes (Zmruz oczy) is on Filmoteka szkolna’s list of films, endorses the goals of the program. “If I were the age of today’s junior high school youth, I am sure I would get interested in this project,” he said during a news conference in Warsaw. “When I was their age, we had to play truant in order to watch films. Now the cinema comes to school.”

In many of the schools where the model lessons took place, there were teachers interested in film, but overall there are not enough lecturers who specialise in the subject. PISF is planning to start a series of training sessions to prepare teachers to make use of Filmoteka szkolna.

The Filmoteka szkolna website is at


Translated by Monika Miziniak | Edited by Patricia Koza