Legendary Polish actors return to the screen
A film entitled Before the Twilight (Jeszcze nie wieczór) by Jacek Bławut, about the beauty and dignity of old age, drew an emotional reception when it was viewed in the Sejm on 3 December 2009.
Many actors starring in the film were present at the screening: Nina Andrycz, Irena Kwiatkowska, Zofia Perczyńska, Ewa Krasnodębska, Zofia Wilczyńska, Witold Skaruch, and Jan Nowicki.
Agnieszka Odorowicz, General Director of the Polish Film Institute (PISF), explains the origin of the film:
“A few months ago I experienced a wonderfully touching moment which I will remember until the last days of my life,” she said. “It was the welcome accorded Jacek Bławut’s film Before the Twilight“.
“This outstanding documentary filmmaker appeared last year in the Institute with a project for which he had been trying to collect funds for 11 years,” she recalled. “Everybody he had appealed to tried to convince him that it isn’t possible to create a good plot out of these stories, that they were at the most materials for a documentary film.
“However, I was positive about the film on the spot and considered such production as a challenge: a film with legendary Polish actors who haven’t appeared on the screen for years, whose photographs we don’t see in magazines, whose everyday occupation is unknown for us. We decided to produce this film with further help from television.
“Even in my biggest dreams I didn’t expect such a tremendous effect,” Odorowicz said. “Jurors in Gdynia must have felt the same way; they awarded the film the Srebrne Lwy (Silver Lion Prize). The film tells about the dignity and beauty of old age, and shows that if one retains humanity, life can be beautiful until the last days.”
The plot takes place in the Veteran Actors’ Home in Skolimów. Current boarders play the roles, mainly of themselves. They have a visitor – the legendary Big Shar (Jan Nowicki) – who suggests they begin rehearsals in order to stage “Faust”. Despite their advanced age and poor health, the characters accept this offer with hope.
Since Bławut was forced to wait 11 years to produce the film, there were many changes in the cast and script. Several people for whom roles were written had died. Irena Malkiewicz, once a great lady of the theatre and since forgotten, and Leon Niemczyk were to play one of the main couples in the film.
However, the director replaced them with Beata Tyszkiewicz and Jan Nowicki, rejuvenating the cast.
“I replaced Leon Niemczyk, an extraordinary person in Polish cinematography,” said Nowicki. “A few years ago when we were coming back from Szczecin, he told me about his role in this project. He had nearly all of the scenes planned and he said that maybe he would arrange at least a small episode for me. Yet life turned out differently. I took over his role in the actors’ relay race of generations.”
Zofia Wilczyńska and Ewa Krasnodębska were both enthusiastic about the film, saying the director splendidly interlaced their own stories with the script. Nina Andrycz said she regretted that out of several hours of filming, slightly over 90 minutes remained. She said she hoped that perhaps it would be possible to create a longer television version.
The Sejm meeting was conducted by Jerzy Fedorowicz, Deputy Chairman of the Culture and Media Committee.
Translated by Monika Miziniak | Edited by Patricia Koza