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Papusza, the mother of all cursed poets


- With this gipsy biography, Joanna and Krzysztof Krauze are back in competition in the International Film Festival of Karlovy Vary where they won a Crystal Globe in 2005 with My Nikifor

Papusza, the mother of all cursed poets

From Papusza [+see also:
interview: Joanna Kos Krauze
film profile
’s first breathtaking image, a wide shot of a gipsy camp in 1910, the black-and-white photography of Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staron raises the aesthetic bar of the film to a level rarely achieved by black-and-white cinema. This last work by Polish couple Joanna and Krzysztof Krauze is a reminder of an often pictural art, a kind of link to My Nikifor [+see also:
film review
film profile
- the story of an unjustly unknown painter - which won the directors a Crystal Globe for Best Film in Karlovy Vary in 2005. After being in the jury last year, they are back in competition in the Czech festival.

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Papusza tells the story of the life of a real character, Bronislawa Wajs (aka Papusza), the first gipsy poet to have been recognized after her work was published in Poland. Rejected by her community who accused her of having betrayed her people’s secrets, Papusza lived through a time of great poverty and abnegation, plagued by guilt until her death.

Filmed in the historic Rom dialect, the film goes back and forth between eras, going back especially to the particularly renowned year of 1949, when Papusza (Jowita Budnik) meets Jerzy Ficowski (Antoni Pawlicki), a «gadjo» (a non-Rom), also a poet, who is welcomed by the gipsy community with whom he lived for two years. Papusza gradually gave her texts to Ficowski, which the author decided to publish later. Through them, the entire gipsy tradition is passed on in works that also bear witness to the life of a woman who never considered herself a poetess, but rather a cursed gipsy whose biggest mistake was to learn how to read. In this respect, Papusza is the mother of all cursed poets since her art cast the evil eye on her family of travelling musicians. Music occupies a particularly important place in this meticulously restored fresco. 

Through the story of the tragic life of a child, sold and married by force to her musician uncle, who escaped the fate Hitler reserved for gipsies, it is the tale of all gipsies that is told through their most significant moments, as when the Polish government forced them to abandon caravans and move into houses. “As long as there are wheels, the gipsy people will travel”, claims the fallen patriarch who shares the sentencing of his wife. Although it did not give her a decent life, history will recognize she was right, even if it took her mind and the poor Papusza descended into madness and isolation until her death in 1987.

Produce by Argomedia – Lambros Ziotas, Papusza was coproduced by the Polish Film Institute, the National Polish Television, Canal+ Polska and the studio KADR.

(Translated from French)

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