There’s an article on Krakow Post’s website today concerning a Pole who has made a film about mixed nationality couples living in Cracow. Have to admit I lap up cross-cultural stories, as regular readers of this blog will know. Something to do with my own British-Polish marriage, perchance? Funnily enough, apparently the film features couples who are from all over the world, not just the British-Polish, French-Polish etc European bias one might expect.
Now – how to say this without sounding up my own proverbial? – the more I read contemporaneous accounts of Polish life, the more they seem to accord with my own observations of a few years back in my book Polska Dotty. So, the film-maker, Krzysztof, says he wanted, amongst other things, to reveal foreigners living in Poland to the older Polish generation, with whom they come into contact so little. The result? Krzysztof’s uncles and aunts tell him he’s living in a different world – though they also tell him they’re happy to see it.
Whilst I don’t wish overly to generalise – though why break the habit of a lifetime!? – this chimes with one of the main themes in Polska Dotty: the generational divide in Poland. By this I don’t just mean the normal such divide – my parents like Glen Miller but I prefer The Killers! – but a shift in mentality. Young Poles, as exemplified by their international relationships, are impressively open, outgoing and tolerant. The older generation – and I have plenty of first-hand experience – remarkably less so.
Is this what Krzysztof implies when he tells of his older relations’ reaction to his film, or am I simply inferring too much? I hazard a guess he is implying something, and that’s a pity, because he says his film also reveals that all foreigners living in Poland wish for is to fit in. I know the feeling!
So what about the future? I believe things will change. I think the older generation – not all, of course – have simply found it difficult to adapt to the freedom and the “anything goes” culture ushered in by the fall of Communism. Who wouldn’t, and who wouldn’t on top of that feel a bitter sense of irony at the dreadful conditions through which they had to live? There are so many complementary factors, too, such as Poland’s well documented racial and religious homogeneity. But let’s make that the subject of another blog! In the meantime, how to catch Krzysztof’s film from over here in UK..?