The first auteur film of Sylwester Chęciński, author of the iconic comedy trilogy featuring the Kargul and the Pawlak family, awarded for lifetime achievements with the Platinum Lions (Platynowe Lwy) at the 39th Gdynia Film Festival.
A touching and realistic portrait of people grappling with psychological wounds suffered during the war.
The year 1946. A small village on the Recovered Territories inhabited mostly by former soldiers and their families. The entire community is ruled by the despotic Zenon Bałcz – a commander during the war and a village mayor in the post-war reality, who relentlessly imposes strict and frequently inhuman rules. A young teacher – Agnieszka Żwaniec, striving to offer her students a chance for a better and normal life, opposes his power. Her work is made difficult not only by degenerate veterans but also by local superstitions and inhabitants’ reluctance towards her fuelled by the conviction that the teacher is having an affair with the village mayor. Agnieszka manages to gradually earn respect of the community and becomes popular with children. Her relations with Bałcz also improve. However, a victory over demons of the past comes at a high price: the village mayor, who loses control over his former subordinates and experiences a moral failure, decides to leave the village.
The screenplay was based on Wilhelm Mach’s short story “Za kwadrans wiosna” written in 1960 yet published 18 years later. On the other hand, a ready screenplay inspired Mach to write the novel “Agnieszka, córka Kolumba” published already after the film had been made.
The film won viewers’ and critics’ acclaim, who noticed that it showed the truth about the first years after winning the independence. At the same time, it triggered a strong reaction of veteran and military circles that accused the authors of slandering the soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces. The main opponents of Chęciński’s film included general Zygmunt Berling, general Wojciech Jaruzelski and marshal Michał Żymierski.