Cultural Geography/Documentary

Location: Poland, Kazakhstan
Russian, Polish (English Subtitles)

A reconstruction of the life story of Adolf Januszkiewicz - a political prisoner, somewhat forgotten by the Polish national memory, who was exiled to Siberia in the 19th-century. The film is an attempt to translate the scientific theory into the audiovisual language.

The project's main goal was to explore what, how, and why contemporary Kazakh history preserves memories about a political prisoner Adolf Januszkiewicz sentenced to step over 100 years ago and wrote one of the first descriptions of Central Asian steppes in Polish.
The idea to do a movie came from during my archival research in Kazakhstan for my Ph.D. dissertation. I was astonished that so many people knew Adolf Januszkiewicz there, while it was not the case in his motherland Poland. At the same time, every one of my respondents remembered him very differently and for different reasons. These observations guided me to questions on how written sources shape memory, history, and identity (both nation and individuals). The answer was to follow each story about Januszkiewicz to reconstruct what remains after him.

The main deceiver of my research in general, including the work on the movie, was the gap between the "reality" and its narratives (re)constructions on various levels. First of them was the Oriental perspectives presented in Januszkiewicz's diaries and correspondence. The second the interpretation of his private documents by contemporary readers. And my own research and aims to collect traces and marks of Januszkiewicz in Kazakhstan. As a scientist and as a film-maker the biggest challenge for me was the incompatibility of contemporary reality with the images from the nineteenth-century journey diaries of Polish exile. And how to present this lost and unattainable steppe world.

Review. Beautiful cinematography. I also enjoyed the approach, a film about the process of research, that, by showing the director on camera, made it more personal. I had some troubles following subtitles, mainly at the beginning, which made it more difficult to assimilate the story told. By the end of the film I wanted to know more about Adolf Januszkiewicz.

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