ROK FRANKA W. – A YEAR OF FRANKA W. (1967)
Director: Kazimierz Karabasz
Music: Jerzy Wojciechowski
Cinematography: Stanisław Niedbalski
Cast: Franciszek Wróbel
In 1967 Documentarist Karabasz released one of Poland’s most defining documentaries. Beginning his career in the mid 1950s during the aftermath of Stalin’s death, Karabasz worked on several documentaries during the Black Series, a term used to identify documentaries made during a time of decreased censorship that began to separate them from Social Realism. While many directors at this time would use the documentaries as a form to shed light on Socialism and its faults, Karabasz instead turned the camera on normal individuals to highlight their humanity. Normally, censors would view these films as aesthetik des hässlichen. Later on in Karabasz’s career he would go on to become a premier theorist on film, teaching at National Film School of Łódź. Karabasz continues to teach a style of film that focuses on the unique ways that sound can be used to enhance the documentary experience while focusing on removing staging, speed, and sensationalism.
ROK FRANKA W. focuses on one year of a Polish teenager’s enlistment in a volunteer youth work force in Silesia. The documentary begins in Autumn as he starts his training on the railway, and later his forced military service and technical schooling. As the year progresses we learn about Franciszek’s through scenes from his life, along with a diary he is asked to keep by Karabasz. Franciszek quickly becomes an adult over the year in 1967 while changing technical jobs, dating young girls, and learning to save his money. What works so well in this film is the calmness Franciszek has in front of the camera, which gives the viewer a feeling authenticity. Overall, it is a unique slice of life of a 19-year-old boy moving from his small village to the industrial area of Silesia. Karabasz would return in 2005 to again focus on the life Franciszek in the documentary PAN FRANCISZEK.
Other important works directed by Karabasz include:
GDZIE DIABEŁ MÓWI DOBRANOC (1956)
LUDZIE Z PUSTEGO OBSZARU (1957)
NA PROGU (1965)
PRÓBA MATERII (1981)
W PIERWSZEJ FAZIE LOTU (2001)