Welcome to another edition of culture roundup. This week, we comment on government subsidies for Polish culture and have a look at yet another cinematic superproduction, this time by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. A few cultural announcements follow.
In this week's cultural round-up section we have:
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The Polish parliament, or the Sejm, decided on the final amount of money that Poland's budget to be allocated to local government cultural institutions. The sum is PLN 132. 6 million (USD 30 million), of which 12 million (USD 2.75 million) will go to supporting the controversial Kraców 2000 Festival.
Another flashpoint of the MPs' discussion was the way in which PLN nine million (USD 2 million) was to be divided in order to subsidize Polish libraries which are notoriously (but not surprisingly) the in red. The Ministry of Culture wanted to distribute the money among 16 voivodships along the principle of the more money a voivodship spent on books last year, the more money it will get in 2000.
MPs in turn argued that it will mean the poorer regions will be punished with getting less money because they could not afford buying books last year - which would only worsen their already unsatisfactory cultural state. The Ministry of Culture backed down a little on this issue and promised to form a reserve for the poorest libraries.
Following in the footsteps of Jerzy Hoffman and recent Oscar winner Andrzej Wajda, film director Jerzy Kawalerowicz is going to shoot yet another Polish cinema superproduction based on a literary classic. For the second time the literary source will have been provided by Henryk Sienkiewicz (as it was in the case of Hoffman's Ogniem i mieczem).
Kawalerowicz is shortly to film Quo Vadis?, a Nobel prize winning novel from 1896, depicting Roman society in the times of emperor Nero. Shooting of the film begins on 8 May in Tunisia and then, after four weeks, scenes will be filmed in France and Poland. 28 October is the planned date for finishing the shooting and the premiere will take place in September 2001.
The cast has already been completed with such names as Bogusław Linda, Michał Bajor, Jerzy Trela, Danuta Stenka and Krzysztof Majchrzak. The antique strongman Ursus will be played by judo world champion Rafał Kubacki. Quo Vadis? will be the biggest Polish cinema production to date with a budget of USD 12 million.
Jerzy Kawalerowicz has long been attracted to historic novels as a film material. In the 1970s he made Faraon (The Pharaoh) based on Bolesław Prus's novel. The film won international acclaim and was even nominated for an Oscar.
To find out more about Polish literary classics on celluloid, read Wojtek Kość's article on Wajda's Pan Tadeusz or Andrew James Horton's article on Hoffman's Ogniem i mieczem and nationalism in film.
Max Ernst's and Joan Miro's surrealist graphics can be seen at Łódż City History Museum from 10 April till 21 May and after that date the exhibition will travel to Wrocław and Katowice. More info: 0048 42 654 0033.
The so-called metaphysical painting of Alberto Savini can be seen at an exhibition in Kraców's National Museum from 11 April till 31 May. More info: 0048 12 634 33 77
Wojtek Kość, 21 April 2000