Papusza is based on the true story of the Roma poet Bronisława Wajs (1908-‐1987). The film follows Papusza’s life from birth to old age: arranged marriage as a small girl, her life in a gypsy tabor before, during and after second world war, then forced settlement in communist Poland and urban life in poverty. Her meeting with the Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski, who discovered her great talent for poetry and published her works led to a tragic paradox: a famous poet was living in poverty, rejected by the Roma community for betraying their secrets.
With beautiful monochrome photography, Papusza gives insight into the Roma way of life, soon to be swept away by WWII and the following communist regime. Speaking mostly in Roma language, the ensemble of actors includes mostly non-‐professionals from Roma families.
Grand Jury’s special Mention, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Audience Award, Open Horizons, Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Best Director, Youth Jury Prize & Best Actor – Valladolid International Film Festival
Rotterdam International Film Festival
London International Film Festival
Now Available on Curzon Home Cinema
Krzysztof Krauze (b. 1953, Warsaw) studied photography in Łodż (1978) and worked as a director for both Se-Ma-For and Irzykowski studios, and also with TOR (1985-91). For his feature debut New York, 4 AM (1988) he won the Bronze Lion at the festival in Gdansk, where he later won the Special Jury Prize for Street Games (1996). He won a series of awards for The Debt (1999) – Golden Lions and the Critics’ Award in Gdynia, the Eagle Award for Best Direction and Screenplay of the Year, and Best Direction at the Philadelphia IFF. He enjoyed international success (incl. the Crystal Globe at KVIFF 2005 and a Golden Hugo at the Chicago IFF) for My Nikifor (2004), co-written with his wife Joanna Kos-Krauze (b. 1972, Olsztyn), who also co-wrote and co-directed the films Savior’s Square (2005 – Golden Lions at Gdynia and competition screening at KVIFF 2007) and Papusza (2013). (Karlovy Vary 2013 Catalogue).
Krzysztof Krauze passed away on 24 December 2014. Read a longer biography here.
Feature-length films made in collaboration
Plac Zbawiciela (Saviour Square) – 2006
Mój Nikifor (My Nikifor) – 2004
Dług (Debt) – 1999
Jowita Budnik (Papusza)
Antoni Pawlicki (Jerzy Ficowski)
Zbigniew Waleryś (Dionizy – Papusza’s husband)
Artur Steranko (Czarnecki)
DIRECTED BY Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze
SCREENPLAY Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze
CINEMATOGRAPHY Krzysztof Ptak, Wojciech Staron
RODUCTION DESIGN Anna Wunderlich COSTUME DESIGN Barbara Sikorska-Bouffał
SOUND Mateusz Adamczyk, Jarosław Bajdowski, Sebastian Witkowski
EDITING Krzysztof Szpetmański
MUSIC JanKanty Pawluśkiewicz
PRODUCED BY Argomedia sp. z o.o., Lambros Ziotas
PRODUCTION COMPANIES Telewizja Polska S.A., Canal+ Polska & Studio Filmowe KADR
|131 minutes Cert 15|
"This exquisitely shot film of Polish Roma poet Bronislawa Wajs, nicknamed Papusza...The filmakers have gone to exhaustive length to recreate the lost word of the Roma people. It is very beautiful to look at...
In its attention to landscape, its extraordinary detailed mise en scene and its surrealist flights, the film has the feel of an old Tarkovsky movie."
Geoffrey Macnab, THE i NEWSPAPER
"Papusza is an exquisitely crafted biography with lush black-and-white photography and a superb performance from Jowita Budnik.
A sombre but impressive production."
Allan Hunter, THE DAILY EXPRESS
"Papusza' offers a glimpse into the world of Bronislawa Wajs (Jowita Budnik), known as Papusza, the first Roma poet. Framed within a series of stunning monochrome portraits it reveals the Roma world, fiercely independent, secretive and isolated with an inbred distrust of gadjo (strangers, non-Roma), that was no place for a self-educated woman with a love of the written word. A disappearing world skilfully captured by cinematographer Krzysztof Ptak."
Clive Botting, HUFFINGTON POST
“Striking portrait of a Polish- Roma poet...this selection of moments from the life of Bronislawa Wajs is gorgeous to behold.
The black and white cinematography is gorgeous. Strikingly beautiful…"
Wendy Ide, THE GUARDIAN
"Shot in stunning black and white, this is an enthralling drama...
Its stark cinematography fives a fascinating insight into the Roma way of life...But, above all Papusza is about an inspirational woman who was ahead of her times."
‘Spanning most of the 20th century, this slow but ravishingly beautiful biopic commemorates the life and works of Bronislawa Wajs, the first publicly feted female poet from Poland’s traveling gypsy minority...a ravishing visual poem...Shot in exquisite monochrome by Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staron, every frame is a painterly masterclass in light and shadow….'
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
‘Some of the most spectacular black and white camera work in recent years’.
Dan Fainaru, Screen International
'The film escapes excessive stylization; one won’t find a trace of forced artiness in it. Its greatest advantage – just like in the case of Papusza’s poems – turns out to be its painstaking coarseness, the inconspicuousness, behind which veiled are the notable questions that escape the story of the poet herself, and which direct our attention to the essence of otherness in general – and to the essence of art. (…) Papusza’s tone is far from patronizing, the film challenges stereotypes and prejudices, but it also shows that we can only come closer to the 'other', Roma, side, to a certain extent'.
Paweł Feli, Gazeta Wyborcza
'The lively culture of the Roma and their closeness to nature are shown in impressive landscape scenes, as in shots of the caravans on the move through bucolic countrysides or when the band sets up a camp and market outside a traditional church.'
Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, Observations on Film Art