Warsaw Talents 2019 – “Our Little Poland”

Our Little Poland by Matej Bobrik
Reviewed by Lemana Filandra
Reviewed by Svetlana Semenchuk

Our Little Poland

A possibility for finding a shared sense of personal aspirations, fears, doubts, insecurity, and loss between young people coming from different cultures is explored in Matej Bobrik’s documentary Our Little Poland (2019). You can see it both as an intimate insight into the process of a Japanese group of Polish language students staging Faust and as a meditation on language as a way of establishing trails of meaningful connections in the sphere of everyday interactions.

Bobrik offers long dialectic shots of students conversing over lunch while cherry blossom trees are undergoing a change of their own too. The conversations on societal expectations, future employment and love are reflections accumulated during exhausting hours of commuting. The film draws its energy from the constant process of advancing further. Glassy metro shots of sleepy commuters are accompanied by a student’s voice-over protesting against passive engagement in life. These tiny visual  interruptions to the slow-paced narration also incorporate elements of windows, mirrors, and frames.

The story of the Polish department is a method of showing the uneasiness experienced in the face of a sea of choices that one has to make to move forward an inevitable part of anyone’s coming-of-age experience. It represents a discussion on purposefulness of actions that are done out of a sense of personal satisfaction. You can take it as a lesson from an imaginary life guide on finding your way through the period that comes after a long-awaited goal is finally being reached.

Lemana Filandra
Warsaw Critics’ Project 2019

The whole world in Our Little Poland

The documentary film Our little Poland, directed by Matej Bobrik, follows a small group of Japanese teenagers studying Polish. The film is narrated by a student who travels on a train and reflects on her experiences in studying the foreign language and culture.

It’s heartwarming to see how Japanese students try to pronounce Polish words, how hard it is to overcome that, how they start to communicate more and be among the best students who will be able to go to Poland for a month after finishing their second year of study. 

Even though some students are wondering if they’ll need Polish in the future, they understand this experience is more than acquiring useful knowledge. They put on a theatrical production in Polish, which reveals the dominance of national culture, in the process of getting to know each other and themselves.

Globalism has not eliminated differences and discoveries, but efforts and genuine interest must be made to find them. Confrontation with another culture, with different rules and principles through resistance opens up the breadth of this world for the film’s subjects in all its incomprehensibility.

The title of the film deceives the viewer’s expectations. There are no Polish cities or attractions at all. At the center of the documentary are people and a personal view of the country – a personal Poland.

While at first glance, the film only seems to be a simple story about the study of the exotic language by the Japanese. In fact, it shows how growing up, opens up the students’ horizons.

Svetlana Semenchuk
Warsaw Critics Project 2019