Institute of Reportage: Freedom TV - questionnaire


Waldemar Płocharski, vice-president of VIDEO STUDIO GDAŃSK, a protagonist of “Freedom TV”, an article by Magdalena Szkarłat, answers questions prepared by students of the Polish School of Reportage.

Name, age: Waldemar “Artu” Płocharski, born 1956. “Artu” comes from the robot R2D2 in "Star Wars". Some say it’s because I was a coward, but I wasn’t a coward. As an employee of the Gdańsk University of Technology, I simply didn’t have a choice at the time.

Place of birth: Olsztyn.

My place today: Gdańsk.

I am a… filmmaker. I think I’ve achieved something in this field, certainly in terms of quantity. As a director and producer, I created the series "Tapes, Witnesses, and History", where we mix old footage and contemporary interviews with the heroes of the eighties: Rulewski, Borusewicz, Lis. I also took part in several feature film productions, such as one with the working title "To Kill Wałęsa", which was finally changed to "Players". I edited all the archival footage.

I make… films. I still make films. Nowadays, movies are a completely new challenge and involve a different kind of technology. HD is coming in, and you constantly have to learn new things. Contemporary movies are filled with special effects and graphics. They’re more gaudy, frivolous, and flickering, and attempt to draw the viewer in by any means possible. I’m used to films that employ words and impressions, films that give you pause. Biographical film-making was once a very rewarding job, because the people we talked about were charming. We made a film about Irena Krzywicka where we almost never cut away from her face. It was just her talking to the camera for 75 minutes, and she was so interesting that you couldn’t take your eyes off her.

I will be… retired in five years. I’ll still make movies, or perhaps I’ll do something in the media that will allow to take advantage of my experience.

Culture is… development and the world. Culture is something that makes a person human, rather than a machine.

Poland is… an amazing country that requires great care.

Europe is… our home.

My environment ends… I don’t think it ever ends. I’ve traveled all over the world and I find it fascinating. I recently went to China to see the country that is trying to transform our entire civilization in its own way. I traveled from Shanghai to Tibet, which is completely different and is a testament to what would have happened to us had we not had the spirit of freedom. I understood that if it weren’t for that spirit, the Soviet system would have done to us what the Chinese have done to the Tibetans.

What I do is important because… it has an effect on people. Here at VSG, we’ve always tried to make our productions worthwhile, to use our documentaries to convey concepts, ideas, and truths about the world and about ourselves. I would like people to be changed by our films.

A movie that has recently impacted me very profoundly was… "Avatar", for technical reasons, of course. There’s nothing new about the movie in terms of concept. Everthing’s based on the ten commandments and old Hollywood clichés. But it’s amazing how technology now lets us create whatever worlds or impressions we can imagine.

A book that has recently impacted me very profoundly was… "It’s my Path", a biography of Jacek Kaczmarski. There was a time in our lives when our paths crossed. We were friends in university. He wrote songs, and I recorded them. I found the book shocking. If you look at someone’s life from a particular point of view — a short life, an unfairly short life — I find it surprising that Jacek, with all of his talent, could have made the kind of mistakes he made in his life.

My biggest influence is… John Paul II. It sounds banal, but it’s the truth. He spoke to us so beautifully.

This year I'd like to… make films and travel.

In five years I'd like to… just travel, perhaps. What’s complicated about documentaries is that you need to have cultural institutions that will fund documentary film-making, and you need to have an audience. That used to be public television, which has since fallen into crisis. Recently, the European Solidarity Center became that audience. We tried to talk about an ethos, about ideas. The European projects we take part in now are more about promoting ideas than making actual documentaries.

Translated by Arthur Barys

This questionnaire is a supplement to “Freedom TV”, an article written by Magdalena Szkarłat as part of a series of reportages on grassroots cultural/social initiatives in various Polish cities. They were created especially for ECC by students of the Polish School of Reportage established at the Institute of Reportage in Warsaw.

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TAGS: Gdańsk, Video Studio Gdańsk, Institute of Reportage, Polish School of Reportage, Waldemar Płocharski