Monika Pawluczuk: End of the World

They keep on coming these strong philosophical cinematic essays from Poland. This time one from 2015 that I had not seen, a film that after touring at several American festivals with success has the chance to end up on the Oscar Nomination List for short documentaries. It deserves to be on that list!

On the photo you see one of the faces of the film. One of the faces that react to phone calls from men and women, who want to talk, who seek comfort and understanding of their problems, which normally simply come from loneliness. They call the gentle radio man Kuba. The other face is one of another young man, who takes calls from people in need of immediate medical help. He tries to find out what is wrong, gives advice to those calling on what to do until the ambulance arrives. It is sometimes a more than urgent situation or maybe it is already too late, and sometimes also he gets calls from lonely people. Help needed for the mind and the body.

It sounds very banal and it is on print, but interpreted into a film, within the frame that ”the end of the world” arrives very soon according to the Maya calendar, shot during night time, with dark images with the light coming from inside flats in appartment buildings, mixed in a brilliant montage with images taken from surveillance cameras, images of mostly empty streets, of ”lonely” cars or shot from the ambulance with the radio sound – yes, interpreted into a film that has a tone, and an atmosphere, it becomes an extraordinary documentary about the ordinary. A reflection on ”la condition humaine”.

It sounds very dark but there is also humour and light like when a woman wants to cancel the end of the world as she has experienced love – or the man who wants it to come, to have a new world arrive, where his dogs do not suffer from the noise of the world.

Poland, 2015, 38 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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