by PGSA member Abbey Brewer
My cousin, Agata Zalewska, is the Film Collection Manager for Filmoteka Narodowa, the Polish National Film Archives in Warsaw. As a state cultural institution, Filmoteka Narodowa is charged with protecting national cultural heritage in cinematography and dissemination of film culture.
Since its inception in 1955, the Archives has been collecting and restoring all films made in Poland with the hope of finding copies of all films. It has an almost complete collection of films made from 1946 forward. Of course more early silent films are missing than later films.
As Polish Americans, we can be proud of the work Filmoteka Narodowa has done in preserving Polish cultural heritage. Today it has one of the largest film archives in Europe. It has restored 75% of Polish feature films made between 1930 and 1939. It is a member of the International Federation of Film Archives. Besides films, Filmoteka Narodowa has extensive collections of promotional materials, books, posters, stills and other materials related to films. It makes its materials available in its Library, through movie showings and festivals and lending, and through the production of print and digital media.
For instance, Agata gifted me with one of Filmoteka Narodowa’s publication of a DVD containing six restored shorts and an introduction about the early days of World War II for Poland especially Warsaw. It was very well done and included an English version with subtitles.
Agata’s interest at Filmoteka Narodowa is in finding missing Polish films. Although it has become harder and harder to find films and in many ways it is a race against time, Filmoteka Narodowa keeps turning up a gem here and there. There is no telling where a film, full-length, documentary or short, may be found. For instance in the late 1990s, a 1929 film was found in the Royal Archives in Brussels; and in 2003 a 1914 film was purchased from Filmmuseum, Amsterdam. I believe others have been found in private collections stored away in attics and forgotten.
If you have any materials that would be of interest to Filmoteka Narodowa, know where any are or might be, would you please contact me or Agata?
Abbey H. Brewer
1422 E. Brooklake Drive
Houston, Texas 77077 USA
ul. Puławska 61