Terugblik film screening & discussion ‘By the River’

On Thursday the 1st of September, PBI organized a film screening and discussion on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights in Poland together with our current Shelter City guest Marta Lempart. Marta also took part in the discussion after the film, together with Agata Korycka, director and screenwriter of ‘By the River’.

Lizzy Anjel-van Dijk opened the evening with a short introduction of the work of Peace Brigades International and the importance of the work of human rights defenders. She highlighted again, the need of adequate protection of human rights defenders all over the world, considering the threats that they are under. Through organizing this evening, we again asked for awareness of the precarious situation of many human rights defenders, as well as LGBTQ+ and women’s rights.

The movie ‘By the River’ (2020) told the love story of a policewoman, Kinga, in Poland. This story is set against the backdrop of extreme right-wing protests, reminding us that queer love and politics are never too far apart. When Kinga falls for another woman, she sets off on a journey not only to soul-searching and self-reflection, but also to social-political awareness.

To find out more about how Marta, we showed a short documentary about her, produced by Adriaan Schuitemaker. This documentary shows the troubles Marta faces in Poland and also the successes of the All-Women Strikes for legal abortion and marriage equality. You can watch the documentary here.

After watching the short documentary, moderator Norine El Ghazi took to the floor with human rights defender and organizer of the Black Monday strikes Marta Lempart, and director and screenwriter of the movie Agata Korycka. Norine asked both guests questions, providing the audience with interesting answers from Agata about how she managed to balance the lightness of the movie against the heavy themes of the movie. Agata highlighted how much of movie is based on true events, with Marta even featuring in it as herself, despite the love story being fictional.

Both Agata and Marta received engaging questions from the audience. Giving them both a platform to discuss the successes they’ve had on topics such as abortion, marriage equality and women’s rights in a country such as Poland, yet insisting there is a long way to. Inspiring the audience with their perseverance, and answering questions about who to vote for – as Marta does not want to get into politics, to still bring about change. We would like to thank the audience for asking such stimulating questions and thank Marta and Agata for providing us with fascinating answers!

A special thank you goes out to our photographer Leo Endedijk, who took beautiful pictures throughout the evening, the animators at Krab Amsterdam who made the animation video, Adriaan Schuitemaker, the maker of the short documentary of Marta, and our wonderful volunteers! Last but certainly not least, thank you to our partners Justice & Peace Nederland, the Shelter City project, Human Rights Utrecht, and vfonds.