What was the sex life of Poles like in socialist times? What sorts of observations could a Vodou shaman from Haiti have about communist Poland in the era of martial law? What do Vodou rituals have in common with the regime of General Jaruzelski?
The year is 1980. Poland is overcome by both an economic and a political crisis. Dullness dominates in a country where the confines of the political system and religious education might be expected to cultivate none other than a nation of prudes. At this point in time the great theatre reformer Jerzy Grotowski brings a group of Haitian players to Poland. Among them is the young Vodou priest Amon Cazalen, who has Polish blood running through his veins. His ancestors were soldiers of the Polish legion from the times of Napoleon. They settled on this island of the New World at the beginning of the 19th Century. Amon is fascinated by the land of his forefathers and decides to remain a while longer to get to know his ancestral home, while at the same time making an effort to open the hearts and minds of the Poles. When martial law bears down on Polish society on December 13, 1981, Amon conducts a series of rituals aimed at chasing evil spirits out of the soul of General Jaruzelski. The priest is certain that the stiff posture of the General and his bloodshot eyes are a sign that his soul has been infiltrated by a particularly evil demon, the Baron Samedi.
The latest documentary from Oscar-nominated directors Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosołowski is a playful depiction of a clash of cultures. When the newcomer from the New World takes a look at Poland in AD 1980, he sees a lot more than the average Pole was able to see. Were Poles really among the most miserable nations in the world? If so then why did their hearts blaze so brightly in matters related to love and romance? Amon Cazalen's mystical gaze reveals many aspects of the Polish soul in a playful way, full of surprising conclusions.
The documentary The Art of Disappearing adopts a novel technique for posing questions about the Polish soul under the oppressive weight of the socialist authorities, manipulated by outside powers, trapped within the confines of mental and cultural oppression which they have submitted to. In spite of all this, as the "Polish Vodou Priest" surmises, Poles are a nation capable of maintaining an optimistic outlook, of opening their hearts and enjoying life.
The film is part of the Guide to the Poles - a series of documentary films produced within the framework of the International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency 2011.
Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosołowski form an exceptionally talented duo of today's generation of young Polish cinema. Their 2009 documentary debut "Rabbit à la Berlin" won a number of international film awards and was nominated for an Oscar in 2010. The film takes a humorous look at the history of wild rabbits stuck in the no man's land between the two foundations of the Berlin wall. With no predators to disrupt their day-to-day existence, they live a carefree life as the population expands, undeterred for over 28 years. Until the day the wall is toppled and the rabbits must once again face up to the harsh realities of urban life.
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