Television theatre, as is implied in its name, should rely on adaptations of scripts written for the theatre.
The difficulty with the present state of affairs is that there is no legislation on the sources of funding for the Polish film industry. There is no legislation concerning filmmaking. And, there is no legislation on television that would be beneficial to filmmaking.
On the one hand, young theatre directors were coming to television theatre, because they wanted to get closer to the cinema, despite having studied and worked for the theatre.
Suddenly, the screens were dominated by American entertainment to the extent of something like 95 percent. As a result, audiences turned away from the kinds of films that we used to make.
In the same period, Polish literature also underwent some significant changes. From social-political literature, which had a great tradition and strong motivation to be that way, Polish literature changed its focus to a psychological rather than a social one.
A novelty in Polish filmmaking was that it was possible to find funds for a big production. However, at the same time, the state budget committed less and less money to filmmaking.
There is no filmmaking legislation because distributors are not interested in sharing their money with the film industry – for instance, by giving a percentage of ticket sales back to filmmakers.
Why does there exist a global American entertainment industry, but there isn’t an equivalent coming from France or Italy? This is the case simply because the English language opens the whole world to the American cinema.
One might have thought that the most significant change in the film industry that would come about with a transition from the communist economy to capitalism would fundamentally concern the sources of funding.
With it adult political audiences abandoned cinemas. In their place appeared a void. That previous political audience migrated to the seats in front of their TV.
Eventually, the state’s funding covered only the stages leading to presenting a film project to potential funding bodies. It was enough to produce a script, indicate casting and put together a budget to present it all, but nothing beyond that.
In the first years after the systemic transition, our screens showed American entertainment that had not been available before, or had been available only sporadically.
On the one hand, we had great filmic spectacles that brought in big audiences, adults as well as primary and secondary school students. On the other hand, there were attempts to create contemporary Polish film.
We expected that people were just waiting for the collapse of the Soviet Union, or at least for its retreat, and they were going to be full of initiative in all areas of life – in culture, in economy and in politics.
Language also encodes our past. We want to know who we are. To know who we are, we have to know who we used to be. Consequently, our literature, written in the past, anchors us in that past.
The difficulty of writing a good theatre play set in new reality was even greater given that the level of similitude to life that is allowed in a film would not work on the stage.
In Europe, there is no television filmmaking legislation that could assist film production because private broadcasters are not interested in supporting Polish film.
When a film is created, it is created in a language, which is not only about words, but also the way that very language encodes our perception of the world, our understanding of it.
In the forty years of the people’s republic, some of the worst historical traits were preserved in our people. These included even the common characteristics developed in the economic reality of the time of partitions in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Previously the same Polish audiences would have been pressured into seeing cinema made for adults, films made by us about those spheres of life that were significant for us and which should be significant for our society.
Nevertheless, in the theatre, and in the cinema, the contemporary reality of Poland has been represented only to a minuscule degree in the last 12 years.
In the first years after 1989, films were partly financed from the state’s budget as well as by public television. Still, except for a few special cases, most films are made this way.
Also a great part of Polish industry proved to have existed only to support the Soviet military industry, and it became superfluous and incapable of being transformed into anything else. We did not foresee that or the magnitude of these phenomena.