Dzień Kobiet (direct translation into English: Women’s Day) was claimed as the polish version of Erin Brockovich. The movie is interesting not only because of its universal story but also because of the director and the main actress. It was rewarded with the Grand Prix during the 2012 Cottbus FilmFestival.
The universal story
Dzień Kobiet is a story of Halina Radwan, who just got promoted as a manager of the grocery store called Motylek. The promotion gives her hope: she can eventually move into a better flat and her teenage daughter, Misia, can finally have her own room. Besides, her colleagues seems to accept her as their new boss. What could possibly go wrong? The movie didn’t give us a chance to think about it as the action changes very quickly: it didn’t take long for Halina’s employees to start neglecting her orders and decisions. To be more precise: about 10 minutes, so the time other movies usually need to introduce the main hero at all. It seems surprising for Halina but not for us: typical behaviour of jealous people you’d say. On the other hand, there’s more to it.
Halina slowly and carefully does enjoy her new position and fulfilling the company’s strategy. What’s problematic is that some of the actions she takes are illegal. Subconsciously, she forgives herself for doing it as she just needs a job, she’s aware she won’t get one easily in case she’s fired and after all her life seems to be on a good track. Things get more complicated when she faces a choice: shall she support her friend and colleagues, or the company? The choice she makes give a lot of new turns in the second half of the movie and an inspiring picture of a fighting woman.
Universality of the story lies mostly in the fight between individual and a group of power, between small and big, between David and Goliat. The same like in the biblical parable, impossible becomes possible. We have also the classic fight between the poor and the rich. Universal is also the sad truth about corporations, focused on profit at all costs. Shocking is the difference between e.g. Germany, which has really strong laws protecting the employees and Poland, where people are still just being used! I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of the reasons why the movie won the Grand Prix in Cottbus.
As I didn’t really follow the polish cinema in the last years, I don’t really know what’s worth watching or what shall I watch first. There are exceptions like well-known names, which give me impression about what I can expect but as a fact, I do know more about international cinema than the (latest) polish movies. The funny thing about this movie is that I chose it because of Maria Sadowska, who I always knew as a singer, rather than a movie director. As always, research in the Internet confirmed that my first association was correct. Sadowska released already nine albums and even though she finished her directing studies in 2002, her first movie hit was produced first in 2012 and it was Dzień Kobiet. She not only directed it but also co-wroted and, how could it be different, wrote the music.
The main actress, Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, was known to me mainly from her parodies during the popular Polish evening show: Szymon Majewski Show. It wasn’t her first role in a movie but certainly the most memorable one.
The story isn’t based on a particular true event, the main character is pure fiction but both the director and screenwriter were influenced by different, separate cases which really happened in Poland. One of them got quite bit coverage in a Polish TV and referred to forcing employees to stop going to the toilet and use diapers instead. It was shocking for everyone to find out that such things are really happening. Sad truth is also that many Poles still do shop in the store, which was accused of such practices. They offer cheap products and although Poland is getting richer not everyone can afford the alternatives.
Actually nothing surprising, but…
… but it’s still worth watching. Don’t expect something you haven’t seen before, after all, there’s a reason why the movie was compared in Poland to Erin Brockovich. It’s not an outstanding arthouse experience or unforgettable bockbuster but a good piece of a social problem movie. One of the most shocking things isn’t that it’s happening in Europe. I’m kind of used to the fact, that Poland still doesn’t offer extensive consumer or employee rigths in comparison to other countries. Shocking is something else: the movie proves that not only war or other armed conflicts can undermine our human rights. Unfortunately these are also big corporations, which search for loopholes in the law for their own benefits or they just do things illegaly.
I do recommend watching this movie to know more about what social problems Poles cope with. It’s filled with good action, real emotions and good acting. But, don’t judge, as always, not everything is bad.