A documentary project about what the filmmakers claim to be the greatest, unfulfilled dream of Polish cinema, the 1970s science fiction epic ‘On the Silver Globe’. Docs to Go! Presentation
In 1975, the idealistic, uncompromising director Andrzej Żuławski returned to Poland from self-imposed exile in Paris and determined to make the sci-fi epic ‘On the Silver Globe’, set to be the biggest film in the history of Polish cinema. If he succeeded, he would win a place in the pantheon of the Polish directors. Were he to fail, his career in Poland would be over.
Żuławski’s vision for his film enchanted the cast and crew and a tight production bond was formed but, in 1976, as strikes spread across Poland, the authorities began to take a harsh line. After the release of Andrzej Wajda’s critical Man Of Marble, the Party dismissed the national head of cinematography, who was replaced by an official who didn’t see eye to eye with Żuławski, and two weeks before completion, the production was brought to a crashing halt.
Fragments of the film were smuggled out of the country and pieced together, and were eventually screened at Cannes by the then-festival director Gilles Jacob, but this was in 1988, years after the production. According to Polish producer Daria Maślona of Silver Frame, the film is considered a broken masterpiece that would have transformed the sci-fi genre, had it been given sufficient support earlier.
The documentary Escape to the Silver Globe will be director Jakub Mikurda’s second film, following on from his 2018 Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk, a co-production with HBO Europe, which was selected for approximately 40 film festivals both in Poland and internationally.
Maślona points out how Mikurda is an avowed cinephile with a fascination for Poland’s cinema heritage, as evidenced by his choice of subjects.
“He goes really deep into the history of Polish cinema, finding blind spots in this history,” she says. “Filmmakers who are heroes or who are failures, usually there is a great story behind these. His first documentary was about Borowczyk, who was a very interesting Polish director from the 1970s who was also fighting the state and who was not appreciated in Poland.”
“He finds fascinating characters for his documentaries. They are always artists, usually filmmakers but there always something really tragic or dramatic in their lives.”
The film will make much use of archive, the producer points out, which will account for much of the €280,000 budget, as the footage will be sourced from both France and the UK. Time will be have to be spent in post-production to ready it for use in the film, the producer adds.
“We have some unique footage that has never been seen before,” Maślona confirms. “And we have lots of really unique photographs that we would like to transform into collages or into animation. The story will be told a little bit from inside the mind of Żuławski. We do not have interviews so we will try and enter his head using very artistic and visual means of explanation.”
“We of course have some interviews with the crew, and we have interviews with his family, his brother and his son, who also participated in the project,” she adds.
If everything goes to plan (which is difficult to guarantee when there is a global pandemic to deal with) the film will be ready for Spring 2021, when Maślona will be holding out for a Cannes selection, therefore looking to complete the original film’s narrative arc.
“Cannes was the only festival that showed ‘On the Silver Globe’ in its unfinished form. It was the premiere screening of the film, so it would be a great way to finish the whole story.”