Director: Wladyslaw Pasikowski
Screenplay: Wladyslaw Pasikowski
Producers: Dariusz Jablonski, Violetta Kaminska
Starring: Maciej Stuhr, Ireneusz Czop, Andrzej Mastalerz, Zbigniew Zamachowski
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 107 min.
War is never really over. The fighting might stop, soldiers leave, bodies buried and homes rebuilt but the effects of war have a way of reaching through time. Sixty years after WWII, new war stories are still emerging, small facts about people and places that were lost to history and memory. Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s Aftermath is a slightly more complicated in that the fictionalized events have erupted a national discussion about Poland’s complicated history.
Ten years in the making, Pasikowski’s film is inspired by historian Jan Gross’ “Neighbors,” a carefully researched history that uncovers the reality of the murder of the Jewish population of an entire town. Covering similar ground, Aftermath stars Ireneusz Czop as Francis, eldest Kalina son who escaped to the United States in the 80s leaving his brother Jozef (Maciej Stuhr) and his parents behind to care for the family farm. Francis has reluctantly returned to the unchanging village of his youth to visit his brother Jozef whose wife and children have abandoned him and moved in with Francis in the US.
Jozef has been making enemies of most of his neighbours by buying up, and occasionally stealing, old Jewish headstones which he has set into a makeshift cemetery in one of his fields. He’s taught himself enough Hebrew to read the inscriptions and feels a pull to the work he’s doing, as if he’s setting straight an old wrong. It’s not until Francis goes digging through the archives that he discovers that there’s far more at stake than a few misused headstones and that the town is harbouring a very nasty secret.