My Friend the Enemy
For centuries, Poles and Ukrainians lived alongside each other in what before World War II was Poland and is now western Ukraine. Children went to school together and people intermarried. But in 1943, after occupations by the Russians, then the Germans, an extremist group of Ukrainian nationalists put this to a grim end. Poles were massacred on a large scale, and no one was spared. Seventy years after this traumatic event, Polish survivors return to their native land – sleepy, beautiful countryside where time seems to have stood still for decades. In My Friend the Enemy, country life and the sounds that go with it take a leading role: the cackling of geese, crickets under a full moon, fighting dogs, whistling, roaring and bleating. The now elderly Poles tour their former home by horse and cart. This is where they fled for their lives and witnessed their relatives and friends being killed. Those who were saved often owe their lives to courageous Ukrainians who offered them a place to hide. During touching, openhearted meetings with Ukrainian relatives and witnesses, Poles express their gratitude. Supplemented with intertitles offering historical information, we hear the whole story as the protagonists lived it, and gradually learn that it isn’t as black-and-white as we may have expected. What remains is a universal story that is still relevant today.
Wanda Koscia, Miroslaw Chojecki for Grupa Filmowa, Piotr Weychert for Grupa Filmowa