blogEast is a new initiative of goEast - Festival of Central- and Eastern European Film. We hereby declare our solidarity with our colleagues and friends from Central- and Eastern Europe, who see themselves confronted with large challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the following weeks blog entries will be published here, looking at the situation from a cinematic, political and/or social point of view. blogEast is supervised and edited by the goEast team and is part of the program Pan-Europan Picknick, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main.
My time in Italy this year was marked by two antagonistic memories:
On the one hand how -despite the isolation of large parts of northern Italy- the Sicilian dogma "Megghiu muriri chi mali campari*" still manifested itself in exuberant city life. And then, on the other hand the dystopian atmosphere which set in a few days later with a nationwide curfew, enforced by policemen wearing face masks and carrying machine guns and by the city maintenance staff working in protective suits on the streets of Sicilian Catania.
I noticed a visual analogy to 1986 and the Chernobyl disaster. People paid with their lives for the selfishness of a government which refused to admit its mistakes. This seems to be hard to imagine nowadays - the health of citizens is a priority during the CoVID-19 crisis. In addition, a growing sense of solidarity can be detected in society: similarly to other affected countries, friends and family from Poland tell me that most people are responsibly complying with set prevention measures.
All the more reason for European citizens to pay attention to Poland are the brazen machinations of the government there: PiS party leader Kaczyński wants to carry out the presidential elections planned for May 10th at all costs, despite the high sanitary risk, and is thereby endangering the efforts of citizens to keep the spread of the virus at a minimum. Polish television, which was endowed with about half a billion euros in government funds shortly before the crisis, predominantly shows PiS candidate and acting president Duda. In conjunction with the demonstrative cessation of election campaigns by his fellow campaigners and the predictably low voter participation, this gives him a considerable advantage. To me, the comparison with Chernobyl seems to become even more accurate by taking these circumstances into account. In the drama series Chernobyl by HBO (2019), shift leader Dyatlov sends his employees to their deaths after the explosion of the nuclear reactor - he asks them to pump water into the reactor to prevent it from shutting down, despite distinct signs that a catastrophe has already occurred. Kaczyński reminds me of this tragic role. To keep his political reactor running, he is willing to sacrifice lives, democracy and the results of civic solidarity: not great, but certainly terrible.
An online petition to postpone the Polish presidential elections has been launched by the Obserwatorium Wyborcze (The Polish Election Observatory): CLICK HERE
*It's better to die than to live poorly