Debate: A decade of hopelessness. From empty shelves to the Round Table

Monday 13th May | 7:00 p.m. | Luna B
Debate: A decade of hopelessness. From empty shelves to the Round Table after the screening of "1989” by Michał Bielawski
In Polish only
Partner: "Polityka” weekly

What was life really like in the last decade before the fall of Communism? What caused the Communist Party to yield power? The debates at the Round Table brought the end of that system, but would a different solution have been possible? What was everyday life like in Poland? How did hopelessness and empty store shelves lead to the upsurge of enthusiasm surrounding the events of 1989? The younger generations know the PRL - Polish People’s Republic – only from the comedies of Stanisław Bareja; could they see the PRL model as an alternative to capitalism, which proved so disappointing to so many? In our discussion with the attendees we will attempt to show the broader context of the era, demystify the bygone times, and discuss the parallels between contemporary Poland and the PRL.

Joanna Solska – writer, economic journalist, board member of the Polityka magazine, radio show host, recipient of numerous awards including the Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski Prize, Kisiel Award, Grand Press, and Dariusz Fikus Award. The jury of the 10th edition of the National Polish Bank’s Władysław Grabski contest named her Economic Journalist of the Decade. Author of 80-te. Jak naprawdę żyliśmy w ostatniej dekadzie PRL [The 80s. How we really lived in the last decade of the PRL].

Tomasz Nałęcz – historian, writer, politician, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm. Nałęcz served as Presidential advisor for history and national heritage from 2010 to 2015. Lecturer at the University of Warsaw and the Academy of Humanities in Pułtusk. Member of the Social Chapter of Science Awards of the Polityka magazine.

Małgorzata Niezabitowska – journalist, writer (incl. W twoim kraju wojna! [War in your country!] documenting the martial law period in Poland), screenwriter, and playwright. Former investigative journalist at Tygodnik Solidarność [Solidarity Weekly] and opposition activist in the PRL times, she was the spokeswoman of Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s cabinet between 1989 and 1991. Harvard scholar and recipient of Irena Sendlerowa and Czesław Miłosz awards, Niezabitowska sits on the board of directors of the POLIN Museum. 

Adam Jerzy Tański – politician, economist; Minister of Agriculture and Food Economy in 1991, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2003. Tański had been in charge of “Operation: Free Market”, enabling a speedy transition from food rationing to market economy. He participated in shutting down the national system of collective farms and had been the first chairman of the State Treasury Agricultural Property Agency (1992-2002).

Michał Bielawski – director of 1989. Debuted in 2013 with feature-length documentary Mundial. Gra o wszystko [Mundial. The Highest Stakes] and went on to direct Drużyna [The Team] about the national men’s volleyball team. Bielawski created the docuseries Kibice [The Fans] for Canal+Discovery in 2018; in 2019 he finished shooting Wiatr. Thriller dokumentalny [Wind. A docuthriller], co-produced by HBO Europe.