I still believe

Magda Mosiewicz

This film tells the story of Ewa Holuszko.

Ewa lives with 3 dogs and 3 cats. Her house is just a basement and the actual house has never been finished. She cannot afford it. She earns her living by copying data into computer files; it is low paid, mechanical work. She has a degree in electronics, physics, and psychology and used to teach at a technical university. But that was before she went through sex reassignment surgery.

She was transforming her body during the years when Poland was transforming its political system, its economy, and social structure. Ewa, then called Marek, used to on the frontlines fighting for this change. He was involved in the resistance against the Soviet-imposed authoritarian rule and in the formation of the Solidarity trade union. His vision of a new, free Poland was one of pluralism, equality, and free expression. But not once during his political activities did he mention his personal need to correct his sex and become a woman.

In 1981, the democratic movement was suppressed and martial law was established. The activists were imprisoned, the borders were closed and tanks entered the cities. Marek was one of the few regional leaders not found by the police. He spent one year hiding in different peoples apartments, organizing and mending broken contacts between the trade unions and the new, underground political organizations. A year later he was arrested, but never gave up any people involved in the movement. When he finally was released he left the country.

A few years later, the entire Soviet bloc collapsed. Marek came back. It was a free country. He went through surgery and a legal process. At the age of 50 Marek became Ewa.

But her old friends were afraid a “freak like her might ruin their political career. Her employers found an excuse to let her go. Her family felt ashamed. The freedom she had fought for turned out to be limited.

Her personal history reflects some traces of the new history of the state and, in fact, the whole region. The newly achieved freedom turned out to be disappointing for the weaker parts of society. Nations kept long in a “political freezer, divided along simple lines: “us - the people and “them - the power, were not prepared to deal with diversity. Ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities encountered aggression and discrimination. There are individual nonconformists and movements everywhere who realize the fight for justice is an ongoing process.

The story of Ewa Holuszko is told in a series of conversations between herself and Anka Grupinska.

Anka Grupinska is a writer and journalist who specializes in oral history. Her books include interviews with Warsaw Ghetto fighters, Israeli Hasidic women, and the Polish anti-communist opposition. Personal and social dimensions are always strongly interwoven in these stories.

We show Ewa at her place and at work, where she sits at night in the empty office and copies data from scanned paper documents. She prefers to work at night, when nobody is there. Together with her we join the Warsaw Gay Pride Parade and Womens Congress. We follow her to holy mass in the Russian Orthodox Church and on a pilgrimage she takes to a small monastery in the east of Poland.

We show archive photos that Anka collected for the book. The photos bring back the spirit of the times of direct oppression, street clashes with the police and army, slogans painted on the walls, empty roads (petrol sale was limited), tired, frustrated people. The Poland of martial law looks depressing in these pictures, but when Ewa talks about it she always sounds as if she is remembering happy times.

When Ewa gets involved in these old stories she sometimes, unconsciously, speaks of herself as a man, but mostly as a woman.

"I still believe"
documentry: 40 min
director: Magda Mosiewicz,
collaboration: Anka Grupińska,
montage: Aleksandra Panisko,
Follow Me Film Production 2011.
Premiere at Krakowski Festiwal Filmowy 2011

The movie was temporally available at "Obieg" page (from 25th of April till 25th of May 2017)