Aleksander Ford

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Aleksander Ford (a Jew born Mosze Lifszyc in 1908) debuted with the silent movie Mascot (1930). In 1937 Wanda Jakubowska launched the Spoldzielnia Autorow Filmowych (Cooperative of Film Authors) or SAF. The greatest talent of this avantgarde group was Aleksander Ford who made the films that truly galvanized Polish cinema: Legion Ulicy/ Legion of the Streets (1932, lost), played by non-professional actors, Sabra (1933), filmed in Palestine with actors from Tel Aviv's Habima Jewish theater, about the conflict between Jewish settlers from Poland and the Arab population, the docudrama Przebudzenie/ The Awakening (1934), about the children of a Jewish tuberculosis sanatorium, and Ludzie Wisly/ People of the Vistula (1937), a touching document about the destitute people living and working on boats on the Vistula river.

During the war Ford worked for the official Polish army reconstituted under general Zygmunt Berling, and made documentaries photographed by Stanislaw Wohl. At the end of the war, Poland instituted Film Polski company, which was granted the absolute monopoly of Polish cinema, and hired Ford as the manager and Jerzy Bossak (editor-in-chief of “Film” magazine) was put in charge of the artistic program.

Ford devoted his first post-war film to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1953: Ulica Graniczna/ Border Street (1949). It came the film when Polish Jews were still shaken by the "Kielce pogrom", during which Polish police and ordinary people had killed 42 Jews.

But Ford was a convinced Stalinist and supported the dogmas of socialist realism. He personally directed a film of socialist realism, Piatka z ulicy Barskiej/ Five boys from Barska Street (1953), which follows the adventures of five juvenile delinquents amongst the ruins of Warsaw.

After Osmy Dzien Tygodnia/ The Eighth Day of the Week (1958), based on a story by Marek Hlasko, about a young couple that desperately search for a home, starring Zbyszek Cybulski and the German actress Sonja Ziemann, which was deemed "ideologically wrong" by the censors and therefore banned, Ford made the grandiose anti-German Krzyzacy/ Crusaders/ Knights of the Teutonic Order (1960), adapted from Sinkiewicz and inspired by Eisenstein's epics.

His career was cut short by the anti-semitic purges of 1968. In went into exile and eventually committed suicide in 1980.

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