Art of Freedom


As a part of series of documentaries in the Polish Institute - "Poland - shortly".

Thursday 25 October 2012, 6:00 pm

Lengyel Intézet

Budapest VI. Nagymező u. 15.


Poles and Hungarians know each other well and know a lot about themselves and their culture. But not always know the background of events or those people whose work is important part of Polish Culture. This time - for those who knows Polish or English - we want to bring closer some of these fascinating phenomena. 

Screenings will be in Polish with English subtitles, for free.


Art of Freedom

Art of Freedom answers the most poignant questions on the phenomenon of Polish Himalaism in the '70s and '80s

Poles reigned the highest mountaintops of the world for more than 20 years. They not only set down new trails, but new rules of sportsmanship. They set themselves apart with an original style of climbing, endurance, conscientiousness about the overall well-being of the team - and solidarity. Jerzy Kukuczka was the first Pole to conquer the crown of the Himalayas - all the 8,000-meter peaks. Soon after, Krzysztof Wielicki did it all over again. Poland's greatest female Himalaist Wanda Rutkiewiczconquered as many as 8 of these peaks, partially on entirely new trails.

How is it possible that in the People's Republic Poland of the '70s and '80s, at the very cusp of socialism, Polish mountain climbers were the best in the world? How could the citizens of a nation in which the average pay was 20 dollars a month afford to organize climbing expeditions in the Himalayas? In what way did privation across every aspect of life influence their condition and their morale? What distinguished climbers from Poland from those from the other side of the "iron curtain"?

The greater the obstacles faced by Poles in their crisis-ridden homeland, the greater their conquests in the Himalayas. All those who have trekked the Himalayas have underscored the immense determination that resulted from the hardships in acquiring a passport, equipment and funds. This level of determination, unmatched by anyone from the other side of the "iron curtain", won them the highest peaks with an unsurpassed fervor that was so characteristic of Polish climbers. Jerzy Kukuczkareminisces: "I could never reconcile myself to the fact of returning with nothing. I always tried one last time. Even in spite of reason, but always according to a confidence from within."

Directed by Marek Kłosowicz and Wojciech SłotaArt of Freedom  tells the stories of the most difficult Polish expeditions and the most spectacular ascents. It depicts the essence of Himalaism: overcoming the weaknesses of the human body in the most extreme conditions. It is also a story of endurance, solidarity, trust and concern for the overall well-being of the team. After all, Himalaism is the school of life, a test of survival and the experience of true freedom.

Art of Freedom

Produced by: The Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 2011
Screenplay and direction: Wojciech Słota, Marek Kłosowicz

The film is part of the Guide to the Poles series of documentary films produced within the framework of the International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council in 2011