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The first film studios featuring Jewish directors and actors were established in Poland before the First World War and produced silent films designed for Jewish audiences.

The Sila [Power] studio, founded by M. Towbin, made films directed by M. Arnstein and filmed by S. Sebel: Chasydka i odstepca (1911), Der wilder fater (Yiddish, Cruel Father, 1911, based on the play by J. Gordin), Di Shtifmuter (Yiddish, Step-Mother, 1911), Bog, Czlowiek i Szatan (Polish, God, Man and Satan, 1912, based on the play by Gordin), Di Fershtoysene (Yiddish, The Disinherited, 1912, based on the play by F. Waksman), Mirele Efros (1912, based on a work by Gordin, whose cast included the entire Kaminski family). In 1913, the studio "Kosmos-Film" was founded, which hired that same director and cameraman. It produced Dem chazns tochter (Yiddish, The Cantor's Daughter), Der unbekanter (Yiddish, The Stranger, 1913), Di shichte (Yiddish, The Shift, 1913), Gots shtrof (Yiddish, Divine Punishment, 1913), all of them based on works by Gordin, the last of which had E. R. and I. Kaminski in its cast; Hertsele meyuches (Yiddish-Hebrew, Noble Heart, 1913, based on the play The Oath by M. Richter, with E. R. Kami�ska); Zayn vaybs man (Yiddish, Husband of His Wife, 1913, with I. Kaminska); and Di Shtifmuter (Yiddish, The Step-Mother, 1914, based on a work by Gordin). In 1924, L. Forbert founded the "Leo-Forbert" company and produced Tchiyes Kaf (Hebrew, The Oath, 1924, directed by Z. Turkow, with a screenplay by H. Bojm and pictures by cameraman S. Steinwurzel; its cast included E. R. and I. Kaminski, W. Godiki, Z. Turkow; this same film was released in a sound version, filmed again in 1937 with another cast.) This studio also produced Lamed-vovnik (Polish title: Jeden z trzydziestu szesciu [One of Thirty-Six], 1925, directed by H. Szaro) and W lasach polskich [Polish, In the Polish Forests] based on a work by J. Opatosz (1929). It was directed by J. Turkow, with a cast that included both Polish and Jewish actors.

During the Depression, Jewish film production all but ceased, though Jewish sound films made in the United States did find their way to Poland. Soon sound films began to be produced there as well.
Two avant-garde films were made, directed by A. Ford which was confiscated by the censors.

In 1937, the director M. Waszy�ski made the film Dybuk [Dybbuk], based on the play by S. An-Ski; its screenplay was written by A. Kacyzne, Arnstein and A. Stern, with music by H. Kon, in collaboration with experimental Jewish theaters. The cast included A. Morewski. This film, made by "Feniks-Film", was one of the most important achievements in the history of Jewish filmmaking.
In that same year, "Sektor Films Co." made a comedy titled Freyleche kabtsonim (Polish title, Weseli Biedacy [Happy Paupers]), directed by Z. Turkow, with music by Kon; its cast included two popular comedians, S. D�igan and I. Schumacher. In 1935-1936, two film studios were founded that specialized in Jewish Yiddish-language talkies, but that also produced Polish films.
The first, "Green-Film", was founded by J. Green (Grinberg), an actor and director who came to Poland after an unsuccessful attempt to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Earlier, he had worked with the Wilno Troupe and in the Jewish Art Theater of New York. His company made several popular comedies, such as Yidl mitn fidl (Polish title, Judel gra na skrzypcach [Yidl Plays the Fiddle], 1936, directed by Green and J. Nowina-Przybylski, with a screenplay by K. Tom and songs by I. Manger). Its cast included the American actress M. Picon in the title role.

The studio also produced Der purimshpiler (Yiddish, The Purim Players; Polish title, B�azen purimowy [Purim Fool] (1937), directed by Green and Nowina-Przybylski, with text and songs by Manger, with the participation of Z. Turkow and M. Bo�yka), Mamele (Yiddish, Little Mother, 1938, directed by Green and Tom, with Picon in the title role), and the melodrama A brivele der mamen (Yiddish, Letter to Mother, 1938, with screenplay by M. Oszerowicz and Stern, and cameraman Steinwurzel).

Another studio, a cooperative called "Kinor", was founded by a group of actors, including the comedians D�igan and Schumacher. It was run by the Goskind brothers. It produced Al chet (Polish tile, Za grzechy [For the Sins], 1937) and several short documentary films on Jewish life. The last Jewish film made before the war in Poland was a comedy whose screenplay was by Kacyzne, based on a play by Gordin, On a heym (Polish title, Bezdomni [The Homeless], 1939; made by "Alma-Film"), with music by I. Szajewicz and H. Wars; its cast included I. Kaminska and Schumacher.

Jewish actors and directors participated in the making of Polish films as well. Szaro, for example, directed the silent film Na Sybir [To Siberia] (1930), Dzieje grzechu [A History of Sin] (1933) and Ordynata Michorowskiego [Michorowski's Estate] (1937). M. Znicz was very popular: he played in Mlody las [Young Forest] (1934) and Zapomniana melodia [Forgotten Melody] (1938).

For a short period after the war (1945-49), "Kinor" began making films again. Several documentary films were made (Kronika [Chronicle], Zydowskie osadnictwo na Dolnym Slasku [Jewish Settlement in Lower Silesia], Droga do zdrowia [Road to Health]) and two feature films based on real events: Mir lebngeblibene (Yiddish, We, Who Survived, 1948), and Unzere kinder (Yiddish, Our Children, whose cast included D�igan and Schumacher), which related the experiences of Jewish children during the occupation. This film was only shown in Poland once, at a closed viewing.
The last Jewish film made in Poland was "Z ruin do kraju ojczystego" [From Ruins to the Homeland], presenting the activities of the Zionist youth. It was prepared semi-officially and finished in France after the Jewish self-government and cultural organizations had been liquidated by the communist government in Poland.

Most of the Jews working for "Kinor" emigrated. Ford, as a filmmaker who had been involved with the First Polish Army in 1945, organized the state-owned studio "Film Polski" in Lodz. The directors S. Wohl and N. Gross worked for the studio, as did cameraman M. Jahoda. L. Perski was associated with "Polska Kronika Filmowa" ("Polish Film Chronicle") for many years, both as an actor and cameraman.

In 1948, Ford made Ulica Graniczna [Border Street] about ghetto life; several Jewish actors played in it. Later, Jewish themes appear in Polish films only from time to time, such as in the films Miasto nieujarzmione [Unvanquished City] (1950), Bialy niedzwiedz [Polar Bear] (1959) by J. Zarzycki; Samson (1961) by A. Wajda; Swiadectwo urodzenia [Birth Certificate] (1961) by S. Rozewicz; Naganiacz (1963) E. and C. Petelski; Salto (1965) by T. Konwicki; Niekochana [Unloved] (1966) by J. Nasfeter; Wniebowstapienie [The Ascension] (1969) by J. Rybkowski; Sanatorium pod klepsydra [Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass] (1973) by W. Has; Ziemia Obiecana [Promised Land] (1975) by A. Wajda; Austeria (1982) by J. Kawalerowicz; Kartka z podrozy [Postcard from a Trip] (1983) by W. Dziki; Wedle wyrokow Twoich [According to Your Judgements] (1983) by J. Hoffman; and Jeszcze tylko ten las [Just Beyond This Forest] (1991) J. �omnicki.
(A.C./CM)

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