My travels Part 2, Poland

My travels from small town New Zealand to Wroclaw, Poland for the New Horizons Film Festival 2008

I was going to greet you in Polish but I don’t actually know how to spell any of it. Phonectically it is something like ‘zindabre’ I’m picking up more and more words everyday. My pronounciation is really good apprantly. My translator Jurik speaks French, Polish and English. He spent 20 years in Aussie and his pronounciation of Maori is excelent. Its Te Reo with a French accent. You should try it, It really works. I know my way around everywhere I have to be now. It’s s not that hard once you get used to it. There are no hills for your bearings. I tell them there is not a place in New Zealand where you can’t see hills. Not that I can think of anyway. And that you are never more than 3 hours from a beach. They freak out and can’t imagine it. They also freak out that we only have a population of 4 million. they have 40.
Anyway, all you really need to know is where the dumplings are. I’ve discovered that they aren’t only meat and savoury dumplings but sweet ones too. Like berry and cream cheese. my god!
Beer and dumplings? Its amazing they aren’t fat here. Imean I’m developing a dumpling of my own. And it aint sweet.

The festival is going really well. The young people are the ones going to all the movies. It’s pretty cool. And i’m talking many 100s in every screening all day and night. Lastnight they screened The Worlds Fastest Indian in the Square. The biggest screen I’ve seen. There were 1000s which is awesome because Roger Donaldson (the director) was there. I couldnt get in as there were no seats and people were crowded around from every vantage point and cafes and restaurants. so I sat like a dumpling on the ground for as long as I could hack it.

Someone rang me and invited me to a gallery opening. the Brazilian Embassy has invited me for dinner. Penny Ridings is our ambassador. She is really nice and I have hung with her and her husband several times including dinner lastnight. he plays golf! if i had time I’d be in. he said it is a expensive to play on an average course. i just said iI didn’t expect to pay for it, ha!

I went and watched Moana and the Tribe perform. I’ve seen her many times so i was surprised that i loved it so much. I was really proud almost to the point of tears. Had a good laugh with guys from the band. They wanted to go partying and asked me where the bars were. I said i hadn’t been to any yet and they thought I was joking haha.
I said to Moana that I had been here a couple of days and felt incredibly homesick. She said ‘harden man! stop being a wimp’
Theyve been on the road for 3 1/2 weeks in different parts fo Europe. Theyve been travelling by bus which i thought is rugged. to get to Wrocklav they had to leave at 3am for an 8 hour trip.
Ok I said the ‘W’ in Wrocklav was silent last time I wrote. It’s not, it goes from being a very subtle ‘v’ to a very pronounced ‘v’ but attached to the ‘r’
Vrotslav. There seems to be more exceptions to the rules here than rules here.

I had my first decent nights sleep. Midnight til 5 so not long but solid. It has taken a week to achieve that.

People still stare but I’m getting used to it. Its not so rude now. My guide Agnieszka says it because immigration isn’t big here. She says I don’t look Italian or Spanish and people can’t place me. I think shes poiltely reffering to the lips and nose (-:

Beer delivery

I don’t see many brown people at all. I saw a band of gypsies. they were a band, of gypsies , walking around serenading anyone who would listen and tip.
I like the music here, its so um, Eastern European. Go figure.
There is a duo who busk with their accordions. They play classics like Mozart, Beethoven and the rest. I have never heard or seen someone play those instrument like that. It is more than incredible, and looks like hard work too. Unreal!

Manaia arrived yesterday. They’re a kapa haka group based in London and Europe. One of them is friend from Wellington, Tama Kiri. Got a real surprise to see him. Just by coincendence we are both on a un-named short that is on here at the festival. Luckily we are such skilled actors that no-one clicked that it was actually us. Thank God, the shame would’ve been unbearable. Don’t bother asking me what it was, there i no way in hell i will give that info up.
Manaia held workshops for kids and performed after the Maori short films. Tonight theyr in the Opera House before The Te Kooti Trail. The people get our humour way better than you’d expect. Even the local NZ humour. Two cars One night is really popular of course. Roger Donaldson’s The Bank Job played to a full house. Angle Mine was really popular. Even the ambassador went haha. She said she loved it. David Blyth, the director tried to talk her into not going because of the subject matter. She insisted. It was hilarious how we were all worrried for her sake.

The Opera House gig went really well. Maiana opened with a 20 minute performance which took the roof off. Then the interpreter Jurik, Stuart (film historian) and Chris Hainsworth (pianist) took to the stage. My job was the easiest, information about Te Kooti and giving the film some context.

The NZ films have been packing out. Lines of people in almost all the screenings. Some auditoriums were 800 seaters and they were full. This is the biggest collection of NZ Films in one place ever and I could say that the attendance could never be achieved on this scale again.
The Mana Waka presentation got an amazing review in the top paper in Poland. The paper became famous as it rose out of the solidarity movement and is seen as the most important here. Well put it this way, to make this paper is an achievement. The director of the Fest was rapt. More than rapt! He came looking for me personally and delivered the paper instead of getting one of the volunteers to do it. People were surprised about that as they are all scared of him. The review described the film as monumental(?) and the screening as a defining point of the Fest.

I went to banquets at a restaurant called Casablanca which pretty much happened everynight. The first one we were guests of Wrcoklaw City. I saw this guy standing by himself and I wondered who he was. Very well dressed handsome man. Smooth as silk and looking pretty friendly. He asked me how the festival was going and we had quite a good conversation. He was witty and humourous. Then the festival direrctor started making a speech, welcoming everyone, the usual. Then he introduced the guest of honour, The President haha. He was standing by himself because he was the prez and no one would ever approach him, not commoners anyway.
If I knew I still would’ve talked to him. I just found him approachble and friendly. Thats all that really counts in the end.

My time here was amazing. At first things were really confusing, and I had some sort of opposites disease. And in many ways things are opposites. The jeglag really took its toll. I have a theory that our bodies have to adjust physically to the Northern Hemisphere. Just as the water drains in the opposite direction so must your bodyon body have to change or flow in the opposite direction. And this is why it is so hard on us being in our position on the globe. Even the way the city functions, how organised they are as a people is the opposite to home. But I expected these things as you do wheen it comes to visiting different countries. And then there the similarities that I came to like, or even love about this place and and the people. The endless struggle they have had, and hardshiphas created a real tough attitude. I’m not comparing our history to theirs, or their struggle to ours. They have been to hell an back, several times over. I mean I
understand as an outsider how things look doesn’t mean that is how theyactually are. People make their judgements of us all the time. People who can’t see past the exterior, or their own noses. People who should know better and don’t. It is an observation of the exterior that creates differences.
The language here seems so abrupt and the people do too. But once you spend time and observe and absorb you see a whole different perspective. Nothing is a problem that can’t be solved. Help comes as easily as dumplings and beer go down the throat. The language becomes beautiful, understandable and the humour way more obvious and surprising. You learn or you miss out.
The most common thing they say to me is ‘for example.’ the most common thing I say is ‘ pardon?’ Ok Ive got a mission today, pack and catch two planes a bus and train to Rome…I kid you not.

Shit! My plane was cancelled. Lufthansa on strike. Luckily Agnieszka (my guide) came in to the terminal with me to make sure everything was OK. . . otherwise I would not have solved that in hurry. It took two hours of highspeed negotiating and she had organised with the festival people who managed to book me a flight to Warsaw then Rome for tomorrow.
Awesome and exactly what I have been writing about.
They also said theyd get me a room for the night. I asked to go to Hotel Art where the other Maoris were staying. I didn’t end up seeing them until this morning anyway. They were out raging. I wasn’t. I’m exhausted beyond belief.
I can say this ‘Spozywczy.’ Even when tired.

Another mission awaits.



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