Central Park (Park Centralny)

From Film Director: After more than a year’s work, I have at last finished Park Centralny (Central Park), a film which I am convinced will play a major role in the ongoing efforts to restore Białystok’s Jewish heritage. I sincerely believe that its screening will result in real action being taken to reconstruct Białystok’s most ancient Jewish cemetery, a place that was once an integral part of the city’s townscape. Read more below.

From film’s Director:

After more than a year’s work, I have at last finished “Park Centralny” (Central Park), a film which I am convinced will play a major role in the ongoing efforts to restore Białystok’s Jewish heritage. I sincerely believe that its screening will result in real action being taken to reconstruct Białystok’s most ancient Jewish cemetery, a place that was once an integral part of the city’s townscape.

I have managed to establish that the oldest Jewish cemetery in Białystok STILL EXISTS! This is the cemetery that was founded in 1750 and was known as the “Cmentarz Rabinacki” (The Rabbis’ Cemetery). The cemetery stood in the area which is now occupied by Białystok’s Central Park. It now lies beneath the park, buried and forgotten under a layer of sand and debris!

During the period 1952 – 1954 Białystok’s main architect was an engineer, the respected architect Michał Bałasz (who designed more than 100 churches!). This 90-year old man has now decided to tell the truth – that more than 60 years ago he decided to cover over the cemetery. This was done with the tacit agreement of the communist authorities of the time.

Engineer Bałasz has a straightforward explanation for his decision: “After the war the cemetery lay in ruins. Many people freely used it as a rubbish dump while others went there to drink alcohol. This had to be stopped somehow, so I decided to cover it over, as this was the only way to save it. I think the time has now arrived for us to excavate the place”.

According to Bałasz there are about 1,000 gravestones lying just under the surface of the ground. The film Park Centralny starts a campaign for the excavation of the cemetery and the creation of an underground lapidarium that will exist alongside the present park.

Duration: 27 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray in English/Yiddish version and in all the regions.

Directed/Photographed and Edited by:
Tomasz Wisniewski

Screenplay by:
Tomasz Wisniewski

Music by:
Beate Schutzmann-Krebs

Produced by:
Tomasz Wisniewski

Distributed by:
LOGTV, Ltd

SCREENINGS

• Erie International Film Festival, Erie, PA, December 2014

• Bialystok Film Festival – “Filmowe Podlasie Atakuje”, October 17, 2014

• Zmiana Klimatu – Białystok, October 12, 2014

AWARDS

• Award of Merit at The Accolade Global Film Competition

• Audience Choice Award at the Erie International Film Festival

• Canal +, Poland

Tajemnice Parku Centralnego – Radio Białystok – Polish, 12.10.
Dziś jest plac zabaw, wyprowadzane są psy, a kiedyś na tym terenie był cmentarz żydowski. Park Centralny w Białymstoku kryje tajemnicę – kilkadziesiąt lat temu zakopano tam kirkut i być może nawet 1000 macew. Tak wynika z filmu „Park Centralny”, którego autorem jest Tomasz Wiśniewski.

Jak mówi – decyzję o zasypaniu cmentarza podjął w latach 50-tych XX w. ówczesny architekt miejski Michał Bałasz. Był przekonany, że w ten sposób go uratuje, bo m.in. nagrobki były rozkradane, urządzano libacje. Zdaniem Michała Bałasza należałoby przywrócić teraz pamięć o tym cmentarzu.

Tomasz Wiśniewski uważa, że oprócz badań sondażowych, archeologicznych można by zorganizować międzynarodowy konkurs na zagospodarowanie tego terenu. „Pomijam już aspekt pozytywnej opowieści o naszym mieście, która w kontekście tej opowieści o ekscesach rasistowskich będących udziałem wąskiej grupy pół-oszołomów, odbudowałaby trochę wizerunek Białegostoku” – dodaje Tomasz Wiśniewski.

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