In the early 1950s Tonia Dziwisz, a third-rate cabaret singer, tours the country to perform for rather undiscerning audiences. One day, after a quarrel with her husband, two men make her drunk and take her, intoxicated, to what turns out to be prison. During the first interrogation a Public Security officer asks her detailed questions about her love life. Tonia tries to give true answers, yet the officer wants more. Slowly, it dawns on her that what they want is for her testimony to incriminate her acquaintance, major Olcha, as a traitor and spy. When Tonia refuses to sign the interrogation report, she is humiliated, threatened with being shot, beaten, undressed naked and poured over with icy water, locked in a punishment cell. Still, she does not break down. Her co-inmate, communist Witkowska, believes that Tonia should plead guilty because "people's government cannot be wrong". Shown her statement admitting marital infidelity, Tonia's husband files for divorce. Lonely and with no support, Tonia tries to commit suicide and is taken to hospital, where on Christmas Eve she is visited by lieutenant Morawski, who had taken over the interrogations. They have a sexual intercourse and Tonia gets pregnant. She promises to Morawski not to reveal the identity of the child's father. She learns that major Olcha has been shot and gives birth to a baby daughter who is taken away from her a few months later.

When Stalin dies, Morawski summons Tonia to his office and tells her that she would soon be released from prison. He also tells her in which orphanage her daughter is staying.

By the time this film, previously banned by the censors, had its first public screening in Poland in 1989, it had already achieved mass circulation as a pirate video. Its director, Ryszard Bugajski, had left the country fouryears previously because he was not allowed to work there anymore. "Przesluchanie" is a vivid account of a woman who falls into the clutches of Polish justice in 1951 and who is subjected to extremely brutal interrogation. At first she manages to stand firm; till she realises that she is to be groomed for a political trial. This intensive film shows how humanity can survive even under the most extreme conditions...

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Ryszard Bugajski

Written by: Janusz Dymek, Ryszard Bugajski

Produced by: Janusz Morgenstern

Main Cast: Krystyna Janda (Antonina "Tonia" Dziwisz), Adam Ferency (Tadeusz Morawski)), Janusz Gajos (Major Zawada "Kąpielowy"), Agnieszka Holland (Communist Witkowska), Anna Romantowska (Mira Szejnert), Bozena Dykiel (Honorata), Olgierd Lukaszewicz (Konstanty Dziwisz - Tonia's husband)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Film 1990
  • European Actress 1990
  • European Screenwriter 1990