This is the true story of Papusza - the first Roma woman who put her poems into writing and published them, and therefore confronted the traditional female image in the gypsy community. The film follows Papusza’s life from birth to old age: arranged marriage as a small girl, her life in a gypsy tabor before, during and after WWII, then forced settlement in a communist Poland and urban life in poverty. Her meeting with the Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski, who discovered her great talent for poetry and published her works led to a tragic paradox: a famous poet was living in poverty, rejected by the Roma community, for betraying their secrets.

Director's Statement

Papusza was a Roma girl, born in a carriage, an autodidact, who in the end
was mentioned in the world‘s encyclopedias and had her work translated into many languages. She was also named as one of the 60 most important women in Polish history. Isn‘t this an astonishing destiny worth to be told in an epic film? For us, it was also an opportunity to introduce the world of the Romas and to give it back its dignity.
The culture of the Roma has hardly ever been greeted with interest, evoking fear and aggression instead. With his monograph, Jerzy Ficowski has shed a new light on Roma people and contributed to a better understanding of that group. He confronted the schemes and prejudices, which had categorized Roma as demonic and worthless. We want to follow Jerzy’s steps and show our audience the pure and passionate soul of the Gypsy culture.
Beside the two main characters - Papusza and Jerzy Ficowski – there is a third „collective protagonist“, namely the gypsy world. Reconstructing a Roma way of life, which has been extinguished in its original form from the European landscape, proved to be the biggest challenge during our five year work on the film. Only after our work was finished, we have realised how daring a task it was to try to reconstruct this world from scratch, i.e. to build the tabors as they were and tell 80 years of Roma history until the era of communist reign in Poland, which resulted in compulsory Roma settlement. Especially as there is not much documentation available on the subject Roma and their extermination while at the same time there is massive body of research into prewar Jewish culture and the Holocaust.
Our film tells a story of a remarkable woman who paid a terrible price for transgressing norms of her community and publishing her poetical works – a price of rejection and solitude. It is also
a story about love and a character who is way beyond her times and has the courage to stay true to herself until the very end.
It is not a biopic (in a sense that My Nikifor was also not a biography). It is not a socio-political film or a work with etnographic aspirations. It is a film about courage to create, the suffering
and being alone at the peak of popularity, unrequitted love and deviotion. But also about happiness.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze

Written by: Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze

Produced by: Lambros Ziotas

Cinematography: Krzysztof Ptak, Wojciech Staron

Editing: Krzysztof Szpetmanski

Production Design: Anna Wunderlich

Costume Design: Barbara Sikorska-Bouffal

Original Score: Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz

Sound: Jaroslaw Bajdowski, Mateusz Adamczyk, Sebastian Witkowski

Cast: Jowita Budnik, Artur Steranko, Zbigniew Walerys, Antoni Pawlicki

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2014