Seattle Polish Film Festival: Young Eagles Grodno ‘39
October 22, 2023
Young Eagles is a dramatic depiction of war against the Soviets as seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy, Leon. On 9/1/1939, marking the beginning of the school year, his school is bombed by German planes. The war forces Leoś, Tadek, Ewelina, and thousands of Polish children to leave their childhood behind and quickly grow up in order to confront darkness of this new, twisted reality of adult life they are about to face
SIFF year-round passes and vouchers are not valid for this screening.
The main character of the film Young Eagles is a 12-year-old Leoś Rojst (Feliks Matecki), who spends his childhood in the pre-war, multicultural city of Grodno. Despite the friction between the Polish and Jewish communities typical for borderland cities like Grodno, Leoś, who comes from a Jewish family, is passionate about Polish history, literature and Romanticism. He competes with a schoolmate for the role of Zbyszko of Bogdaniec in a school play “The Teutonic Knights” planned to premiere at the ceremony ending the 1938/1939 school year. But getting this role is not the only goal of this young boy – he wants to impress his classmate Ewelina (Almira Nawrot), the daughter of a Polish Army officer (Antoni Pawlicki). Leoś dreams of going to a scout troop summer camp, but the arrest of Leoś’s older brother Jakub (Filip Gurłacz) for communist activities stands in the way of his admission to the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association. This is why Leoś spends the summer of 1939 in Grodno, training middle distance running. He intends to follow in the footsteps of Janusz Kusociński and dreams of winning a medal for Poland in the 1944 Olympics. On 1 September 1939, the school is bombed by German planes. The war forces Leoś, his schoolmates and thousands of Polish children to leave their childhood behind and quickly grow up in order to confront the darkness of this new, twisted reality of adult life they are about to face.
On 17 September 1939, the Soviet army crosses the Polish border and the people of Grodno are defending their city. The few military units stationing in Grodno are supported by the civilian population and, above all, schoolchildren. Following an attack by Soviet tanks, Leoś takes part in the dramatic defence of Polish barricades, the last bit of Poland in the Borderlands. Unexpectedly, it turns out that Leoś's brother, Jakub, is leading a subversive group supporting the Soviet army's attack on Grodno.
- Director: Krzysztof Łukaszewicz
- Principal Cast: Feliks Matecki, Jowita Budnik, Bartek Tropa, Wit Czernecki, Antoni Pawlicki
- Country: Poland
- Year: 2022
- Running Time: 104 min.
- Language: Polish
- Has Subtitles: Yes