Learning from history — experience of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century

The website "Learning from History" is a publication platform for educational projects dedicated to the history of Poland and its neighbors in the 20th century and human rights

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„Chejt” – a fictionalised interactive documentary about the destructive power of ideology

Krzysztof Wargenau, Leszek Nurzyński, Rafał Borowy

Project description

„Chejt” [phonetically hate] is a fictionalised interactive documentary about the destructive power of ideology. It presents the history of a small town Mordy from the perspective of Henryk Przewłocki – a landlord, main character and narrator. We get to know him in 1939 at the beginning of World War II. Despite the danger Przewłocki decides to stay at his mansion. He says, „I am not running away. There is still so much to do. I’ll show you what is a real threat to this town”. The retrospection leads us back to 1920.

The story is divided into 4 chapters which may branch off to smaller threads and historical details:

  1. Przewłocki inherits a manor in Mordy and becomes a landowner but the Polish-Soviet war in 1920 makes him flee. An Anti-Semitic mood in Mordy leads to reppression and killing of Jewish citizens.
  2. Przewłocki returns to Mordy and tries to establish business contacts and integrate the Polish-Jewish community. But politics come into play. Nationalist party calls for the Jews to be stripped of their rights. Different parties try to win something for themselves. Because of corrupt politicians Przewłocki can’t open a local business.
  3. In a local factory a strike breaks out. The leader – a Jewish woman – is accused of communism. The Polish-Jewish society is put to the test again.
  4. The town is in the headlines ‘thanks’ to Wojciech Wasiutyński. He’s a nationalist publicist who strives to prove that he is not a grandson of Józef Buchbinder – a Jewish painter from Mordy. He definitely denies his true roots and closes the door on further integration of the community.

The film will show the results of passivity and spreading divisions. Everyone can lose to ideology. Regardless of origin, nationality or beliefs. In some scenes viewers will face moral choices which will affect the parts of the plot.

We use a specific method of storytelling – polyphonic nonfiction novel. We’d like to utilize as many authentic testimonies. documents, articles and photos as possible. We would select, edit and put all trimmings of text in the right order to make the whole story consistent and logical. The process is similar to editing movies or sound. Due to the lack of material, the narration of the main character has to be created from scratch.

Final product would be an interactive 2,5D documentary animation noir, cut up in different moments to provide users with a choice where to go and what to see next. The core would consist of 4 main chapters which would branch off to smaller themes and historical details.