When I think of Poland from my childhood I can’t believe that a country can change and develop so much within just 20 years. Now kids are dreaming of the new iPhone and super fast computers whereas we used to dream about Adidas shoes and sweets from Germany. Having a family in Germany, that was something! All kids of the block would gather together around the brand new Audi with German registration plate, parked in the backyard. Everyone would envy you because through this family, visiting you once a year, you had an access to a better, magical world, starting as far as beyond the country’s border. The time was difficult, no one had money after system’s transformation but we were kids and we loved it. Now, being young adults, we tend to idealize the late 80’s and the 90’s, even though we have much better perspectives at present. Going to Germany is not a big deal for anyone now. Young Polish people travel, study abroad, they become citizens of the world. But at the same time, we still love the 90’s and we don’t envy the kids of today as growing up in the 90’s was far more exciting and we knew how to appreciate even the smallest things.
There’s a new Polish movie now in cinemas, called “Yuma”. It tells the story of a young guy in the beginning of the 90’s who lives by the border with Germany in a little town without perspective. He gets tempted by the possiblity of smuggling cheap cigarettes from Poland to Germany, but soon he starts to steal in shops on the German side. The word ‘juma’ means in Polish the process of stealing goods in a foreign country and bringing them to Poland. It was a very common practice mainly in the 90’s when the iron wall collapsed, people had no money and stealing from Germans was not a crime for them – usual excuse was that Germany robbed us and destroyed us during the war so why not to steal from them in return? Silly, but true. Most of them were simple petty crimes, stealing cosmetics or shoes, now it seems so absurd that I heard a group of teenagers dicussing this movie, saying that ‘it’s so overrated, it could have never happened!’ But well, they’re growing up in a completely different Poland. Still, ‘yuma’ does exist even today, but not to such a degree and it’s connected rather with smuggling the stolen things from Germany to Ukraine or Russia. The movie doesn’t promote such behaviour, quite the contrary, it shows that once you cross the borderline there’s no turning back and you’ll end up very badly breaking one rule after another.
“Yuma” movie has just been released in UK & Ireland, but I’m not sure if people from the old Western Europe can understand it as we do. I recommend it because it’s not a drama, which doesn’t happen too often in the Polish cinema 😉 And pay attention to the young actor playing the main character – Jakub Gierszał. He is on the list of 10 most talented young European actors and I guess we can expect it will only get better (watch “Suicide Room” if you need a proof of his talent, ).
Ah, the sweet 90’s…