The review of the documentary "Symphony of the Ursus Factory" by Jaśmina Wójcik that has its worldpremiere at DOK Leipzig in Germany.

“In 2011 I came here for a walk and I saw empty halls, like a scene from Andriei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. I was taking pictures, thinking about the people who used to fill this empty space – where have they gone?”, asks Jaśmina Wójcik in the article by Anna Sańczuk (, 4.11.2017). Nowhere. They are still there – if not physically, then in spirit. In her avant-garde documentary The Symphony of the Ursus Factory Wójcik proves that the bodies of the people who used to work in the Ursus Factory in Warsaw before it was closed years ago still remember every gesture and every move they made day after day.

The artist and activist takes them back to the place where in the past there were production floors, conveyor belts and machines. The workers’ bodies still remember. Outdoors, they seem to dance to the rhythm of recorded conversations, noises, and music. Somebody’s hand goes up and done as if holding a hammer. Someone else pushes a button. Yet another person takes boxes off a conveyor belt. An empty, almost post apocalyptic space becomes a place where a world, dead and buried in rubble, comes back to life.

There aren’t many words in Wójcik’s documentary, but the director successfully creates a new language which brings together people who thought that no-one remembered them, even though they still remember the work that used to be their whole world. The cinematographer, Kacper Czubak, depicts both the existing and the imagined reality brought back to life in this social experiment in a subtle and careful way. He tells its story through colour. The Symphony of the Ursus Factory is immersed in light blues and greys, the colours of earth, steel, stone, and iron. Only the people – and their stories – are vividly colourful. Their life stories are edged in their beautiful wrinkled and tawny faces. Is this film going to change their lives? According to Wójcik, “It gives them a sense of recognition”. Only a slight change is possible, but she believes that “it can grow like sourdough”.

Anna Bielak