25 | 02 | 2024

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, credit Robert Pałka

What could bring together a young Polish peasant and his neighbor – the daughter of a wealthy landholder - a young German gendarme and a Jewish girl from Warsaw? Love? Friendship? Coincidence?  

1943, The Polish countryside. The war has been going on for four years now. After the defeat at Stalingrad, younger and younger Germans are recruited into the army. This is how Guido – a sensitive seventeen-year-old from Hamburg – ends up in Poland. In this hostile environment, he is trying to find a refuge and shield himself from the brutality of the war and the coarse world of his older colleagues – gendarmes. In a forgotten attic, he listens to forbidden music – jazz – and he dreams.

At the same time, his contemporary, Romek, who has lost his father, is helping his mother as a railway employee. As the engine-driver’s assistant, every day, at the side track, he sees things taken away from Jews transported to death camps. He does not understand the tragedy – he looks at it indifferently. Whenever an opportunity arises, he attempts to take away the stolen items from  the German gendarmes, although they are often useless – such as an old phonograph. He is not a fighter. He is interested in girls – mostly in Franka, the daughter of a wealthy farmer. Guido finds her attractive, too.

Romek meets a girl who has escaped from a train car transporting Jews to a death camp – Bunia; at first, fearful of the consequences, he attempts to make her go away. Bunia does not want to leave. She hopes that the boy can save her. Eventually, a bond forms between the two.

Guido, feeling lost, gets closer to Franka. Listening to forbidden jazz, they make love in the attic. The commander finds their hiding place. Guido must choose now – will he save himself or help Franka? 

Summer Solstice ("Letnie przesilenie")
fictional film, Polish-German co-production
Screenplay and direction: Michał Rogalski
Cinematography: Jerzy Zieliński, ASC
Scenography: Janusz Sosnowski
Costumes: Anna Englert
Make-up: Anna Kaleta
Casting: Marta Kownacka
Sound: Martin Witte
Dubbing: Paul Rischer
Production management: Andrzej Besztak, Grzegorz Olkowski

Filip Piotrowicz (Romek)
Jonas Nay (Guido)
Maria Semotiuk (Bunia)
Urszula Bogucka (Franka)
Gerdy Zint (Odi)
Andre M. Hennicke (Feldwebel)
Steffen Scheumann (Oberleutnant)
Bartłomiej Topa (Leon)
Agnieszka Krukówna (Romek’s mother)
Juliusz Warunek (Karpiuk)
Damian Ul (Urbaniak)
Krzysztof Czeczot (Karwan)
Jürgen Hoppmann (Gruber)
Bartłomiej Kotshedoff (Bunia’s brother)

Producers: Maciej Strzembosz, Ewa Borguńska, René Frotscher, Eva-Marie Martens
Production: Prasa i Film (Poland), Sunday Filmproduktions GmbH (Germany)
Co-production: TVP S.A., WFDiF, Odra-Film, Studio Produkcyjne Orka, Mafilm, RBB – Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Synchron und Tonstudio Leipzig
Co-financing: Polski Instytut Sztuki Filmowej, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Deutscher Filmförderfonds
production stage: distribution