Dec 11, 2007

Life for life: a wasted effort

Wasting one's time is bad. Wasting's public money is worse. How often do we see that? Yes, a rhetorical question. Here's one of the most recent examples, this time, from Poland.

Polish Ministry of Culture and the Institute of National Remembrance have sponsored a new documentary. "A Life for a Life" (Polish: "┼╗ycie za ┼╝ycie"), is a 33-minute film that recounts the heroic efforts of Poles who helped Jews during the Holocaust premiered Wednesday; efforts that often ended in death (Poland was the only country where helping Jews was punishable by death). Notably, more Poles than any other nationality have been honored by the Yad Vashem institution in Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations" for rescuing Jews.

Such documentary is certainly a commendable action. Yet... there are no immediate plans to show the film abroad, reports the press. Ummm... so what's the point of making the documentary? To show it in Poland, where most people are quite aware of those facts?

Of course, I hear you say, we live in the age of the Internet. Those who want should be able to download the film from the dedicated website or buy a DVD. Right?

Perhaps if the documentary makers lived in the 21st century. There are no plans to distribute the film online. There are no plans to sell DVDs. There are no plans to show the film anywhere in Poland (at least, no such plans were annouced on the documentary website as of today).

It's a shame Polish taxpayers have to waste their money on such obsolete thinking; if it was made available online - even on youtube - and popularized by bloggers - it could have achieved something. With no extra cost to the makers or the current sponsors. As it is, it is a wasted effort.

I wonder who is at fault. Some government bureaucrat? The producers? Did they not even think of the possibility of free online distribution and reaching millions? Or are they constrained by some idiotic copyright issues? Either way, whatever effort and money went into making this documentary, it's unlikely to be seen by more than few hundred people in Poland (at best), and it certainly will not be remembered by anybody. A footnote in the Polish documentaries, and an item on the CV of people involved in its production. Yes, that's how we want our governments to spend money, right?

Here's hoping somebody will pirate the movie online. This way it may, just may, do some good.

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Voice of the Prokonsul by Piotr Konieczny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.