Polish ruling party pressures cinemas to stop showing clerical abuse film

Expression

On 16th October 2018, UK daily newspaper The Telegraph reported that several cinemas in Poland had come under pressure from people close to the ruling Law and Justice (Pis) party to stop showing the film Clergy (Kler). The Pis president reportedly attempted to prevent a local cultural centre Ostroleka from showing the film. The cultural centre in Ostroleka did not include the film on its October list of showings. The film deals with the subject of abuse of children by members of the clergy, a taboo subject for public debate in deeply Catholic Poland and for the right-wing PiS party. Łukasz Adamski, a conservative film critic “says that despite these ‘incidents’, the fact that Kler was made and co-financed by a state-run institution, and now is widely discussed in Poland, is proof that there is ‘no censorship’ in the country.” Others, however, like Oscar-nominated director Agnieszka Holland, have warned of clear ideological pressure being put on artists by the PiS government.


Peaceful Assembly

On 11th November 2018, around 200,000 people took part in a march in Warsaw to celebrate 100 years of Poland’s restored independence. The march was originally planned by far-right groups and was banned on 7th November by the mayor of Warsaw, who said that the city had suffered enough from “aggressive nationalism”. In response, President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki decided to hold an official march following the same route as planned by the nationalist rally. On 8th November, a Warsaw court overturned the mayor’s ban. The opposition led by President of the European Council Donald Tusk held a separate event by a monument to Józef Piłsudski, one of most important figures in Poland’s fight for independence. 

In recent years the main independence march in Warsaw has been dominated by the far right. This year, some media outlets reported on sporadic firing of illegal flares and the display of occasional fascist banners. However, the extent of the divisiveness on display this year did not compare to last year’s xenophobia and racism. This year, reports indicated that the vast majority of the crowd was peaceful and waved standard Polish flags.