Outgoing director of Polish National Film Archive threatens legal challenge against his successor

Outgoing director of Polish National Film Archive threatens legal challenge against his successor
Former director of the National Film Archive Professor Tadeusz Kowalski outside the Iluzjon cinema in Warsaw (photo from Facebook)

3 November 2015

The former head of the Polish National Film Archive, Professor Tadeusz Kowalski has accused the institution of a “flagrant violation in the law” in the appointment of Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogowska as his successor.

On 26 October Ms Sienkiewicz-Rogowska was unanimously selected as Prof. Kowalski’s successor by an 11-member jury convened by the Ministry of Culture. Two days later the appointment was ratified by the culture minister Małgorzata Omilanowska. However, Prof Kowalski has now alleged serious malpractice in Sienkiewicz-Rogowska’s election.

In a letter to minister Omilanowska, the outgoing director claimed that the objectivity of the election was compromised by Ms Sienkiewicz-Rogowska’s relationship with jury member and Film Archive trustee Agnieszka Odorowicz. Both women had worked together for nearly ten years at another public body, the Polish Film Institute, a fact which Prof Kowalski claims influenced Ms Odorowicz’s “surprising aggression” in supporting Sienkiewicz’s candidacy at the Film Archive. His letter also stated that if the election is not declared void he will lodge a formal legal complaint.

The dispute between Prof Kowalski and Ms Odorowicz has its roots in a series of aborted restoration plans at the National Film Archive since 2008. Prof Kowalski has repeatedly claimed that plans to move to a new headquarters, digitise film stock and upgrade equipment at the archive were forestalled at Odorowicz’s request, leading to “abysmal working conditions”.

Ms Odorowicz has issued an official response refuting the accusations. Speaking anonymously to Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, other members of the jury noted that Prof Kowalski also had a working relationship with other candidates, and that in the close-knit world of Polish cinema such a situation is inevitable. Minister Omilanowska has yet to respond.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza