Filming is under way for a biopic about Jerzy Popiełuszko, the popular pro-Solidarity priest who was murdered by Poland's communist secret police in 1984. Agnieszka Holland's To Kill a Priest from 1988 focused on the circumstances of his death, but director and scriptwriter Rafał Wieczyński seeks in his film Popiełuszko to examine the priest's entire life.
"It seems to me that too often we construe the person of Popiełuszko from the angle of the way he died," said Wieczyński. "I want to show how he lived."
The director intends to present the priest's life in the context of the most important events of Polish history in the 1970s and ‘80s. Adam Woronowicz has the leading role, and Zbigniew Zamachowski and Krzysztof Kolberger are also cast.
Shooting has already taken nearly five months. The first stage was completed in Warsaw, at Stanisław Kostka Church where the priest preached his fiery sermons and at the steel mill. Other church scenes were shot in Częstochowa.
The imposition of martial law on Dec. 13, 1981 was reconstructed in Politechnika Square in Warsaw last month but the crew has had to wait for snow to complete further outdoor filming. Shooting is taking place in Gdańsk, Bartoszyce, Bydgoszcz, Włocławek, Katowice, Kraków and Zakopane.
The budget of Popiełuszko is 12 million zloties (€3.3 million). Focus Producers is its producer and IF Max Film is its co-producer. The Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl) and Region Mazowsze co-financed the film.
The premiere is scheduled for October 2008.