The film presents the story of the Żabiński family, the long-standing keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, already presented in Niki Caro’s The Zookeeper’s Wife. Yet, the story is so unique that it’s worth to be told again in the form of a documentary.
Its creator, Łukasz Czajka, interweaves archive footage with memories of the living witnesses to those events, helping the viewers understand the wartime fear and the heroism of the Żabiński family. Formally, the entire film is set inside the Zoo or parks that resemble the Zoo.
The outbreak of the war ceased Zoo’s dynamic development. The Germans deported to the Reich the most unique animals, such as bison, which were hoped to be used to recreate the aurochs, an extinct species of large wild cattle that died out in the 17th century. They also deported camels, hippos, elephants, and tarpans. The animals which remained in the Zoo were killed by the Nazis during hunting trips organized for entertainment. The Zoo without animals ceased to exist. In 1940, on the Zoo premises, a pig fattening house was opened for the needs of the local population.
To be continued…
Nominated, DOCU/WORLD (the international competition of feature- and medium-length documentaries which are longer than 30 minutes)
Best Film, Łukasz Czajka
A distinction for “artistic portrayal of the times when saving life was punishable by death”
Bei Doc Award
Golden Kapok Award
Best Art Doc Award, Łukasz Czajka (director)
Special Jury Prize to documentary film
Łukasz Czajka was born in Warsaw. He is a graduate of Wajda School. He also holds degrees in Political Science from the University of Warsaw and the Centre for Latin American Studies. He’s an experienced TV reporter as well as a creator and designer of video games, which have been translated into a dozen foreign languages. For four years, he’s been fascinated by the story of the Żabiński family and wartime events at the Warsaw Zoo.
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