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Showing posts with label Ewa Krzyzewska. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ewa Krzyzewska. Show all posts

05 April 2014

VEB Progress Filmvertrieb

Behind the Iron Curtain, there was an interesting film culture. The cinemas of Poland, Russia, East-Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia produced several film classics during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that fared very well at international film festivals. In Poland, there was also a massive culture of film posters. The best graphic artists of the country designed quite freely innovative images that were spread by hundreds of thousands to every town and village in the country. East-Germany and Romania were the specialists in film postcards. VEB Progress Filmvertrieb had the monopoly on film distribution in East-Germany and produced thousands of wonderderful star postcards to help promote the films.

Yves Montand
Yves Montand. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 807, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Nicole Courcel
Nicole Courcel. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 808, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Gérard Philipe
Gérard Philipe. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 73. Photo: Franco-London-Film S.A. Publicity still for Le rouge et le noir/The Red and the Black (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954).

Hildegard Knef
Hildegard Knef. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, nr. 7/319. 1957. Photo: DEFA.

A State-owned Company


Progress was founded in 1950, under German-Soviet management. It was a cooperation of the Russian Sovexport and the East-German DEFA film distribution.

The firm, which still exists, was located in the Jäger Strasse 32 in East-Berlin, in the building of the DEFA Studios for newsreels and documentaries. In 1955, Sovexport retired as a partner and the Progress Film-Vertrieb was transformed in a state-owned company.

In the following decades, Progress produced to promote its films thousands of posters, film programmes and also postcards in different sizes. Regular formats of these 'starpostkarten' were 9 x 13 cm during the 1950s and later 10 x 14,5 cm. These cards had a white edge below the photo. In the 1970s, there were also series with colour postcards and A5 format cards (14,7 x 20,7 cm).

I like the Progress Starpostkarten because they gave a unique view on the popular East-European film stars of the period.

Gojko Mitic for instance, the most famous Indian in Eastern Europe. Between 1966 and 1984, the muscular Serbian actor played in numerous Westerns made in East-Germany.

Or Angelica Domröse, who played the unforgettable Paula in one of the biggest hits of the DEFA, Die Legende von Paul und Paula/The Legend of Paul and Paula (Heiner Carow, 1973). Her co-star Winfried Glatzeder played Paul.

Angelica Domröse
Angelica Domröse. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2091, 1964. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Klaus Fischer.

Winfried Glatzeder
Winfried Glatzeder. Big East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 163/73, 1971. Retail price: 0,50 M. Photo: Linke.

Iurie Darie (1929  –  2012)
Iurie Darie. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2703, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 M. Photo: Balinski.

Cox Habbema
Cox Habbema. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 3307, 1968. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Reinke / DEFA. Publicity still for Wie heiratet man einen König (1968).

Gojko Mitic
Gojko Mitic. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2930, 1967. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Pathenheimer / DEFA.

Daniel Olbrychski
Daniel Olbrychski. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 117/73, 1973. Retail price: 0,20 M.

A Bit of Ostalghia


The GDR required that 60% of the by Progress distributed films should come from socialist and 40% from non-socialist countries.

So Progress also produced many cards of British, French, Italian and West-German films and its stars. Left-wing stars like Gérard Philipe, Yves Montand and Vanessa Redgrave were obviously popular in East-Germany.
The foreign photographers were not mentioned on these postcards. The only photo credit was 'Progress'. East-German photographers whose work often was used for the Progress cards were Kurt Wunsch and Gerhard Puhlmann in the 1950s , Ludwig Schirmer and Klaus Fischer in the 1960s and Günter Steffen, Peter Söllner and Ute Mahler in the 1970s.

Perhaps surprisingly, Hollywood was a permanent guest in the GDR too. American films were loved by the public, but in the 1950s and 1960s they were only hestitantly imported. This was not only for political reasons. The licenses for the major Hollywood films were expensive for the East-European countries.

In the 1970s more Hollywood films were presented in the East-German cinemas, but with a delay of sometimes ten years. In the early 1980s, the proportion of non-socialist films had grown in some cities to 65% and the share of American films to 23%.

Now, more than 25 years later since the last Progress postcards were produced, there are many collectors like me.

A bit of Ostalghia?

Armin Mueller-Stahl
Armin Mueller-Stahl. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2254. Photo: Schirmer.

Eva-Maria Hagen
Eva-Maria Hagen. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2249, 1965. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Schwarzer.

Anna Prucnal
Anna Prucnal. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2259, 1965. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Schwarz.

Ewa Krzyzewska
Ewa Krzyzewska. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2530, 1966. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Balinski.

Angelica Domröse
Angelica Domröse. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 4/F/73, 1973. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Linke.

Next week: the Romanian star postcards of Casa Filmului Acin.

Source: Philipp Humpert (Amerika. Werkleitz festival) (German), Hans-Jürgen Furcht (Archiv Starpostkarten / Schauspielerfotos) (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

03 December 2011

Ewa Krzyzewska

Polish actress Ewa Krzyzewska (1939 – 2003) was a beautiful and fascinating star of the East-European cinema in the 1960’s. Her most famous film was also her debut, Andrzej Wajda’s masterpiece Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2530, 1966. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Balinski.

Atomic War Bride
Ewa Krzyzewska was born as Hanka Ehrenkreutz Krzyżewska in Warszawie (Warsaw), Poland in 1939. Her father was the poet Julius Krzyżewski. She studied acting at the Państwowe wyższe szkoły teatralne - PWST (Academy of Dramatic Arts) in Krakow. During her first year at the PWST she worked on the film Kalosze szczęścia/Lucky Boots (1958, Antoni Bohdziewicz). She was noticed by Janusz Morgenstern, assistant to director Andrzej Wajda. Wajda invited her to play the role of the attractive barmaid Krystyna Rozbicki in his now classic war drama Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Andrzej Wajda). The film, based on the 1948 novel by Polish writer Jerzy Andrzejewski, completed Wajda's war films trilogy, following Pokolenie/A Generation (1954) and Kanal/Sewer (1956). At Rovi, Hal Erickson writes: “Like most of Polish director Andrzej Wajda's best films, Ashes and Diamonds draws on his personal experiences in the Resistance during World War II. Zbigniew Cybulski, the director's favorite leading man, plays a young underground fighter told to kill a Communist leader on the last day of the war. This blend of idealism and defeatism won numerous awards and brought Wajda international acclaim”. In 1960 Krzyzewska graduated from the PWST. That year she played a part in the Yugoslavian Science Fiction film Rat/Atomic War Bride (1960, Veljko Bulajic) about the horrors of the atomic weapon era. During the early 1960’s she played leading parts in such Polish films as the drama Zaduszki/All Soul’s Day (1961, Tadeusz Konwicki), the thriller Zbrodniarz i panna/The Criminal and the Lady (1963, Janusz Nasfeter) again opposite Zbigniew Cybulski, and Zvony pre bosých/ The knell of the tramps (1965, Stanislav Barabas). In the Rumanian fantasy-comedy Faust XX (1966, Ion Popescu-Gopo), she was She-Devil Margueritte, a nightclub singer, who entertains Faust (Emil Botta) and his young assistant (Iurie Darie) in the gateway to Hell. That year she also played a small but memorable role of a beautiful Jewish girl in the historical drama Faraon/Pharaoh (1966, Jerzy Kawalerowicz) with Jerzy Zelnik as Ramses XIII, and she appeared in the adventure drama Zejscie do piekla/The Descent to Hell (1966, Zbigniew Kuzminski).

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1807, 1963. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2716, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2163, 1964. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

A Classic Femme Fatale
The introvert Ewa Kryzewska did not like to talk about herself and seldom gave interviews. Therefore she had for many filmgoers a fascinating, mysterious air. In the busy years 1962 - 1967, Krzyzewska was also working on stage for the Teatru Dramatycznego (Warsaw Dramatic Theatre). But then there was an hiatus in her film and stage career. In 1971 she returned to the cinema in a small role in the drama Akcja 'Brutus'/Operation 'Brutus' (1971, Jerzy Passendorfer). That year she also appeared in the romantic comedy Dzieciol/Woodpecker (1971, Jerzy Gruza) and in East-Germany she played the lead role in Liebeserklärung an G.T./ Declaration of love to G.T. (1971, Horst Seemann). She also reunited with director Tadeusz Konwicki for the drama Jak daleko stad, jak blisko/How Far, How Near (1972). Her final film was Zazdrosc i medycyna/Jealousy and medicine (1973, Janusz Majewski). Justyna Kobus writes at the Polish site Teatry Art that Krzyzewska's part as “a beautiful, but unfaithful wife of a wealthy entrepreneur (Mariusz Dmochowski) seemed written especially for her. The film was an acclaimed screen adaptation of a 1930's novel by Michael Choromanski and its heroine, a classic femme fatale, disturbingly and sensually performed by Krzyzewski, passed into the history of the cinema.” After this sensational turn, Krzyzewska suddenly retired from acting and left Poland with her husband, diplomat Boleslaw Kwiatkowski, a specialist in international law. They lived in several countries, including Syria, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, and Tanzania. She worked for a short while as the head of the Radio Library at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In the US she also worked as a beautician, fashion designer, and real estate agent. Later the couple moved to Spain. In 2003, Ewa Krzyzewska died of the injuries sustained in a car crash in southern Spain. Her husband died on the spot of the car crash. She herself died two days later in a hospital. Ewa Krzyzewska was only 64.


Scene from Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (1958). Source: abudab (YouTube).


Scene from Faraon/Pharaoh (1966). Source: Poltax2 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (Rovi), Justyna Kobus (Teatry.Art.pl) (Polish), Filmweb.pl (Polish), Wikipedia (Polish) and IMDb.