The startling story of Ryszard Siwiec, a man who, on a Polish national holiday in September 1968, immolated himself in front of thousands of people in a stadium in Warsaw. Drygas’s insightful film reflects on the rupture between official record and human history, the impossibility of absolute truth, and the malleable nature of collective memory.
The theme of revisionist history is prefigured in the film’s opening shot, a wordless sequence of uniformed officers taking turns in confiscating documents from a private residence to be destroyed on a bonfire. Cutting to a records clerk unlocking a remote storage room in order to retrieve incomplete archived reports on the investigation into Siwiec’s self-immolation – the dossier containing only a related citation for distributing flyers containing 'false information'. The juxtaposition between the labyrinthine odyssey through locked vaults and the retrieval of Siwiec’s sanitised files becomes a metaphor for an suppressed Cold War history.