New seminar on film, history and mourning

Poster for 'The General'

King's is hosting a new seminar series on 'Europe East and West: film, history and mourning'. Each seminar will be in two parts: a film screening and a 45-minute paper with discussion a week later.

The seminars will look at the unique role cinema plays in shaping the experience of mourning, and will focus on the relationship between contemporary cinema and war, repression, and genocide in Eastern and Western Europe. The seminars will also discuss film in the broader context of memory, forgetting, and forgiving.

The topic of the first seminar is the controversial death of General Sikorski, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish forces, in 1941:

  • 11 May: screening of The General: The Gibraltar Assassination Dir. Anna Jadowska, Poland, 2009.

    Gibraltar, 4 June 1943: General Sikorski, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish forces, is killed when his plane crashes into the sea several seconds after taking off. He had been a guest of the British Governor. Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash, and an inability to determine its cause, the investigating British forces resolutely declare it an accident.

    The film is based on the work of historian Dariusz Baliszewski, who has spent the past fifteen years collecting archival documents and questioning key witnesses. His conclusion: Sikorski had become a threat to the Soviet-British alliance. Sikorski refused to accept Stalin’s denial that he had massacred thousands of Polish officers in Katyn in 1940, and may have possessed documents that would have damaged Britain's reputation. There was no 'accident' in Gibraltar: the plane was loaded with bodies already killed at the palace by hostile Polish agents.

    This innovative and startling film reconstructs how the last days of Sikorski’s life would have looked like if Baliszewski’s theories are correct.

  • 18 May: Dr. Matilda Mroz (Dept. of Slavonic Studies) ‘Restless bodies, buried texts: Sikorski, The General, and the archive’

All films will be presented with English-language subtitles. Screenings and seminars will start at 5pm in Keynes Hall, King’s College. King's Fellow Dr. Alexander Etkind is sponsoring the seminars, but for more information contact Dr. Matilda Mroz (

5 May 2010