- MessageDear Kresy-Siberia Group members I am posting on behalf of Aneta Naszynska her English version of the article she wrote on Jagna Wright, originallyMessage 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2007View Source
MessageDear Kresy-Siberia Group membersI am posting on behalf of Aneta Naszynska her English version of the article she wrote on Jagna Wright, originally published in Polish. As well as attaching the Word file I am inserting the text below, for those members who do not receive the attachments.RegardsStefan WisniowskiSYDNEY
Her enthusiasm was infectious
I remember my first meeting with Jagna. We met at her home in order to discuss a film project which I was to help her edit. She greeted me with a huge warm smile, and immediately plunged into a long, animated and engaging conversation. And so it was for the next ten yours of our collaboration.
Jagna was passionate and her enthusiasm was totally infectious. She managed to accommodate running a home and bringing up three children with her passion for Polish culture and history. She was interested in the missing chapter of European History, in events and people that had been rubbed out of popular memory. In particular, she believed that the story of the deportation of 1.7 million Poles by Stalin into the depths of Russia in 1940 must be told.
For five years Jagna tried to get a broadcaster or TV production company interested. They all turned her down, explaining that no one was interested in the Second World War anymore. They underestimated her determination. Jagna did not give up, and relentlessly continued to phone and write letters. But time was running out, and when she realised that the number of witnesses was dwindling fast, Jagna bought a camera and, with no prior film experience, began recording the tragic testimony of former Polish Siberian exiles.
And that is how we came to meet. For two years, in our spare time, we edited the film which no one wanted. Long after it was finished, The Forgotten Odyssey remained unseen and unknown (apart from private showings, usually in her home). Jagna would say, better a film that exists than one that does not. She joked that Churchill had put a curse on us because of the ignoble British role in this chapter of history.
Finally, after countless letters and phone calls, Churchill lost. The History Channel UK bought the film, followed by several other broadcasters.
The Forgotten Odyssey filled a huge gap. I will never forget the emotion on the faces of former deportees who would come up to us after seeing the film to express their gratitude that they had not been deported out of history. For their children, the film was often the only opportunity to learn about their parents tragic story, something which their parents had often been unwilling, or scared to, speak about. Inspired by the film, Stefan Wisniowski, the son of a deportee living in Australia, created an internet chat room Kresy Siberia. Jagna participated in the discussions enthusiastically, sharing with all her wealth of knowledge on the subject.
We immediately began our next film project. The Other Truth, a three part documentary about Polish Jewish relations, is the result of four years of painstaking work. By this time, Jagna was ill with cancer, but did not change her pace of life. In between frequent visits to hospitals and consultants, she continued to work, to run her home, entertain guests and to begin writing a book using the wealth of research material she had gathered during the filming of The Other Truth. Sadly, the book remains unfinished.
Jagna was a tireless proponent of Polish culture. Any British journalist who showed the slightest interest in Poland was to be targetted, encouraged and informed. She sent them her film, gave them books, and invited them into her home to win them over, as she said, through the stomach to the heart.
For me, above all, Jagna was a true friend. She knew how to listen, to sympathise, to help and advice. She had friends everywhere. Her warm and hospitable home in Acton was full each summer with guests from all corners of the world.
I adored her spontaneity and love of adventure. Once, during one of our long late evenings in the cutting room, I mentioned Tibet. A few months later we were on our way. Later, this Tibetan journey would give her the inner strength to fight her cancer.
Jagna did not give up. In every situation she tried to find the positive side, even comforting the consultants who were monitoring the progress of her illness. She would often say in every puddle you can find a scrap of blue sky. She fought bravely and never complained. The cancer destroyed her physically but it did not defeat her.
Jagna leaves a wonderful legacy and a vast number of close and sorrowing friends. We will miss her enormously. But for many of us who are from the Poland she loved so much, her determination, spirit and that infectious enthusiasm are, and will continue to be, an inspiration.
Jagna Wright, (nee Rafp) born 15 July 1950 in Gdynia, Poland, died 16 June 2007 in London. She leaves a husband and three children: Jamie, Sophie and Peter.