Release date1981 WriterKrzysztof Kieslowski, Hanna Krall (article), Hanna Krall (screenplay)
Short Working Day (Polish: Krótki dzień pracy) is a Polish film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. Written by Kieślowski and Hanna Krall, the film is about the workers protests in June '76 in Radom, as seen from the perspective of the local Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party. The film is based on real events, but the characters are fictional. Short Working Day was filmed in 1981, but had its official premiere on television only in 1996. During these 15 years, however, it was shown many times in film clubs and at special movie show-times.
In 1968, a young man addresses a meeting of protesters by condemning the firebrands who are agitating the students. Eight years later, in Radom, Poland during the June 1976 protests, the young man is now the local First Secretary of the Communist Party (Wenceslaus Ulewicz). He is facing a mob of strikers protesting a 69 percent increase in food prices by the central government. Demonstrations in the industrial towns of Radom and Plock quickly lead to the beating and firing of thousands of workers. The party secretary tries to appease the crowds of workers massing beneath his window. Despite the growing threat, he decides to stick it out at the party's office instead of making the recommended hasty escape.
While the protesters become increasingly hostile in their calls for a repeal of the price increases, the party secretary remains strong outwardly in his speeches. With bullhorn in hand, he believes he can talk and reason with the protesters. When he is alone, however, he seems lost in his private thoughts and fears. As the morning passes, the secretary becomes increasingly vulnerable because the central government refuses to yield to the protesters' demands. By the afternoon, the party secretary finally yields to the police chief's orders that he leave his office. As the secretary exits the building, the protesters set fire to his office furniture.
Five years later, the same secretary is on television explaining his actions during the June 1976 protests.
Wacław Ulewicz as provincial Communist Party secretary in Radom
Lech Grzmociński as commander of the Police
Tadeusz Bartosik as an activist trying to negotiate with the party crowd
Mirosław Siedler as activist of the Workers' Defence Committee trying to help the families of detainees
Zbigniew Bielski as striker, then activist of Solidarity
Paul Nowisz as official car driver of the secretary
Wojciech Pilarski as Judge
Mark Kepinski as Party's office secretary in Radom