words by Michał Oleszczyk
Grand Hotel: Marcel Łozinski’s My Place (1986) Marcel Łozinski’s work remains relatively little-known outside of his native Poland (despite his 89mm From Europe having been nominated for the Best Documentary Short Oscar), which is unfortunate given his amazing talent and steady output. His ﬁlmography is ﬁlled with gems, of which one is especially close to my heart and which I’d like to introduce to a wider audience.
Łoziński’s My Place (Moje miejsce) is one of my favourite documentary shorts of all time: a witty portrait of the legendary Grand Hotel in Sopot, focusing on its employees and on the larger system of power they belong to. Detailed accounts of how institutions work are usually quite lengthy, but Łoziński takes a mere 15 minutes to give us an extensive tour of the place, showcase its impressive architecture, as well as introduce more than a dozen characters in a way that makes each of them memorable. e film’s brisk tempo is stressed by the sound of a metronome, ticking on the soundtrack almost constantly and alerting us to the beauty of a rhythmical, well-tailored piece of short cinema. e picturesque hotel itself, located at the Polish seaside, first opened in 1927 as a visible sign of opulence for the area of Gdańsk (known as the backdrop of much of e Tin Drum). e towering, beautiful and supremely spacious building has a fascinating history and had for years served as an unwitting reminder of Polish 62 WOSH by Daazo.com
non-communist past. e building not only provided a temporary home to the likes of Charles de Gaulle, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker, but was also used briefly as Adolf Hitler’s headquarters aer the invasion of Poland. None of this is even mentioned in the film, but the building’s past is evoked by means other than a direct account: it slowly emerges from the building and the people itself, almost as if it were oozing from the stately walls and ubiquitous carpets. Łoziński structures his movie as a series of portraits of individual employees of the hotel, complaining about everyone else’s ineﬃciency, and defining his or her own role as the most crucial in the entire establishment. It’s only fitting that the very first employee we see is the stoker shovelling coal into the furnace: not only does Łoziński start his odyssey at the (literal) lowest level of the building, but he also reveals that the stoker actually comes from a aﬄuent and highly educated family, deprived of all its
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