Reviewed by Gordon Nary
Words may have a different intellectual, emotional, and sometimes spiritual response in many of us. For example, the word Holocaust may have a different response in those who may have only read about it, those who have visited Holocaust museums, those who may know the family of a Holocaust survivor or victim, and those who may have a family member who was a Holocaust survivor.
The word pogrom has a parallel response with the qualification that many of us may never have known about pogroms. Bogdan’s Journey is a documentary film that sears our mind with an unforgettable insight into the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual response to a pogrom by Bogdan Bialek - a Catholic psychologist and a resident of Kielce, Poland where forty Holocaust survivors were murdered on July 4, 1946 by the residents, after which the Communist government suppressed the murders which resulted in deep divisions within the city. Within three months of the pogrom. more than 75.000 Jews left Poland.
I was privileged to have viewed the film as part of the Chicago Jewish film festival who provided a memorable post-film discussion with Bogdan Bialek, Michal Jaskul the film's director and producer, and Father John Pawlikowski. Some of the audience members had relatives in Kielce and asked several questions.
The film details how Bogdan connected with children and grandchildren of the victims to help them embrace and accept their past, and to reconnect and reconcile with the Jewish community. The film features several people whom one may be moved to connect with, embrace, and comfort. Sadly, we learn at the end of the film that some of the featured friends of Bogdan in the film died recently.
Borden’s Journey is also a contemporary morality tale of how hatred can destroy who we are and who we may hope to be, and that this hatred that has become more virulent daily is parallel in many ways to the antiSemitism that preceded the Kielce pogrom.
Michal Jaskul mentioned that he was hoping for a national release of the film later in 2017.