Krzysztof Kieślowski was a Polish film director and a screenwriter. In 1968 he graduated from Łódź Film School. After graduation, he worked in the Film Studio of Documentaries (Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych) in Warsaw, where he realized his own documentary productions: “Workers ’71: Nothing About Us Without Us”, “From a Night Porter's Point of View”, “Before the Rally”. From 1974 until his death in 1996 he was a member of “Tor” Film Group. Kieślowski received numerous awards at film festivals in Moscow, Cannes, Venice, Berlin or San Sebastian, among others. In 1995 he was nominated to Oscar film award for “Three Colors:Red” (Best Director and Best Writing). His best-known films include: “Camera Buff” (1979), “Blindchance” (1981), “A Short Film about Killing” (1987), “Dekalog” (1988), “A Short Film about Love” (1988), “La double vie de Veronique” (1991) and “Three colors” trilogy (1993-1994).
- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
In 1967, Sirje Kiin started to study Estonian philology and sociology at Tartu State University, after which she continued postgraduate studies. However, she could not defend her dissertation about the theory of mass communication. Sociology was not allowed as a research area in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Tartu State University’s Sociology Laboratory was closed in 1975, her research was declared a secret topic, and she was forced to sign an agreement to keep silent, promising not to publish any of her research findings. In this situation, Kiin gave up her career as a sociologist, from then on focusing on literary research and literary criticism. During the next few decades, she wrote several biographical studies of Estonian writers and poets, such as Viivi Luik and Kersti Merilaas. In 2010, Sirje Kiin defended her doctoral thesis on the life and work of Marie Under, one of the greatest Estonian poets, at Turku University in Finland.
From the second half of the 1970s, Kiin worked firstly as a sociologist, and then as head of the literary section of the weekly cultural newspaper Sirp ja Vasar (Hammer and Sickle). From 1978 to 1982, she worked as a deputy editor for the literary research journal Keel ja Kirjandus (Language and Literature). The position was a nomenclature post, which meant that the person holding it had to be a member of the Communist Party. Kiin was accepted as a candidate for membership of the Communist Party in 1979.
In October 1980, Sirje Kiin was involved in writing a letter of protest for the Estonian Communist Party, and collecting the signatures of 40 well-known intellectuals to sign the letter. She did not sign the letter herself, for it was agreed between the signatories that, as a precaution, only one member of a family could sign the letter. In Kiin's case it was her husband. Although the authorities associated Kiin with the letter, nothing could be proven. Nevertheless, she and her family were monitored half-openly for several years. In 1982, she was dismissed from the editorial board of the literary journal for ideological unsuitability, and was expelled from the Communist Party. During the 1980s, Kiin lived as a jobless dissident, writing works which she could not publish due to her political past.
In 1988, the writer Lennart Meri asked Sirje Kiin to work for the newly established Estonian Cultural Foundation, where her task was to improve relations with Estonians abroad. In the years 1990 to 1998, she worked as a freelance correspondent for the Estonian Service of Radio Free Europe in Finland. From 1999 to 2002, she was press and information adviser to the Pro Patria Union in the Estonian parliament.
Kiin has been a freelance literary scholar since 2003. She lives in the United States of America, and writes regular columns for Estonian newspapers abroad.
- Lake County, Madison, United States of America 57042
Lust Kirchewitz was the First Chairman of the Hootenanny-Club which was founded in East Berlin in 1966. After a campaign by the SED Central Committee against Anglicisms, the “Oktoberklub” emerged from it one year later and became the most famous song club.
Kirchewitz studied Cultural Studies under Dietrich Mühlberg at the Humboldt University Berlin. In the meantime, he was head and program manager for the Festival Of Political Song. He describes his relationship to the GDR as loyal but not uncritical. Having a socialist attitude, he had always hoped for a democratisation of the GDR. In 1993 he published “Folk, Chanson and Songwriters in the GDR”, an introductory overview of the singer- and songwriter movement in the GDR that is still considered a definitive reference today. In 1991 he was one of the founding members of the Association Song and Social Movements and today he is its chairman.
- Berlin, Germany
As a student of history, Kiryakov was involved in discussion circles organized by prominent and independent-minded Bulgarian historians, such as Nikolay Genchev, Aleksandar Fol, Vera Mutafchieva, and others. The Rila Monastery National Museum, where he was assigned to work, was a meeting place for critical intellectuals as well. Because of expressing critical opinions publicly and discussing “inconvenient facts” about World War II and Stalin’s repressive regime, Kiryakov was expelled from the Dimitrov Communist Youth Union (the Bulgarian version of the Komsomol). Consequently, Kiryakov became member of the first dissident organization in Bulgaria, the Public Committee for the Environmental Protection of Ruse, which was established at the House of Cinema in Sofia on March 8, 1988, after the screening of Yuri Zhirov's film Breathe about the ecological disaster in the town of Ruse (see the collection Ecological Protests against the Chlorine Pollution in Ruse). Kiryakov also joined the "Klub za podkrepa na glasnostta i preustroystvoto [Club for Support of Publicity and Reconstruction]"in Bulgaria, which was initiated by the philosopher and dissident (and later president of Bulgaria), Zhelyu Zhelev, in November 1988 at Sofia University (see also the Zhelev collection in the Courage registry).
Thus Boyko Kiryakov had been part of the so-called neformali (non-conformists) networks before the end of the communist regime. He contributed to the literary samizdat magazines Glas [Voice] and Most [Bridge]. Kiryakov participated in a broad range of oppositional activities, including democratic resistance, environmental protection, and critical (political) analysis.
Up until 1989, working as a historian, Boyko Kiryakov mostly studied monastic history and the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Bulgarian literature. After the political changes of 1989, which enabled research on the repressive structures of the socialist state and on opposition to communism, Kiryakov's main research field shifted to the history of emigration and political exile during the socialist era. Kiryakov is interested in the periodization of exile and the activities of émigrés and their organizations, upon which he has authored several publications. Kiryakov has also undertaken numerous initiatives and publications on the topic of the State Security and has been a member of archive projects exhibiting De-Stalinization as well as taking part in the De-Stalinization – the Dilemma of a Controversial Decade (2013) anthology. These activities and professional status as an archival expert demonstrate Kiryakov’s appreciation of the importance of preserving documents on the opposition to communist rule.Kiryakov’s understanding of the cultural opposition reflects his own broad activities against the regime. In the interview, Kiryakov highlights the political aspect of numerous cultural practices which strained against the narrow aesthetic norms of the political system, be it in the arts or sciences. Such acts contributed to the gradual erosion of the communist regime.
- Sofia, Bulgaria