In the 1960s, she started to be identified as a documentarian who often uniquely explored subjects, which her national culture categorised as traditionally ‘feminine’.
Instead of rejecting the imposed notions of the female as a responsible caretaker, standing behind the camera Halladin accepted some traditional dimensions of femininity.
Consciously or not, by adhering to the supportive function of the female in her choices of subjects and empathetic representations, she strategically capitalised on social expectations.
This became most apparent when in some films, such as Alone in the World/Sami na świecie (1958), Absent/Nieobecni (1963) and Threshold/Próg (1975), she championed children’s stories.
Her other two most acclaimed children titles, First Grade/Pierwsza klasa(1960) and My Street/Moja ulica (1966) won awards not only at home but also at international film festivals in Mannheim and Tours.
Not exclusively dedicated to depicting children, the director produced a substantial body of documentaries that carried her authorial stamp of patience and compassion—traits that were among the desirable characteristics of the ideal Polish mother.
Although she didn’t have children of her own, her ‘sensitive gaze’ stood out in the male-dominated film industry and it has since been seen as her main contribution to the development of the documentary genre in Poland.
When later in her career Halladin shifted her attention to women’s experiences, she interacted with her grown-up subjects with the same empathy, respect and understanding.
Her later explorations of the female perspective in Fathers of a Town/Ojcowie miasta (1972), Marching/Z marszu (1976), They Were There/Były tam (1985) and Where from Where to/Skąd dokąd (1987) certainly hit more critical tones. Women in these films sometimes show how patriarchal limitations make them suffer, feel uncomfortable or restricted.
While in the majority of her work Halladin explored subjects that classify as ‘female interest’, she also tried to portray workers and peasants, whose situation was more often publicly debated in Poland under Communism.
In Two Naprawas (1964) and The Brave/Junacy (1967), she commended the successes of the common folk. One of her few films in colour, From 6 to 11 at Rosa’s (1963) creatively channelled her admiration for women working in a factory through silent observational shots.
However inventive, these films never won Halladin much critical recognition. Whenever she abandoned her trademark ‘feminine’ themes and documentary tactics, she was barely noticed by film reviewers.
In the last decade of her career, she also made historical archive films, such as Koszalin (1977), For the Town’s History/Do życiorysu miasta (1978), Main Square/Rynek (1982), Disappearing Tracks: Wrocław 1945/Odchodzące ślady: Wrocław 1945 (1987), but they never attracted much attention from critics, who often labeled them ‘conventional’.
Her most successful films go far beyond banality. She offers an insight into the lives of those on the periphery of the official discourse, mastering patient observations of the seemingly trivial, informing and enchanting with simplicity.
Elsewhere, subscription to traditional, fixed models of female identity could be seen as potential weakness, but working on many of her films, Halladin turned it into an elaborate creative strategy.