In her first film directed at the Documentary Film Studio in Warsaw, Gryczełowska celebrates school children as they engage in extracurricular activities. The film follows a school trip of Warsaw scouts to the Masurian Lake District, where they organise a DIY ice-yacht race.
In early shots from a school in the capital city, the children seem to be under the supervision of their teachers. In comparison, once they leave for the countryside, they are given a lot of autonomy.
Gryczełowska applauds the young boys for entering dangerous competitions and builds narrative tension with their thrilling adventures. Then she shows the girls, who’d stayed behind, cheering the boys’ return to the camp.
As the story progresses, it quickly transpires that traditional gender divisions pervade among the young Poles, who already at school are socialised to internalise their predefined roles of the male and the female.
While the boys on the screen are fun and technically able daredevils, the girls appear quiet and supportive. The boys are active agents that drive the story forward, but the girls passively stand in the background, serving as fans for their male counterparts’ sports races.
Made before synchronised sound recording was available to Polish documentarians; the film uses a voice-over to narrate its entire story. The commentator’s words play to illustrative moving images with no dialogue.
Many of the captured events are carefully staged in front of the camera to impress the viewer with meaningful gestures and to enrich the dynamism of the adventurous competition.
Although the story is somewhat schematic and reminiscent of its recent socialist realist predecessors, the film nevertheless forms an early evidence of Gryczełowska’s storytelling talent. It is especially prominent when she gradually builds tension in sequences showing the boys competing not only against each other but also against the forces of nature.