last year Mariusz Ceselec He took a fresh look at the life of the Polish comedy film director in the documentary All the Roles of Stanislaw Pareja, and now he has decided to present his rather extraordinary biography. Mieczyslaw Foggartists of the unforgettable hits: “Tango milonga,” “This Sunday Last Sunday,” and “Autumn Roses.”
– I remember him as the dean of Polish songs, a nice old man who sang old tangos. Geli Fogg remembers from a series of jokes, for example this one: A mummy was discovered in Egypt, scientists opened its lid, and the mummy got up from the coffin and asked: “And Mitech Fogg is still singing?”
– For me, Mieczysław Fogg was a fossil from distant times. I didn't know his story at all – admits Mariusz Ceselic, adding that while reading Vogue's biography, he came across a sudden war incident and began to deepen his knowledge. – I thought, what an interesting character – adds Cieślik.
He lists the achievements of Mieczysław Voj: – He was awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal because he saved his Jewish friends, including: Io Wisby and his family. He appeared 104 times at the barricades of the Warsaw Uprising. In September 1939, he and Hanka Ordonovna said goodbye to the soldiers who had gone to the front. He participated in the Home Army conspiracy, and in his apartment there were secret groups from Batory Junior High School.
– He was simply an incredibly brave and courageous man – emphasizes Cieślik.
But first there was a project for a musical.
– I was looking for someone interested in producing a theatrical performance about Mieczysław Fogg. If the Americans or the British had biographical productions of their stars, why wouldn't they make a musical about Mieczyslaw Fogg? I was about to finish it – with Emilian Kaminsky as Vogue – he had a great voice, he could sing the tango… It was supposed to be a biographical story illustrated with greatest hits. Since Emilian fell ill and it was no longer possible to do this at the Kamenica Theater, I began to wonder what to do next. I thought that since I worked with Pareja, I would suggest Vogue on TV. TVP accepted it with absolute enthusiasm. They were also aware that no film had been made about him in 45 years [ostatni dokument o Mieczysławie Foggu to zrealizowany w 1979 roku “Sercem śpiewane”] – Cieślik explains.
He points out that the documentaries or reports on Mieczysław Fogg produced so far have not provided the full picture of this complex character.
The problem is that he wasn't telling the truth there. Not that he lied, but he never told everything. Those were the times. The whole truth has not been told about the pre-war times, especially the participation in the Polish-Bolshevik War – stresses Celik in an interview with Interia, pointing out that few people knew that Mieczysław Fogg was a hero of the Polish-Bolshevik War.
– He participated in it, was injured, and in the end he was decorated. When I started to discover all this, it suddenly turned out that he was a very fascinating personality – admits Cieślik, who met the singer's grandson – Michał Fogg, during the initial work on the musical at the Kamienica Theater.
– I could not imagine that such a performance could take place without the consent of the family. It turned out that we got along well and from word to word we came to the conclusion that it would be good to take up the topic further and make a documentary – says Cieślik.
The impact of their joint work – Michel Fogg is not only the co-writer of the documentary “The Fogg Phenomenon”, but also the narrator – will be revealed on December 31 on TVP1 (5:30 p.m.).
The film shows Fogg not only as “the greatest singing star of the interwar period, or one of the most important figures in popular culture of the time of the Polish People's Republic.” Cieślik and Fogg also devote significant space to Mieczysław Fogg's non-musical activities.
– We discovered information revealed by theater critic Anna Miszkowska that Mieczysław Fogg collected money among artist friends for several years and took it to the ghetto to Jerzy Gorandot, trying to help Jewish artists survive. He may also have refused to sign to the popular list. We learned some things that were not known. What emerged, Cecilik says, was a portrait of a man with a dramatic resume.
Music lovers will be able to find out how Vogue began his singing career and what role the first Polish breakthrough group – Dana Choir played in it.
– They were pioneers. In everything. When they began their careers in the mid-1920s, they encountered the beginnings of the science of sound recording. Since they performed so well on recordings, they automatically became pop culture stars. Although it is worth noting that before the war, she was not earning much money in the emerging show business in Poland. Until the 1930s, Mieczysław Fogg worked as treasurer of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKP). To make a living singing, you had to work a lot – says Mariusz Celik.
He points out that Dan's Choir was the first band that we could hear not only in cabaret, but also in Polish cinema. – Previously, there were only soloists – he explains.
– Handsome, elegantly dressed, and good-looking whether at concerts or on recordings. They were somewhere between a band and a cabaret, and their repertoire also included something like acting studies. So they were showing show business stars in a new style. They paved the way – this is how Cieślik describes the distinctive features of the Dan Choir.
He reminds us that they succeeded first in Poland, then in Europe, and the biggest blow was in the Soviet Union.
– Then the art director Sol Hurok, who was very important in the American market and an actor, among others, found out about it. Arthur Rubinstein. At that time, there was no distinction between high art and popular art, the Dana Choir performed, among others, with the aforementioned Rubinstein and Ignacy Paderewski. When the Danowskis, as they were called, received their first offer to go to America, they were already a popular band in Europe. On board the transatlantic ship, they met the most popular band of adventurers in the world at the time – the Mills Brothers. There was a singing duel at the Captain's Party and the audience clearly chose the Polish band as the winner. In today's terms, the Mills Brothers were the most popular pop group worldwide. So they came to the USA where the Mills Brothers Invaders played, played in the biggest halls, appeared at the biggest titles and stayed for months – recalls Selleck.
We will also learn about all this by showing the film “The Fogg Phenomenon”.
As Mariusz Šilik revealed in an interview with Interia, the documentary “The Fogg Phenomenon” is only the first stage of the introduction to the legendary personality. Work is currently underway on a feature film about the life of Mieczysław Fogg. The production, which will be produced by the Documentary and Fiction Studio, will be directed by Magdalena Lazarkiewicz.
– It certainly won't be cheap to make a film about Fogg – you have to recreate a world that no longer exists. However, there were those who believed in this project. This happened along parallel paths. First, with the support of Michał Fogg, she wrote a treatment in search of a potential producer, and at the same time, Magdalena Łazarkiewicz was independently looking for someone with whom she could make a film about the life of Mieczysław Fogg. We met thanks to the director of WFDiF, Zbigniew Domagalski, who first talked about this film with Ms. Magda, and then with Michał Fogg. It turned out that we had a similar idea, and what's more – we wanted to tell about a similar part of his biography – the whole thing would cover a period of about 15 years of his life and would end right after the war. So it looks like I will spend 2024 working on this project – reveals Cieślik.
The documentary and feature film studio is the producer of Robert Glinski's “Figurant” (2023) and Krzysztof Łukaszewicz's “Raport Pilecki” (2023). In April, “Red Poppies” – the first feature film about the Battle of Monte Cassino – will be released in cinemas.
– It seems that the director of WFDiF, that is, the head of perhaps the largest Polish production company, is 100 percent convinced that a film about Vosges will be made. In January, work will begin on the script based on my treatment, which I will write with the director. When to take pictures, I have no idea. If all goes well, that will likely happen in 2025, Selek predicts.
Are there any candidates for the role of Mieczysław Fogg?
– Not only must a good actor be a good actor, a good actor must also sing. However, it will be a musical. So the actor must not only be physically similar, but also sing great. I don't know what Mrs. Magda's opinion is on this matter. Maybe a musician would turn out to be a good fit for this role? It will definitely be a big challenge to find an actor to play Fogg. We must remember that when we start the story, the hero will be 25-30 years old, and by the end of the film he will be a 45-year-old man. This guy has to be flexible enough to look good right then and there. Cecilik points out that no name has been mentioned yet.
So it seems that Mieczysław Fogg – after his recent musical revitalization and “playing the gramophone” – will be viewed by the cinematographer with a more positive eye. He also sang in the unforgettable song: “My love, I will come back.”
“Amateur social media maven. Pop cultureaholic. Troublemaker. Internet evangelist. Typical bacon ninja. Communicator. Zombie aficionado.”