This feature-length documentary gives a timeless image of the Jewish ghetto of Litzmanstadt, from the point of view of Czech Jews: witnesses of the war’s events, owners of unique archive photographs, and today’s inhabitants of the then “waiting room for death” for 200,000 people. Before World War II, Baluty was a feared crime-ridden neighbourhood of the Polish city of Lodz. Immediately after occupying Poland the Nazis established a Jewish ghetto there, initially for 160,000 Jews waiting for their death. A year later arrived more Jews from five Czech transports. Life in the poor working-class district of the industrial town of Lodz is marked by poverty, alcoholism, and unemployment. Baluty then and Baluty now have much in common. Images from the past and present of this stigmatised place are brought together by interviews with the area’s original and current inhabitants and reporter Henryk Ross’s unique photographs from the distant past.
On their way to Lodz, director Pavel Stingl and cinematographer Míra Janek ran into photographer Karel Cudlín, whose photographs, created during filming, make up an accompanying exhibit. By screening the film together with the exhibition, we have created a unique project in which Cudlín’s contemporary photographs are mirrored with Henryk Ross’s wartime images used in the film.