Rusthall Community Cinema
Films we all choose, watch, then discuss. A charitable entertainment hub run by volunteers.

By: Eugene | January 12, 2020

11th Januart 2020

One within the discussion group commented, "No one coughed or began to talk or leave their chair when the film was over. Looking around, during the film, we were all riveted". The cinematic beauty of the film held us. The spare direction, for most of us, satisfied what was unsaid. But say we wanted so we went to the discussion.


This was a love story based in the time of the historic Cold War of 1945-1963. The relationship between the main characters, Wiktor and Zula included all the characteristics of a cold war: obsession, polarisation, propaganda, deception, and self-preservation. The microcosm between the tested two leads could be seen on their national, Polish, scale, trying to invent its identity.


Zula comes into Wiktor's life as a young girl auditioning for a role in the singing and dancing troop that will perform the songs of the people, what will become the official music of Poland. The music will be propaganda for which the female dance choreographer will not stand by. But Wiktor sees an opportunity when he hears the troop will perform in Berlin among other touring stops - a way to escape to the west. One in the discussion group noticed that Wiktor was pragmatic while his lover Zula was more idealistic. However it is Zula as this young non-peasant girl who infiltrates the group of singing auditioners with her own cunning and story which attracts Wiktor. After Wiktor defects to Paris without her (she chickens out and doesn't meet him at the rendezvous) she marries an Italian in order to travel to Paris and see  Wiktor. She returns to Poland and this may very well be because she is idealistic, Polish in mind and spirit. There are some reminiscence here to the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being, based on Milan Kundera's novel.


The music develops along with the historical plot. We see a young peasant girl in her patched jumper early in the film singing Two Hearts, or Dwa serduszka, which is about unrequited love. We then see the song adapted to a symphonic stage performance for Polish Nationalism. Then we see Zula singing its jazz version in the Parisian club. This one song is in essence the subject of the film.



It is an axiom at RCC that audience numbers cannot be predicted, and this black and white film, not shot in widescreen format, in a foreign language to boot bears that out.  An audience some 30% larger than usual packed in to watch not just the main film but the shorts.  As usual the short films were selected to add spice to the discussion group as they were thematically related, but on this occasion the discussion group - perhaps 20 people strong - were satiated by discussing the main film alone.


A large audience and the biggest discussion group we’ve had for some time – Pawel Pawlikowski’s melancholy, romantic and stunningly filmed Cold War certainly got us talking.Very happily, we also welcomed some young people to the discussion.They found the film interesting and were sparked to find out more about the history of the Cold War.

Karen encouraged us to consider what Cold War meant to us – propaganda, suppression of truth, polarisation and deception were some ideas we shared.One member of the group shared his story of going behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1970s, remembering the bread queues and “feeling the oppression.”We then looked at this theme in the intense relationship between Wictor and Zula.Why could she not escape her past, leading her to leave freedom in Paris for her bleak Polish homeland?

We appreciated the fine black and white cinema cinematography with its boxy old-school ratio. This gave a sense of being trapped.One member of the group said that there was nothing spare in the filming and that the quietness of it “grips you.”“This feels like a place I’ve visited, a country in my mind,” he added.

A powerful part of the film was seeing the pure folk music and dance of the Polish people being subverted for political means. The unfurling of an image of Stalin on stage is a chilling moment.The song ‘Two Hearts’ starts off being sung by a peasant girl, is sung on stage in the Polish Mazurek production, is heard in Wiktor’s wild piano improvisation and is sung by Zula in a Parisian club, reflecting the path of the couple’s relationship. The highly choreographed Mazurek dance routines contrast with the freedom of jazz music in Paris and Zula’s wild dance in a nightclub to Rock Around the Clock.

We didn’t get round to discussing the shorts, which were on the theme of Challenging Relationships. Our main feature, described by Karen as “cinematically delicious” – provided plenty to talk about. The discussion group loved this film about these two ‘star-crossed lovers,’ based on the relationship of the director’s own parents.Looking forward to more deep discussions in 2020!


Category: Uncategorized 




Posted on : January 12, 2020

Rachel's recipe for Chocolate Babka.

Contains: eggs, gluten (wheat), milk, soya

This Eastern European yeasted cake with swirls of dark chocolate and cinnamon was made by Rachel Bain using a recipe from

The name Babka translates as Grandmother’s Cake in Polish.


• 150ml whole milk
• 140g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra to grease the tin
• 125g plain flour, plus extra to dust
• 125g strong white bread flour
• ½ tsp fine salt
• 40g caster sugar
• 7g fast-action dried yeast
• 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten (one for the mixture & one for brushing the top of the cake)

For the filling:
• 60g unsalted butter
• 80g soft light brown sugar
• 100g dark cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tbsp ground cinnamon


The cake will take about 4 or 5 hours to make due to the time needed for rising, chilling and proving the dough plus an hour’s baking time. The recipe also assumes you will be using a stand mixer.

Stage 1
1. Gently warm the milk and 40g of the butter until the butter has melted, but don’t let it boil.
2. Put the flours, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine.
3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and then pour the warmed milk and one of the beaten eggs into the bowl.
4. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined, then mix at medium speed with the dough hook for 15 minutes until smooth.
5. Turn the speed up slightly and add the remaining butter, a knob of butter at a time. Make sure that each knob of butter is incorporated fully before adding the next. This stage may take some time but don’t be tempted to soften the butter in the microwave as this will make the dough greasy.
6. Mix for a further 5 minutes until the dough is smooth, slightly sticky and very elastic.
7. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes until it has nearly doubled in size.

Stage 2
1. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Make the filling by gently heating the butter and sugar until melted, then adding the remaining ingredients and stirring until well combined.
3. Remove the filling mixture from the heat and leave to cool until barely warm. If the filling mixture hardens before you are ready to use it, just heat it up a little to soften.
4. Lightly butter a 2-litre loaf tin (approx. 25 x 13 cm).

Stage 3
1. When the dough has been chilled, tip it out onto a floured work surface.
2. Flour the dough and roll it out to a 28cm x 60cm rectangle. The dough will be very soft so move the dough often to prevent it sticking and be generous with flour if necessary.
3. Spread the filling mixture all over the dough.
4. Using a long edge of the dough, roll it up tightly like a Swiss roll.
5. With the seam underneath, cut the dough lengthways down the centre, leaving the halves attached at one end by about 4cm.
6. Twist the two strands around each other.
7. Lay the dough in the tin, from one end to the other and back, and then back again in a zigzag. It doesn’t have to look neat.
8. Cover the loaf loosely and leave in a warm place to prove for about 30 minutes. The dough should be ready when a gentle prod from your finger leaves a slight indentation.
9. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan.

Stage 4
1. Very gently brush the top of the loaf with the remaining beaten egg.
2. Bake the loaf for 55-60 minutes, loosely covering with foil after 25 minutes. Don't open the oven door before 25 minutes or the cake may collapse.
3. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. If the cake sinks a little when it cools down don't worry as this is normal.

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