‘Portrait of a Soldier’ now available on iTunes and DVD!

Delighted to announce Portrait of a Soldier film is now released on iTunes and DVD!

Watch Portrait of a Soldier trailer:

The response to the film has truly been amazing – every indie filmmakers dream! Read some of the reviews here:

“Profoundly moving and mesmerising… ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ simply must be seen”

– Joanna Ciechanowska, Nowy Czas


“Portrait of a Solider” is a thoroughly remarkable film. Combining sumptuous production values, searing original footage and the poignancy of Wanda’s own recollections, it provides a new and illuminating viewpoint of one of the bravest and most brutal military campaigns of World War Two. I urge you to see it.”  

   – Roger Moorhouse, historian and author.


“Portrait of a Soldier is a hard-hitting documentary… delivers a complete history of this important chapter of WW2”

– George Clode, Military History Monthly


Portrait of a Soldier film is available on iTunes: Here!

DVD is available for purchase through the films distributor, Journeyman Pictures: Buy DVD here!


More Press and Reviews:

Read Roger Moorhouse’s full review (in English) on  blog: historian-at-large

Article in Polska The Times (in Polish) online: Here!

Article at Polska.pl web portal English language version and Polish language version

Interview in English for New Eastern Europe issue 6/15 Here!

For more press and reviews please visit website: Here!

Portrait of a Soldier – Screening at Warsaw University

On August 2, 2015 ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ was screened at the University of Warsaw.


Wonderful to see so much interest in the film! Brilliant audience – and such a pleasure to be able to hold a discussion and Q&A after the screening together with the films hero, Wanda Traczyk – Stawska. Thank you to everyone who helped to organise the event – and to everyone who came to see the film!



Watch TVP Warszawa News Clip from the screening at Warsaw University: here!

Portrait of a Soldier is now available on iTunes and DVD!

Portrait of a Soldier – Screening at Warsaw Rising Museum

Earlier this summer ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ was screened at the Warsaw Rising Museum. It was an absolute delight to hold a screening and Q&A of the film to such a wonderfully warm and embracing audience! Thank you to everyone who came to see the film!



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Watch TVP Warszawa News clip from: Warsaw Rising Museum on the 13 July, 2015!

Portrait of a Soldier film is now available on iTunes and DVD!

Portrait of a Soldier – Posters

Posters for ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ documentary.

Concept inspired by ‘traditional’ white paint / brick texture  imagery  and the ‘Poland Fighting’ anchor symbol  – as painted by the Polish resistance movement during the occupation. The brick colour palette is also representative of the red and white armband worn by the Polish Home Army, during the Warsaw Uprising 1944.

Concept, Art Direction and Photography by Marianna Bukowski. Graphic Design by Jack Newman.

English and Polish Versions.





For more information on ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ documentary  – please visit website here!


Like ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ on Facebook – click here!


Portrait of a Soldier – Polish Collage Posters

Taking inspiration from classic / retro Polish film poster design – these are two collage version posters for the forthcoming documentary ‘Portrait of a Soldier’:

The first concept is based on the Coat of Arms of Warsaw – ‘Syrenka’ (‘Little Mermaid’).



The second concept is based on Poland’s military and cultural heritage of “Winged Hussars” (16th-18th Century Polish cavalry in the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).

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Concepts and Design by Marianna Bukowski.

For more information on ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ documentary please visit website here!

Like ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ on Facebook – here!

Wola Insurgents Cemetery – 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising 1944

Many beautiful events were held in Warsaw at the start of August, to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising 1944.

Amongst them, a very special ceremony was held at the Warsaw Insurgents Cemetery in Wola. At this cemetery, over 100 000 people lay buried; soldiers together with civilians, the majority in graves marked ‘unknown’.

The hero of forthcoming documentary ‘Portrait of a Soldier’, Polish Home Army veteran Wanda Traczyk – Stawska, has since 1947, as ordered by her commander, fought for the recognition, restoration and memory of the fallen at this cemetery.

As the long-awaited restoration work is now underway, on the 1st of August 2014, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski held a very moving speech in memory of the fallen and 70 years after the Rising,  acknowledged Ms. Wanda Traczyk – Stawska’s mission accomplished.

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The President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski and Home Army veteran Wanda Traczyk – Stawska at the Insurgents cemetery in Wola, Warsaw on the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising on 1st of August 2014.


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For more information on ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ please visit website here!

Like ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ on Facebook here!



Bekiesz: Ancestry and Fashion – 16th Century Style…

My great-great grandmother was Maria Bekiesz, the last descendant in Poland, whose lineage traces back to Kasper Bekiesz. As a young girl, when I asked my grandmother about our family history, she wrote a letter to me, about Kasper Bekiesz, and said that it is good that I’m asking and that I want to remember him – and so, I have decided to share his story with you here:

Kasper de Korniath Bekiesz was a Hungarian nobleman born in 1520. He lived in Transylvania, in a castle called Fogaras/Fogarasz. After the death of the King of Hungary, Jan II Zygmunt Zápolya / John Sigismund Zápolya, in 1571, he fought Stefan Bathory for the throne of Transylvania.

Kasper Bekiesz

Portrait of Kasper Bekiesz (1520-1579/80) . Wearing a headdress with great panache! And in addition to such a stylish hat, I believe he is also here seen wearing the coat – a “Bekiesza” – that bears his name. (Anonymous plate reproduction before 1861. Wikimedia Commons)

My grandmother writes (to my then 8-year-old self) that Kasper Bekiesz was “cheerful, brave and courageous – and that he could fight. He also liked to dress well”… but more on this later!

In his testament, John Sigismund Zápolya, left the Voivode of Transylvania to Bekiesz, but the will was not honored and Stefan Bathory was elected as voivode.

Supported by Maximillian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Bekiesz gathered an army and rebelled against Bathory – but was defeated.  He started another rebellion in 1575 – but was again defeated.

In 1575 Stefan Bathory was elected, and later, in 1576, crowned King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, becoming the ruler of the Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth.

With the death of Maximillian II in 1576, Bekiesz decided to reconcile with Bathory – becoming his close friend and advisor.

He joined the Livonian campaign of Stefan Bathory in the Livonian War against Ivan ‘The Terrible’ of Russia.

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Stefan Bathory at Pskov / Batory pod Pskowem. Painting by Jan Matejko, 1872. (Royal Castle in Warsaw / Wikimedia Commons)

The Bekiesz family crest is a black eagle claw, with a half-moon crescent and a star – additions granted by Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire!

Stefan Bathory assigned Bekiesz castles and Lanckorona, but in 1579…  or 1580 (accounts differ) – Bekiesz caught a cold, fell ill and died.

Although in our own family legend, his death has a somewhat more romantic end – involving a knight tournament and the pursuit of a lady’s heart!

He left his two sons, Władysław and Gabriel, in the care of nobleman and magnate Jan Zamoyski.

Not allowed a church burial, Kasper Bekiesz, was buried on a hill – Bekes Hill in Vilnius (na górze pod Wilnem, zwanej odtąd Bekieszową). But in 1838 Bekes Hill was washed away by the Vilnia River (rzeka Wilejka).

…Whilst I have not found the following in any source other than Wikipedia, as it makes for a curious twist,  I include it here: Apparently, with the hill’s erosion, in the remains from Kasper Bekiesz burial only a skull was found – wearing a headdress made of golden velvet!



And this, stylishly, leads me to another part of Kasper Bekiesz legacy: The “Bekiesza” coat – as it is still known to this day!

My grandmother wrote describing this fur-lined coat, that Bekiesz had made for travelling and hunting, and I remember as a child wondering what this coat would actually look like – and if it got very dirty when hunting…

Stefan Czarniecki

A red version of the Bekiesza coat can be seen worn in this painting by Brodero Matthisen, 1659: Portrait of Stefan Czarniecki, Field Hetman of The Crown.  Stefan Czarniecki 1599-1665, was a Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth general and Nobleman. (Royal Castle in Warsaw /Wikimedia Commons)

The “Bekiesza“ coat would become a part of the Polish cavalry uniform in the 19th Century and was worn in the November Uprising of 1830-1831, against the Russian Empire. Following the defeat, escaping Polish soldiers brought the coat to Prussia – and a later version can be seen in the painting below: Im ersten Semester, by Georg Muhlberg, 1900. (Wikimedia Commons)


Ending on a different note, I will mention, being quite fond of many Russian writers, that in Nikolai Gogol’s short story  ‘How Ivan Ivanovich quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich’ – the opening line is: Славная бекеша у Ивана Ивановича! отличнейшая! А какие смушки !

In Polish translation: Ładny Bekiesz Iwan Iwanowicz! Doskonały! A co jagnię!

…and in English: Nice Bekiesz Ivan Ivanovich! Excellent! And what lambskin!

Unfortunately, like so many other things, in my own Penguin copy of the story – this has been entirely lost in translation, reading only: You should see Ivan Ivanovich’s marvelous short fur jacket!  It’s fantastic! And the quality of the sheepskins!…