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Review: The Boot Factory (2000)

Directed by: | 87 minutes | documentary | Featuring: , , , , Wojtek, Anka, , , , , Ges, , , , Marcin, , Bisping, , , Pan Stefan, , Kaska

Lukasz and Wojtek have set up a boot factory without any start-up capital or relatives serving as wheelbarrows. They make the boots together with Piotr. This is largely done by hand. They sell them to people on the street or to customers who pass by the factory. They then warn that the boots will stretch another half size and that they can also go to them for repair. Before the arrival of this truly Polish product, everyone was wearing Romanian boots.

Lukasz is the businessman who deals with the purchase of good leather or the right needles. He comes up with something to increase production, speaks to his friends and new employees about their work ethic and is good at organizing both business and private. Wojtek has been friends with Lukasz for many years. By their common struggle to rise above poverty, they have developed a close bond. But Wojtek’s drug use keeps getting worse, much to Lukasz’s annoyance.

When Wojtek has been rehabilitated by Lukasz, he resumes his work in the factory. Piotr marries his pregnant girlfriend and moves into a flat. This only works for a short time. He is concerned about Wojtek’s drug use, but in the meantime he uses himself more and more. He sabotages his drug addiction attempt by running away from the clinic. “The Boot Factory” is a largely black and white documentary about a group of friends who are busy with money, work, , parties, women, living space and drugs. Actually not that different from many other groups of friends around the world. But what makes it so fascinating to be an eyewitness to their day-to-day worries is that, given their anarchist way of life, you would expect them to live on benefits, for example, to blow up the system from within. Or that at most they would trade in drugs of which they themselves are the largest buyers. What you see, however, are people who practice a craft with dedication. They party like animals and go crazy at a punk concert, but after that they just make boots again. And this with a seriousness and knowledge that is almost endearing, especially because of the great contrast with their fierce appearance and large intake of drugs and alcohol.

“The Boot Factory” is fascinating because of the combination of the unusual subject matter and the total openness with which the friends have let Kowalski portray their good as well as bad moments.

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