Over 200 million people – this is the number directly linked to the phenomenon of migration. Borders are crossed for a variety of reasons but each person who decides to take this step carries with them their own unique story. How could all these dimensions of migration be shown without missing out on the most important one – the personal element? This is the task which has been put before travellers in the competition for the Paweł Edmund Strzelecki Award by the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, organised under the slogan "Man Above Borders". The creator of the best film or photo documentary will receive a 5,000 zloty award, together with the chance to present their work to audiences at the Kolosy National Meetings of Travellers, Sailors and Mountaineers in Gdynia.
Off the beaten track backpacking treks are growing in popularity with Poles as much as "all inclusive" holidays, and for many of them they are a way to search more actively for knowledge about the world and its inhabitants. Through its competition slogan "Man Above Borders", the museum would like to encourage the conscious observation of the multicultural character of the places visited. How do immigrants find their feet in a new reality? What are their life stories? What values do they introduce to the new places?
Migration is an incredibly diverse subject - the latitude and longitude of the migrant's new location and their place of origin, biography, personality or passion – these are all but a mere fraction of the factors which decide what competition entries might cover. The organisers have placed no limits on how the subject might be approached, everything may be of value, from documentaries which portray different people through those which try to look at the phenomenon of migration from a wider problem perspective. The most important criteria in selecting the winner are the uniqueness and gravity of the story, followed by technical excellence. There's no need for professional equipment, anyone who sends in photos or a short film can take part in the competition.
The first edition of the competition was organised under the slogan "Get to Know Your Compatriot!" and required the participants to create a documentary about a Polish emigrant. In 2014/2015 the scope of the competition was widened in order to show the Polish emigration experience in a wider,supranational context.
"The mission of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia is to popularise knowledge of Polish emigration history and we operate in full awareness of the universal character of this phenomenon. The process of migration is natural and has happened everywhere since the beginning of time. Peregrinations were known in the ancient or medieval world, or the 19th century. Today, as in the past, this phenomenon happens concurrently on all continents and changes not only the fate of millions of people and their families but also influences the societies and cultures which accept migrants. We are extremely curious as to the stories of Polish emigrants which will be entered for the competition because we are also part of this constantly migrating world", explains Karolina Grabowicz-Matyjas, director of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia.
The patron of the award is Paweł Edmund Strzelecki, the first Pole to embark on an individual research journey around the world, an outstanding geographer whose travels impress to this day in their scope and panache. He made his most important discoveries in Australia, describing new lands and mountain ranges and identifying coal, oil and gold deposits. It is thanks to him that the continent's highest peak bears the name of Mount Kosciuszko.