Roma King (Michniewicz) will never forget her family’s escape from Soviet-occupied Siberia during World War II.
Against all odds, Roma’s father located where his family were in Siberia and hatched a daring plan to rescue them. Traveling at night to remain undetected by Soviet forces, King’s family would stick to shadows and darkness, hiding in forests as they attempted to flee.
She eventually told the tale of her family’s ordeal in her book, Footsteps in the Snow. The book has now been made into a docudrama film, PAMIĘĆ ŚLADÓW (which translates to Footsteps through the past). PAMIĘĆ ŚLADÓW will make its West Coast debut at the Laemmle, Santa Monica, this Sunday, with showings at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The film itself interweaves dramatic, staged scenes with documentary-style interviews, detailing King’s life with her mother and grandparents as they were relocated to Siberia from their family’s estate in Poland.
“It wasn’t something I ever hoped for but it’s nice that it’s happened,” the Santa Monica resident and retired UCLA student advisor said about the film. “I never expected a movie from my book and I’m thankful to God that somehow it happened. It’s a story that I wanted to share.”
King wrote the book after her retirement from UCLA, with her story eventually landing in the hands of a Polish film studio in Warsaw. The film was made possible by financing from the Polish government which is now very interested in chronicling the history of the forced relocation to Siberia of over 2 million Polish citizens from the eastern part of Poland at the beginning of World War II.
During production, King was on set keeping her story as true as possible, making adjustments to details large and small, such as correcting dates and changing the hairstyle on the actress portraying her mother.
She said even the smallest details in the story matter not only for the sake of her family, but to educate future Polish generations on the ordeals she, her family, and many others faced.
Telling her family story has been a passion project for King who has spent many years chronicling tales her parents would relay to her.
Recently, King had a private premiere of the film in Warsaw, Poland. 135 invited guests showed up to the upscale, formal dinner and screening, with some crying and later lining up to meet Roma to personally thank her for revealing a part of history that had been suppressed for the 40 years that Poland was under Communist rule.
When asked if she holds any resentment of that time in her life, unable to fully enjoy a childhood, King waves such anger away.
“It has been a good life,” she said. “Despite uncertainty and everything, my father always said embrace life, be happy with whatever you have. People have it harder, so be happy about everything.”
PAMIĘĆ ŚLADÓW will debut this Sunday, October 21 at the Laemmle, Santa Monica, with screenings at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.