In fall 2005, Poland was watching a miraculous liberation of a 30 year old miner ZBIGNIEW NOWAK, who had spent 111h, 1000 m underneath the earth surface. For almost 5 days, he was waiting to be rescued after the explosion trapped him in a dark, 3 by 1,5 m cleft of Halemba mine.
At least i had a lamp, so I could read my watch. When the lamp gradually dimmed, I started counting hours by the beeping of my watch. The rescue was held out by danger of another explosion; the miner's relatives were loosing hope. Nowak stubbornly believed he will be rescue; he was craving to see his wife and daughter, which kept his spirit alive.I watched my life in a fast forward mode: remembered meeting my wife, my daughter being born, even my burial. I cried, I laughed, I chatted myself, I sang and was telling jokes. I had a friend; a rat that would come visit me but sometimes I could only hear it-- he says He smelled kinda old, but you don't choose, friends, right?! I was eating pages of my notebook and thinking it's a pretty good steak, kinda salty, tho. The rescue teams were struggling through layers of dumped rocks and chunks of iron covering the 200 m mine path where they still hoped to find Nowak alive. The hope was floating away minute by minute, dig by dig, up to the moment when a shattered voice was heard: gimme some water and an apple, please hold on Zbyszek, hold on, coming to get you - they yelled. They blindfolded me, took me up to the surface and I smelled the air. Beautiful freshness.I was free . I could smell the sea, though I only saw it on TV. Now, I want to go and sense if the sea smells the miracle. Months after the explosion, Halemba authorities decided to close the dangerous wall. 23 miners were sent to bring back an equipment worth millions of euro. They never came back. 9 months after Zbigniew Nowak was given a second life, another explosion took 23 other beings. Having heard there was another explosion, Zbyszek left home in his slippers -- his wife says. He left home and came back late the next day. We never mention it.

Nowak cannot come to terms whit what happened: I have a wife and a daughter, but I would give my life to save the others. Mine for the 23... Zbyszek doesn't go down since then, He works as an instructor on the surface spreading the mining profession on the youngsters who like to share with him:

They are the way they are, these young guys. We chat about women; they always ask if we love them, so I tell them to buy flowers or something sweet.

A lot has changed in Zbyszek's life. He won't fall asleep with the light off, need to have a bottle of water within his reach and flashlight in his locker; and an apple -- at least one -- his wife says.

dir Tomek Goldbaum - Wlazinski
dop Jakub Giza
edit Marcin Latanik
producer Anna Durka
sound & sound FX design Kamil Sajewicz
graphic design Krzysztof Kotlarski
color correction Jacek Bulik

watch more at wlazinsky.com

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