When making this film, dedicated to the “hackers” of the Solidarity movement in Toruń, film Director Marcin Gładych adapted for the screen the bizarre tale of a group of scientists from the Solidarity movement, who hacked into and broadcast live from the communist Polish Television station. It took place in the autumn of 1985, during a live broadcast of Dziennik Telewizyjny (TV News), which made Służba Bezpieczeństwa (the Security Service), and the communist authorities, go into a frenzy.
The operation was initiated by two scientists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and the Polish Academy of Sciences, i.e. astronomer and oppositionist Jan Hanasz and mathematician Grzegorz Drozdowski. They set up their broadcasting equipment in the apartment of Elżbieta Mossakowska, a secretary at the Institute of Physics.
The system they built was capable of emitting television signals, which the scientists synchronised with the signals emitted by a transmitter of State television. This way, they “hacked” right into the centre of the regime’s news channel – Dziennik Telewizyjny. They broadcast two messages “Stop increases in charges, lies, and repressive measures. The Solidarity movement from Toruń.” and “It is our duty to boycott elections. The Solidarity movement from Toruń.”
The operation undertaken by the Polish underground movement created much publicity, even abroad. Buck Bloombecker, an American journalist, called the sabotage action in Toruń “one of the most-spectacular hacker attacks in the world,” in his book Spectacular Computer Crimes (1990).
Most probably the “hackers” were denounced. SB (Security Service) had been watching them, before their arrest. After detaining four of the five “architects of the conspiracy”, they stood trial. One of the lawyers defending the scientists was Jan Olszewski.
The film is composed of interviews with participants in the events, and supplemented with fictional reconstructions, archive footage, and animations. The film was shot in Toruń.
Apartments located in blocks of flats built in the 1980s were adapted for the purpose of the films (interviews with “hackers” took place in various locations, which were the apartments and university offices of the protagonists), as well as the block of flats on ul. Bartosza Głowackiego (the scenes taking place at the “apartment of the oppositionists”), interiors in the Collegium Maius of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, and the rotunda-shaped prison (the scenes of interrogations).
Hakerzy wolności / The Hackers for Freedom
Poland 2011, 31′
Directed by: Marcin Gładych, Krystian Wieczyński
Screenplay: Marcin Gładych, Marceli Sulecki, Radosław Garncarek, Krystian Wieczyński
Cinematography: Jacek Banach, Adam Fisz
Production: Gładych Movie, The Next Level Group
Festiwal Filmów Historycznych (The Festival of Historical Films) in Zduńska Wola – Grand Prix