The Last Witness film is based on the stage play by Katyn Witness, which in turn is inspired by the biography of Michael Loboda and his untimely death in suspicious circumstances in an orchard outside Bristol in 1947.The story begins in post-war Bristol, neophyte journalist STEPHEN UNDERWOOD is keen to prove his worth in a society where everyone is taught to know his or her place and not to question authority. He works for a local newspaper and yearns to break a big story while his editor, FRANK HAMILTON, is happy to keep him reporting on nothing more controversial than local community events. However, when Stephen stumbles across the suicide of a Polish soldier from the local Displaced Persons’ camp, he disregards Hamilton’s objections and follows his instincts.Thus begins Stephen’s journey into the unknown and his discovery that Michael Loboda is in fact the last witness left in the West who could testify to the execution of Polish nationals by Stalin’s secret police in 1940, with the further revelation of a diary which proves to be conclusive proof of their guilt. This leads Stephen to become embroiled in a dangerous and complex multi-layered conspiracy to suppress the truth about the killings.
DIRECTOR: Piotr Szkopiak
Piotr started his career at MTV and then subsequently worked at Sky TV as an interstitial director. During this time, Piotr also worked on a number of short films before writing, producing and directing, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, a 17 min thriller, which won the Best British Film award at the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers in 1995. It was also selected to play at the Barcelona Film Festival and was screened on Sky TV.
Then in 1995, Piotr became a freelance director and editor while writing and producing his first feature film Small Time Obsession, starring Jason Merrells. Small Time Obsession received a UK theatrical release in June 2000 and was selected to play In Competition at the British and Irish Film Festival in Cherbourg, France, and as part of the 2001 UK Film Series in New Zealand. International sales to date include Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Both Variety and The Guardian described Piotr as “a director to watch”.
Since 2003, Piotr has been working regularly as a director in television drama and has directed 20 episodes of EastEnders for the BBC, over 170 episodes of Emmerdale for ITV, including an hour-long special set in Spain, and 57 episodes of the award winning BBC continuing drama series Doctors. Piotr has also directed Heartbeat, Casualty and Coronation Street.
Piotr is a member of BAFTA, with two episodes of Emmerdale which he directed and were subsequently nominated for BAFTA TV Awards.
PRODUCER: Paul Szambowski
PAUL SZAMBOWSKI was brought up in South London and now lives in Bristol. His father was a teenage Reserve in the Polish Army at the outbreak of the Second World War, who managed to make his way to Britain in 1944 and was then retrained in the British Army Polish Corps in Scotland. He married and settled in London, working first as an Electrical Engineer then moving into teaching.
Paul’s interest in Film and Theatre was galvanised at Reading University and following his graduation, he wrote several plays including Moseley’s Purgatory, The Siege of Rutland Mansions, Ikon and Katyn Witness, based on the biography of Michael Loboda and his untimely death in suspicious circumstances in an orchard outside Bristol in 1947.
In 1995, Paul produced Katyn Witness himself and the play was performed at the renowned Man in the Moon pub on the King’s Road in London. The Guardian described the production as “a powerful new play” and What’s On (London) wrote “enthralling…as an expose of a horrific war crime, it is a must.”
PRODUCER: Carol Harding
CAROL has worked across television and film for twenty years. She has been producing for fourteen years and set up Vicarious Productions Ltd in 1997 to produce television drama and feature films after eleven years at the BBC. Whilst in this position, Carol Series Line Produced the £26m Emmy award-winning BBC1 series People’s Century.
Carol’s credits comprise drama, film, entertainment and factual programming including the flagship dramas, WPC56, Holby City, Afternoon Play and Doctors for BBC1; Feeder for Film London and Metrosexuality, Fugee Girl and Heterosexuality for Channel 4. During her career, Carol has worked on projects clearly recognised for their merit having been selected and nominated for, or winning EMMY, BAFTA and Rose D’Or Awards, or selected for Raindance, Berlin and Toronto film festivals.
PRODCUER: Natasha Carlish
NATASHA is a BAFTA award-winning independent producer with several documentary and drama credits to her name. She set up Dreamfinder Productions in 2002 and since that time she has produced over 50 short films including BAFTA award-winning Brown Paper Bag and BAFTA nominated Bouncer starring Ray Winstone.
In 2008 Natasha co-produced feature film SoulBoy, which enjoyed a very successful theatrical release in Autumn 2010. She has also produced social media feature, Turbulence, which is in post-production. Her television documentary credits include the RTS award winning The Man Who Wouldn’t Paint Hitler and Golden Montreux nominated ABBA: Bjorn Again. She has also produced over 50 episodes of BBC1 continuing drama, Doctors.