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Poland's Walesa says ready for 'new revolution'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Polish revolutionary leader Lech Walesa, the subject of a biopic by director Andrzej Wajda that premiered in Venice on Friday, said he wanted a new revolution and hoped the film would inspire the young.

"Walesa: Man of Hope", shown at the Venice film festival, captures the 69-year-old's evolution from electrician to union boss to legendary protest leader.

The backdrop for the story, the rise of Walesa and his Solidarity trade union movement, is a riot-torn 1970s Poland that eventually threw off Soviet-bloc communism.

"Wajda always had a prophetic vision in his movies and here he manages to perfectly capture a message for the new generations; how to have a hero of our time," a jovial Walesa told reporters as he sat on a sunny terrace overlooking the sea on Venice's Lido island.

Walesa negotiated a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989, at a time when more than 40,000 Soviet troops were stationed on Polish soil. A year later, the union firebrand was elected president.

Walesa may have fallen out of favour with many Poles during his presidency, when he was accused of betraying promises, but the emotional film pays homage to the revolutionary spirit he once incarnated.

"I'm still active. The things we were fighting for are being realised right now," said Walesa, who continues to lobby for human rights around the world and voiced support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In the film based on an interview with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, Walesa -- played by Robert Wieckiewicz -- looks back on his stints in prison, his negotiations with communist authorities and his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize.

Portraying his growing hero status and relationship with his long-suffering wife, the film explores the courage of strikers at shipyards and the strength many drew from Pope John Paul II's rousing visit to Poland.

"Every day I felt stronger and knew I had to fight, I had to keep going," Walesa said after the screening.

"I started to like this feeling. Now my popularity has gone down I'm trying to find a new revolution to carry out," he added.

He also spoke of the difficulties faced in transitioning from communism.

"Making capitalism out of communism is like making an aquarium out of fish soup," he said.

Walesa said he had seen all of veteran director Wajda's films, and over the years "they gave me strength to keep going."

"Even when we were losing there was a message in the films that said we could change things.

"I wouldn't be who I am today without Wajda's movies. I wouldn't have been able to do what I did," he said.

The 87-year-old director, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2000, is most famous internationally for his World War II films "Kanal" and "Ashes and Diamonds".

He said "Man of Hope" was the third in his trilogy about how disillusionment with communism among workers helped bring the system down from within.

"I made this movie for those who are looking for a hero of our time," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130906/polands-walesa-says-ready-new-revolution