Judges under pressure

2021. Documentary, 87 minutes, dir. & DOP Kacper Lisowski, prod. Iwona Harris

In 2015 the Law and Justice Party (PiS) comes to power in Poland. The party’s leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, announces total reform of the state and seeks unconstrained power. Independent courts stand in his way.

“Judges under pressure” tells the story of defiant judges who stand in defence of the Constitution and the separation of powers. One of these judges is Igor Tuleya who withstands the pressure and issues verdicts that are unfavourable to those in power. For the government he is public enemy number one; for protesting citizens – the face of the judges’ resistance. In the film we see the consequences of his uncompromising stance, we look at how political pressure affects his life. At the same time, we witness the remarkable solidarity that is shown to him both by other judges and ordinary people. Meanwhile, a cruel illustration reveals the extent to which the rule of law has been dismantled. After the politicised Constitutional Court decides to severely restrict access to abortions, Poland is swept over by the largest wave of demonstrations in its history. Judges take to the streets hand in hand with ordinary people to defend of the rule of law.

Direction & Cinematography: Kacper Lisowski
Production & Production direction: Iwona Harris
Screenplay: Iwona Harris, Kacper Lisowski
Editing: Bartosz Pietras PSM, Marcin Sołtysik
Additional pictures: Piotr Bukojemski, Filip Drożdż, Paweł Kostowski, Andrzej Szypulski, Mateusz Wajda
Sound: Marcin “Bary” Popławski, Andrzej Andruszkiewicz, Przemysław Dzięgiel, Błażej Kanclerz, Zofia Moruś, Jarosław Sadowski, Dariusz Wancerz, Jakub Wołowiec, Maciej Wróblewski
Translation: Natalia Osiatynsk oraz Artur Harris, Norbert Tomaszewski
Music: Maria Peszek oraz barekprzestań, Fisz Emade Tworzywo, Kontrola W, Szumkot, TZN Xenna, WaluśKraksaKryzys
Sound recording & mixing: Kamil Sołdacki
Colour correction: Wiktor Sasim


Our protagonists are judges hated by the ruling party.

They have now become the accused in disciplinary cases for such crimes as wearing a t-shirt with the word “Constitution” and participating in an educational simulation of a court case. Alongside the judges we will also see lawyers and prosecutors, since the rule of law crisis has led to unprecedented integration in legal circles.

Igor Tuleya

Hated by those in power for his uncompromising verdicts and outspoken justifications. Member of the Iustitia Polish Judges’ Association.

Waldemar Żurek

One of the most persecuted judges in Poland. Member of the Themis Judges’ Association.

Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram

The lawyer and human rights defender, co-founder of the Free Courts initiative and the Justice Defence Committee.

Krzysztof Parchimowicz

The main face of the resistance to the politicisation of the prosecution. Former head of the Lex Super Omnia Prosecutors’ Association.

Krystian Markiewicz

Profesor of law at the University of Silesia and president of the Iustitia Polish Judges’ Association.

Since 2015, Law and Justice and its affiliate parties have been introducing the so-called "reforms" of the judiciary, which in theory were supposed to improve the judicial system.

First the Constitutional Court was taken over to do the authorities' biddings. Next, the functions of the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General were combined, more than 200 presidents of courts were replaced, disciplinary prosecutors loyal to the authorities were appointed, and a new National Council of the Judiciary was created, which was elected by politicians instead of judges. New chambers of the Supreme Court were created with the so-called neo-judges, nominated by the new Council of the Judiciary.

A number of changes have been made, the legitimacy and legality of which have been repeatedly questioned by the Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

After 6 years of this "reform", the average length of court proceedings increased from 30 to 70%, the new Council of the Judiciary was excluded from the European network of Councils of the Judiciary, and Poland was fined EUR 1 million euro a day for not complying with the rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU.

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure

Judges under pressure