Poland Film Festival 2013 at Shibuya Theater Image Forum

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Poland Film Festival 2013 (Nov.30 – Dec.13) introduces 10 films from the 1960’s in Poland and also seven masterpieces of the legendary Polish film director, Andrzej Wajda. The encore screenings will allow you to catch up with the films screened in the past film festival. The Poland Film Festival also screens three Japan Premieres this year as well as two selections of animations, 7 episodes each.

MILCZENIE (SILENCE)
1963/102 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director:Kazimierz Kutz, Scriptwriter: Jerzy Szczygiel, Cinematographer:Wieslaw Zdort

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Set in 1945 Poland film shows the story of a boy accused unjustly of trying to blow up a priest with a bomb and who is blinded in an explosion. The priest knows the boy is innocent, but afraid he will lose his stature and hero-worship by revealing that fact. Boy eventually overcomes the torment and goes back to life; the situation, however, remains unresolved due to the silence of the priest. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director: Kazimierz Kutz
Exceptional film and theatre director, screenwriter. Born on the 16th of February 1929 in Szopienice, in the region of Silesia. In 1953 he graduated from the State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź. Between 1979 and 1982 he was a lecturer in the Department of Radio and Television at the University of Silesia. In 1981 he became president of the Śląskie Towarzystwo Filmowe (Silesian Film Society), of which he was a co-founder. In the same year he was elected chairman of the Porozumienie Środowisk Twórczych Regionu Śląskiego Solidarności (“Solidarity” Alliance of Creative Communities of the Silesian Region). He was a participant of the “Solidarity” Trade Union sponsored Cultural Congress that was interrupted on the day Martial Law was introduced in Poland.

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Among those interned by the country’s new military rulers, he was released after a few days. To protest the military attack on the “Wujek” Coal Mine, he resigned as the general director of Katowice Regional Television, a position he had held since 1976. In 1986 he began teaching in the Directing Department of the State Higher School of Theatre in Krakow, and in 1990 he was appointed managing director of Krakow Regional Television. He resigned from this post one year later after a series of attacks the Solidarity Trade Union chapter at the institution. In 1997 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Opole and during the same year was elected to the Polish Senate as a representative of the Unia Wolności (Freedom Union) party. He retains his parliamentary seat to this day and has been a deputy speaker of the Senate since 2001. (Culture.PL)

SALTO
1965/106 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Tadeusz Konwicki, Cinematographer:Kurt Weber

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A man hops off a train by the small town where he claims he was before. His presence allows to bring out the inner feelings and beliefs of the inhabitants. A man who has hidden through all of the war because he looked Jewish, even if he is not, took on a fame of a dead Jewish actor he resembles. The visitor’s wife shows up to claim his and indicate that he is always running off. He escapes in the end for another town. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director:Tadeusz Konwicki
Prose writer, screenwriter and film director. Founder of the ‘cinema des auteurs’ in Poland and author of 20 books. Born in 1926 in Nowa Wilejka, near Vilnius (today Naujoji Vilnia, Lithuania). Konwicki’s literary and cinematic legacy serves as both the conscience of Polish society and the skewed mirror in which it is reflected. He is among those writers who have left the most lasting impression on post-war Polish literature and culture, regarded as a spokesman for the dreams, hopes and frustrations of several generations of Poles. (Culture.PL)

WALKOWER (WALKOVER)
1965/70 min./B&W/Digital
Director/Writer:Jerzy Skolimowski, Cinematographer:Antoni Nurzynski

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Skolimowski’s second feature, Walkower, in many ways follows on from his diploma film, Rysopis/Identification Marks: None (1964), in which engineering student Andrzej Leszczyc (Jerzy Skolimowski) is preparing to begin military service. In Walkower, Andrzej has left the army, and appears to drift around the country participating in boxing fights. In an industrial town, he runs into Teresa (Aleksandra Zawieruszanka), a government engineer, who has arrived to implement a new project at a factory. Andrzej wins in a local boxing match, but decides to leave with Teresa instead of facing a much stronger opponent the next day. In a stunning long take shot from a moving train, Andrzej’s previous opponent follows him on a motorbike and goads him for his cowardice in forfeiting the fight. Andrzej subsequently jumps from the train and returns to the ring. His opponent, however, fails to turn up, and Andrzej wins in a “walkover”. (Senses of Cinema)

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Director:Jerzy Skolimowski
Film director, script writer, actor. He is also a poet and painter, and was a boxer in his youth. He was born in 1938 (some sources quote documents, which the director says are forged, giving 1936 as his year of birth). He graduated in ethnography from Warsaw University in 1959, and in directing from the National Film and Theatre School (today’s PWSFTviT) in Łódź in 1963. His short film “Boks / Boxing” won the Grand Prix at the International Sport Film Festival in Budapest in 1962.

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He debuted as a script writer in 1960 with the film “Niewinni czarodzieje / Innocent Sorcerers”, directed by Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polański’s Knife in the Water. His feature directing debut came in 1964 with Rysopis” / “Identification Marks: None. This film was made in an unusual way, as it was compiled from several of the director’s student films made over a period of time. Jerzy Skolimowski has lived and worked abroad since 1967, in Italy, Britain and the United States, spending the last two decades in California. (Culture.Pl)

TRZECIA CZESC NOCY (THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT)
1972/105 min./Color/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Andrzej Zulawski, Cinematographer:Witold Sobocinski

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Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers, slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape by being in the forest. The young man decides to join the resistance but at the first meeting Gestapo kills his go-between and chase him. During his escape he gets into an apartment of a pregnant woman and helps her with the childbirth. He works in the typhus center where he is guinea pig for lice after being immunized to make more vaccine. He goes to the hospital to end a misery of a man mistaken by him and tortured where he seems to see his own body and is finally reconciled with himself. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director:Andrzej Zulawski
Director, screenwriter, novelist, essayist and actor born on the 22nd of November 1940 in Lvov (now Ukraine). A non-conformist visionary of world cinema, his approach to storytelling is idiosyncratic and characterised by explosions of violence, sexuality, and despair. The actors in his movies have played out the most intensely high-pitched emotions in cinema history which inspired the French to coin the term “Zuławskienne,” meaning “over the top”. In an interview with Margaret Barton-Fumo Żuławski describes his films as provoking a certain kind of awareness, nervousness, open-eyed-ness. Although remaining unclassifiable, the vision of the world portrayed in his films has been described as tragic, shocking and hysterical, Żuławski himself retorts, I do not make films in order to shock through form. I do not want to shock with things which I would consider to be esthetically, ethically or morally ugly. If there are difficult and brutal things in these films or if the films show a world which is not necessarily pretty or bright, the aim is to go through a tunnel and get to some light. There is a purpose, a method, in it. (…) The films are intended to send in motion the audience’ feelings, thoughts, nerves, senses – in every respect. (Culture.Pl)

SANATORIUM POD KLEPSYDRA (THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM)
1973/125 min./Color/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Wojciech Has, Cinematographer:Witold Sobocinski

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Set in pre- World War II era. A young man is on a strange train to see his dying father in a sanatorium. But the place is going to ruin and recalls a lot of memories from the past. He is beset by soldiers from the past, colonial black mercenaries, girls from his early life, and his parents. It is an interior adventure, with unusual atmospheric flair and extraordinary sets. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director: Wojciech Jerzy Has
Film director and screenwriter. Born in Krakow in 1925, died in Łódź in 2000. Best known for directing The Manuscript Found in Saragossa and The Hour-Glass Sanatorium. Has is often referred to as a visionary of Polish cinema. Critics note that he created a body of work that was surprisingly cohesive in its poetics, as if the director were recounting the same tale in various ways. In practically every film he has created his own world. The adventures of his protagonists, their problems and the storylines in which they become embroiled were always of secondary importance compared to experience of the visual environment in which the action takes place. These worlds are like journeys through the labyrinth of time with its own particular narrative rhythm, and Has’s use of an array of strange objects (critics often use the term rupieciarnia – a random collection) create a unique visual universe. As the director himself has said of his cinematic style, “In the dream that is a film one often has a singular time loop. Things of the past, issues long gone, are overlaid onto current reality. The subconscious invades reality. Dreams thus allow us to reveal, to show the future”. Has studied in Krakow at the city’s Business School during the German occupation of Poland. He went on to study at the School of Art Industry, essentially the underground facility of the Academy of Fine Arts, until it was closed down in 1943. After the war he went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 1946, he also completed a one-year course in film, and began producing educational and documentary films at the Documentary Film Studio in Warsaw before moving on, in the ’50s, to the Educational Film Studio in Łódź. (Culture.Pl)

POCIAG (THE NIGHT TRAIN) -encore screening-
1959/100 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Cinematographer:Jan Laskowski

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Two strangers, Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. Also on board is Marta’s spurned lover, who will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumors fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit. (wiki)

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Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Film director and screenwriter. Born on the 19th of January 1922 in Gwozdziec (now Gvozdets in Ukraine), died on the 27th of December 2007 in Warsaw.Kawalerowicz’s first films were counted as part of neo-realism. This style served the director mainly to poeticise the uninteresting everyday reality he showed in his films. At the time, Kawalerowicz gained recognition as an excellent observer of reality, and a portraitist of authentic characters through sensitive visual imagery. Although Kawalerowicz made his films at the time of the “Polish school”, he remained outside its mainstream. The Polish school of filmmaking usually followed a national perspective – its great theme was the fate of the Poles.

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Kawalerowicz, meanwhile, chose universal themes. He is probably best known for his films Mother Joan of the Angels and Pharaoh, which reveal the director’s special and original style. Critic Konrad Eberhardt wrote about the director’s style in the Film weekly in 1996:The moonscape of Mother Joan of the Angels, the austere convent architecture, the white walls obsessively enclosing the characters (…) create a vision of a world made up of a huge number of road signs which have to be deciphered. (…) ‘Pharaoh’ was made along similar lines. Its picturesque beauty, its fascinatingly spectacular character, also were not meant to be the objective but a starting point, an invitation to penetrate areas of the subject matter which stretched above, or among the reality. Many of Kawalerowicz’s films are adaptations of literature, which has been processed into original works marked with the director’s creative individuality. Kawalerowicz has been called an epic author and a reconstructor of no longer existent worlds. Critic Zygmunt Kaluzynski wrote in the Polityka weekly in 2000:Mother Joan of the Angels’ was a reconstruction of the lost Middle Ages (though the plot is set in the 18th century, but in conditions mentally unchanged for centuries), ‘Pharaoh’ … is a reconstruction of Egyptian antiquity. And then ‘The Inn’ – a re-creation of the destroyed world of Hasidic Jewish culture. Despite the diversity of subjects, it is possible to discover a constant trend which is fundamental for his vision. This is a kind of deeply rooted and instinctive opposition to any unbridled individual and collective emotionality. That’s why this director stayed away from Romanticism. As Maria Kornatowska remarked, he is one of those people who prefer the “wise man’s looking glass and eye” to “feeling and faith”.

Andrzej Wajda Selections

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KANAL (THEY LOVED LIFE / ILS AIMAIENT LA VIE) -encore screening-
1957/96 min./B&W/Digital
Director:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Jerzy Lipman

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A symbolic depiction of hell on Earth, set in the last days of the Warsaw uprising in 1944. Lieutenant Zadra is commanding a company of 43 men in a desperate battle amidst the ruins. Facing German offense and cut off from their comrades, Zadra is commanded to retreat his men through the sewer system (‘kanal’). Zadra and his men are reluctant to do so, as it would indicate that they have lost the battle, but decide to obey the orders. However, as the men (and women) retreat, it becomes clear that their desperate attempt to flee from the hell of battle will result only in more death and suffering…- By Heka A
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POPIOL I DIAMENT (ASHES AND THE DIAMOND) -encore screening-
1958/104 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Jerzy Wójcik

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During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker’s partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. Maciek and Andrzej (noble group) get the task of killing a communist leader (Szczuka). They have carefully chosen the place where Szczuka will soon come in a car. But another car with two innocent persons come a little earlier, and both are shot in the belief that one of them were Szczuka. They learn about their mistake when Szczuka and his co-worker check into a hotel. Maciek manages to get the room next to. It will turn out that Szczuka’s son is in a noble partisan group. – A very tender love story, one of the best ever made, develops between Maciek and the waitress Krystyna. This makes Maciek want a normal life. Andrzej is his superior but also his friend. They agree that Maciek alone will finish the Szczuka affair and then leave the partisan group. Andrzej will go to Warszawa to replace an officer who had just been killed. Maciek shoots Szczuka in the street. His shots are drowned by the midnight fireworks. But he knows that it would mean suicide to stay with Krystyna. The plot is not finished with their leave, which is particularly painful to her. – By Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden.

WSZYSTKO NA SPRZEDAZ (EVERYTHING FOR SALE)
1968/100 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Directo/Writer:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Witold Sobocinski

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In a sense, this unique film is a tribute to the famous Polish actor, Zbigniew Cybulski, who died in a train accident two years ago. Although Cybulski’s name is never spoken upon the screen, we know that this film is about him and the legend woven around the boy in tinted glasses from Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds – a representation of the “lost generation” of young Poles, who moved from adolescence into maturity during World War II. Although that film made both Wajda and Cybulski internationally-famous, they never worked together again. In Everything For Sale, a film is being made, and for some reason, the leading actor has not appeared. The sequence being shot involves a man who falls to his death while trying to leap upon a moving train. Exasperated, the Director decides to double for the missing actor, while the actor’s wife tries to find him. Soon, the director’S wife (who had formerly bee the mistress of the actor) joins the search. Perhaps out of annoyance and a growing sense of panic, the director abandons the script and starts maing a film about the actor’s life, and asks the two women to play themselves in the film.

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They agree, and places which were either visited by the actor or probably visited are photographed as locales. There are conversations filmed with people who had known him or who had met him for the first time. Then, a news broadcast announces the actor’s tragic death. The director is in despair but he does not give up the shooting of his film – a film about the absence of an actor. Another hero is sought, and young Daniel Obrychski is chosen. (This artist is in actuality the most popular young actor in Poland today and is often compared to Cybulski). The outcome of this fascinating film is just as entracing as its envolvement; Wadja has created a very personal, experimental work here, very Polish in mood and inventiveness. It is a haunting homage to the past, a story of elusive contours and shapes which have merely been outlined, now disappearing and dissolving into oblivion. – UC Berkley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive

Triggered by Zbigniew Cybulski’s tragic death in 1967 and inspired by Federico Fellini’s “film about a film” Eight and a Half, Wajda filmed Everything for Sale in 1968. The plot in which reality mixes with fiction is based on the circumstances of the filming of the movie: the film’s main character doesn’t come to the film set. The director shows the search for the missing actor. Everything for Sale is a bitter reflection about the situation of Polish public life at that time. Reveals the traces of Wajda’s artistic inspirations, it’s a reassessment of his artistic output and that of other contemporary Polish filmmakers. (Culture.Pl)

KRAJOBRAZ PO BITWIE (LANDSCAPE AFTER THE BATTLE)
1970/107 min./Color/Digitally Remastered
Director/Writer:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Zygmunt Samosiuk

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Film opens with the mad rush of haphazard freedom as the concentration camps are liberated. Men are trying to grab food, change clothes, bury their tormentors they find alive. Then they are herded into other camps as the Allies try to devise policy to control the situation. A young poet who cannot quite find himself in this new situation, meets a headstrong Jewish young girl who wants him to run off with her, to the West. He cannot cope with her growing demands for affection, while still harboring the hatred for the Germans and disdain for his fellow men who quickly revert to petty enmities. By Polish Cinema Database

CZLOWIEK Z MARMURU (MAN OF MARBLE)
1977/160 min./Color/Digital
Director:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Edward Klosinski

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In 1976, a young woman in Krakow is making her diploma film, looking behind the scenes at the life of a 1950s bricklayer, Birkut, who was briefly a proletariat hero, at how that heroism was created, and what became of him. She gets hold of outtakes and censored footage and interviews the man’s friends, ex-wife, and the filmmaker who made him a hero. A portrait of Birkut emerges: he believed in the workers’ revolution, in building housing for all, and his very virtues were his undoing. Her hard-driving style and the content of the film unnerve her supervisor, who kills the project with the excuse she’s over budget. Is there any way she can push the film to completion? By

CZLOWIEK Z ZELAZA (MAN OF IRON)
1981/152 min./Color/Digital
Director/Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Edward Klosinski

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Andrzej Wajda’s account of the events at the Gdansk shipyard in the summer of 1980. Winkiel (Marian Opania), a burned-out, alcoholic journalist is assigned to look into the activities of Maciek Tomzyk (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), the charismatic and articulate leader of striking shipyard workers. He turns out to be the son of Mateusz Birkut. The journalist makes use of her own reputation as a youthful radical, implying a solidarity with Tomzyk even as she searches for the dirty laundry the party bosses hope she’ll find. But as she interviews the labour leader’s associates and his detained wife, Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda), and hears of his travails and of his father’s death in the 1970 crackdown against the workers, Opania begins to feel his former idealism returning, forcing her to consider putting her own career at risk to side with the strikers. – By Mr Bongo

KORCZAK
1990/118 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director:Andrzej Wajda, Cinematographer:Robby Müller

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Account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war. Jewish doctor Henryk Goldszmit, known also as Janusz Korczak, is a man of high principles. He is unafraid of shouting at German officers and frequently has to be persuaded to save his own life. His orphanage, set up in a cramped school in the Warsaw ghetto, provides shelter to 200 homeless kids. Putting his experimental educational methods into practice, he installs a kind of children’s self-government, whose justice is in a big contrast to what is happening in the outside world. Right in front of the school, dozens of kids are dying or being killed everyday and their naked bodies lie on the street unattended. Ghetto’s mayor assures Korczak that the orphanages will be saved. Korczak raises food and money for the orphanage from the rich Jews. In the final roundup he refuses to accept a Swiss passport and boards the train to Treblinka with his orphans. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director:Andrzej Wajda
Born on the 6th of March 1926 in Suwa?ki, Poland. Film and theatre director, script writer and set designer, one of the world’s most renowned cinematographers and winner of an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.

DO WIDZENIA, DO JUTRA -encore screening-
1960/87 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director:Janusz Morgenstern, Cinematographer:Jan Laskowski

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Jacek is a handsome, charming young Pole who belongs to a drama company.One day, in the streets of Gdansk, he meets Marguerite a beautiful, charming French girl, Marguerite. He falls for her but the young lady is whimsical…

ZEZOWATE SZCZESCIE (BAD LUCK) -encore screening-
1960/113 min./B&W/Digital
Director:Andrzej Munk, Cinematographer:Jerzy Lipman

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The story is an odyssey of a little man through Poland of 1930 to 1950. It shows his attempts to cope with a changing world which seems to have no place for him. He has no consciousness of any kind but is always on the verge of turning into a more coherent human being, only to be slapped down. It begins with the hero’s childhood. Then comes the first love marred by his unwilling involvement in fascict politics, him being taken for a Jew because of his nose. Later he decides to join the army to charm the girl, but arrives too late for any fighting. He is arrested by entering German troops while he dresses in officer’s uniform and mistakenly sent to POW camp as an officer. – By Polish Cinema Database

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Director:Andrzej Munk
Film director, script writer and cameraman. Born in 1921 in Krakow. Died tragically in 1961. While his documentaries shot under communist occupation until the mid-1950s were propaganda productions, his later feature films broke with the schematic formula and subtly pointed out the drawbacks of a politicised approach to labour. Having gained a reputation as a great documentary maker, he managed to create works that were inscribed into the socialist realism pattern but at the same time opposed it. Munk claimed that his films were “a response to the official tone of the documentaries of the time, to their laconic, over-optimistic tone. I tried to show issues that had been made banal, I wanted to show the hardship, sacrifice, heroism, beauty of everyday work”. Having played an unquestionably important role in Polish documentary filmmaking, Andrzej Munk the director of Eroica, Bad Luck and the unfinished Passenger, films which have entered the canons of Polish classics, next to Andrzej Wajda, was the main author of the restoration-oriented trend in Polish cinema dubbed the “Polish school”.

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Showing motifs of armed action and heroism requiring sacrifice in a de-mythologized way, the school emerged in the mid-1950’s out of the need to shed the burden of the socialist-realist model. Critics have commented that although a part of the anti-heroic trend of the Polish school, Munk’s works stood out because of their realistic tissue, with a tendency for quasi-documentary figures as opposed to Wajda’s ” epic poems” and the school’s tendency for lyricism. nti-Romantic role in the “Polish school”. He began his career directing films that followed the spirit of the times. Several of his documentaries such as Nauka bli?ej zycia / Science Closer to Life, or Kierunek Nowa Huta / Destination Nowa Huta, were used as propaganda material. Although critics argue that today it is difficult to notice the nuances that distinguish a film in compliance with the enforced pattern and one that breaks with it, according to film essayist Bozena Janicka, Andrzej Munk – and only he – grasped the vibration between official propaganda, which used methods imported from the east to encourage people to work hard, and the genuine commitment of the people, who would have done what they did even without the propaganda, declarations, campaigns, and dull speeches. Andrzej Munk knew that the imposed propaganda ritual could conceal the real truth about people who act out of a genuine, not forced sense of responsibility for themselves and others. This was an inconvenient conclusion at the time, as it questioned the grounds for the authorities’ sense of being the masters […]. (Culture.Pl)

NIKT NIE WOLA (NOBODY’S CALLING) -encore screening-
1960/83/B&W/Digitally remastered
Director: Kazimierz Kutz, Cinematographer:Jerzy Wójcik

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In 1960 Kazimierz Kutz’ second film NIKT NIE WOLA, based on a Jozef Hen novel that was never published in Poland, described the fate of Poles on the Eastern Front. Kutz used the film to explore new formal solutions, collaborating closely with cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik to reveal the psychological landscape of a pair of lovers who are strongly affected by wartime events. The camera recorded the couple’s inner experiences, contrasting their muted intimacy against the surrounding scenery of a ruined town. The film did not win over critics at the time of its release. It was not until later that critics recognized Kutz’s effort to experiment with aesthetics in a manner akin to that pursued by filmmakers of the new wave. NOBODY’S CALLING came to be compared with Michelangelo Antonioni’s THE ADVENTURE, which was produced around the same time.

REKOPIS ZNALEZIONY W SARAGOSSIE (THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT)
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1965/182 min./B&W/Digitally Remastered
Director:Wojciech Jerzy Has, Cinematographer:Mieczyslaw Jahoda

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In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather’s story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he sups with two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows. He’s rescued from the Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories, usually of love. He returns to Venta Quemada, the women await with astonishing news. – By jhailey@hotmail.com>

IDA – FORMERLY SISTER OF MERCY -Japan Premiere-
2013/80 min./B&W/Digital
Director/Writer:Pawel Pawlikowski, Cinematographer:Lukasz Zal

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British-based filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski has spent his entire career thus far outside, geographically at least, his native Poland. Now, with his five feature film, he journey’s back to rediscover his homeland along with his two lead characters in the beautiful Ida (2013). It’s a trip back in time to the sixties, shot in exquisite monochrome and telling a fairly intimate tale which can’t help but feel incredibly personal to its director, despite its bleak tone. With exceptional performances from Agata Kulesza and newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska, it could be a dark horse from the top prize at this year’s Lff. Ida starts out as Sister Ana (Trzebuchowska), an orphaned young nun about to take her vows in a small convent. Before she can, she is directed to leave her cloistered surroundings, and experience a little of the wider world by taking a trip to meet her only living relative, her aunt Wanda ≫ – CineVue UK

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Director:Pawel Pawlikowski
The director Pawel Pawlikowski shoots on treatment, allowing for cast input and on-set improvisation, and is regarded by the BBC as “one of Britain’s leading filmmakers”. His new hit Ida is currently taking over the world one prize at a time. Polish born, now living in Paris, he received an Emmy and the Prix Italia for his first documentary then took a BAFTA award for his feature debut.Pawlikowski was born in Warsaw in 1957 and left Poland at the age of 14. He is a “hybrid-filmmaker” who seems caught between realities. Journalists in Poland such as Bartek Staszczyszyn consider his “imagination and way of illustrating” to be closer to Western European traditions than the renowned Polish film school; writing for culture.pl, Staszczyszyn places Pawlikowski “closer to Lindsay Anderson and Francois Truffaut than to Andrzej Wajda or Krzysztof Zanussi”. And other reviewers spot in something distinctively Eastern European in his films.

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“His cinematic capital [is] bound up in the liturgy of Eastern Europe, particularly Russia”, Lars Kristensen writes in Mapping Pawel Pawlikowski and Last Resort. In an Arts Desk piece written by Nick Hasted, Pawlikowski says: “I could have become more British – I feel vaguely British. I’ve lived in Germany, Italy, my wife was Russian. […] So I seem to like being on the margin, in every way, even filming. Of course in cinema, which makes a lot of noise and is expensive, it’s tricky to be on the margins.” His experiences as a refugee seem to be incorporated in his films. Scenes from Last Resort in 2000 all the way to his latest feature, The Woman in the Fifth from 2011, show passports being handed over and people stopped at customs that, as Nick Hasted writes, “leaves the protagonists in a purgatory”. “Crossing borders with his parents as a child, Pawlikowski glimpsed that purgatory”, Hasted adds. “Some kind of Eastern European complex!” Pawlikowski recalls in the article “losing a passport once in Moscow. Once you lose it in certain parts of the world, your life will never be the same. When I first had a Western passport, it was such a weird feeling crossing borders. All of a sudden you don’t have to justify yourself, they have to treat you like a human being, you won’t be humiliated. Whereas if you lose this foreign passport, then you are at the mercy of whatever happens.

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The Russians have a phrase that means ‘anything goes’. No limits.” His films tackle difficult topics including war and deportation, with a dreamlike quality that makes them timeless and very “unBritish”. His best known documentary, Serbian Epics, took Pawlikowski and crew to the front lines of the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian civil war in 1994. As an account of the revival of Serbian oral poetry, the film achieves this timelessness through approaching the topic of the war indirectly. Last Resort, Pawlikowski’s first feature, is set in the British seaside town Margate, which houses “the mad and the bad, undeserving poor dumped by London councils all through the 1980s”, as well as asylum seekers. In The Guardian, Fiachra Gibbson writes that “Margate is portrayed as a bleak holding tank of a failed resort area. Looking out on to a dilapidated amusement park, the area is a virtual prison.” Pawlikowski was accused by local MPs of shedding a negative light on the town, but the director doesn’t consider his films to be social studies. “Last Resort was construed as a social document, an indictment of the asylum system – that’s how a lot of people saw it. But I was much more interested in what was going on between the heroine and her little boy than explaining the plight of refugees. I don’t want to make films about people on the margins of life, that’s too easy.” – he told Victoria Lindrea for the BBC.

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“Every good film is a bit like a dream, that’s what I usually aspire to, rather than some social document. I want to create a little world which will stay with the audience,” he told BBC’s Jen Foley. In Fiachra Gibbson’s piece, the Guardian writer says, Like its director, Last Resort is a very peculiar animal. It mixes gritty realism with a very un-British dreamlike quality which transcends the grimness of its setting. The handheld, documentary sequences of refugees huddled in shuffling queues for a solitary phonebox or the interior fug of greasy spoons are cut with beautiful, lingering wide-angle landscapes to create the eerie perspective of people who spend their days peering out uncomprehendingly at the strange country beyond their windows.

CHCE SIE ZYC (LIFE FEELS GOOD) -Japan Premiere-
2013/107 min./Color/Digital
Director/Writer: Maciej Pieprzyca, Cinematographer: Pawel Dyllus

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Helmer-scripter Pieprzyca places the character of Mateusz squarely at his story’s center. As a boy (Kamil Tkacz), Mateusz devises a unique method of moving around the apartment, lying on his back and flailing his arms to propel himself backward, which gives him a measure of autonomy. His happy childhood provides all kinds of education, from social instruction gained by watching neighbors from his window, to cosmic knowledge imparted by his whimsical wizard of a father (Arkadiusz Jakubik). While his mother (Dorota Kolak) wheels him around and showers him with kisses and laughter, his father fires his imagination. As he grows up, Mateusz (his role now undertaken by David Ogrodnik) even wins a loving girlfriend, the beautiful blonde next door (Anna Karczmarczyk). But, as with all his attempts to influence the world around him, his efforts to help her backfire: Momentarily freed of her abusive dad, she flees with Mom to parts unknown. Exit romance. But not sex. Once his father dies and his mother becomes unable to physically tend to him, Mateusz is uprooted and placed in a home for the mentally disabled, where only his undying interest in breasts keeps him sane. He devises a system to judge female caretakers by breast size, since they have little else going for them. Even more than at home, where his excitement at possibilities for communication were misread as hysteria and met with sympathetic quashing of his supposed “fits,” he is treated poorly in the asylum. Then Magda (Katarzyna Zawadzka), a beautiful new nurse, arrives and pays loving attention, dancing for him and waltzing with him in the wheelchair, the subjective camera turning in time to celebratory music. She even lets him touch her breasts; Mateusz feels vindicated. But comprehension does not always prove a blessing: When Magda takes him on an outing for her own neurotic needs, he understands her betrayal all too clearly. (Variety)

UWIKLANIE -Japan Premiere-
2011/123 min./Color/Digital
Director/Writer:Jacek Bromski, Cinematographer:Marcin Koszalka

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With a screenplay based on Zygmunt Miloszewski’s award winning detective novel, the movie portrays a seemingly routine investigation that turns into a fascinating intellectual game. The story builds around a Krakow public prosecutor in his thirties, who comes to unravel the mysterious death of a participant of the unconventional Hellinger group therapy session. During the course of family group therapy, the patients and therapist search for the family links of one of the patients. The others begin to behave – or rather to experience emotions – like members of his family. According to Hellinger, they not only inherit the physical characteristics of their ancestors, but their emotions: fear and frustration of former generations put a shadow on the behavior of today’s generation. Once these emotions are revealed in treatment, you can get rid of them – all that is needed is for the therapist to utter a key phrase at the right moment. (Culture.PL)

Bolek und Lolek (7 episodes) Animation
80 min./Color/Digital
Bolek and Lolek are two Polish cartoon characters from the TV animated series by the same title (Bolek i Lolek in Polish). They are based on Wladyslaw Nehrebecki’s sons, named Jan and Roman, and were partially created by German-born Alfred Ledwig before being developed by Wladyslaw Nehrebecki and Leszek Lorek. The series is about two young brothers and their fun and sometimes silly adventures which often involve spending a lot of time outdoors. They first appeared in an animated film in 1963. (Wikipedia)

Magic Pencil (seven episodes) Animation
62 min./Color/Digital
By Se-ma-for Studios / se-ma-for.com

http://www.polandfilmfes.com/

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