MARTIN SCORSESE PRESENTS MASTERPIECES OF POLISH CINEMA

illumination-01

This year KINOTEKA is delighted to host Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, a selection of 24 of the legendary director’s favourite Polish films of the 20th Century, to be screened across April and May. To introduce the series, film critic and writer Michael Brooke talks us through the collection and its historical relevance…

Polish cinema seemed to come out of nowhere. After a painful period of reconstruction post-WWII and the abolition of a creatively stifling policy of Socialist Realism, the country’s filmmakers were more than ready to spread their wings. They did so to spectacular effect from the late 50s onwards, exploring Poland’s war-torn landscapes, the more fantastical worlds of the imagination and, as the cracks began to show towards the end of the 70s, the ‘moral anxiety’ of existing within a corrupt Communist society that few Poles actively supported. Every film in this two-part season, curated by Martin Scorsese and screening in pristine digital restoration, is regarded as a classic at home. Some already enjoy that status here, but others are undeservedly littleknown; Masterpieces of Polish Cinema hopes to change that.

DANIEL BIRD “WALERIAN BOROWCZYK: RENAISSANCE MAN?”

CAMOUFLAGE (BARWY OCHRONNE)

6pm, 8:30pm - Wednesday 8 April, Tuesday 14 April -

8 April, 6pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 14 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35  -  £12.15 A linguistics competition at a university’s summer camp is the backdrop for a wittily satirical drama about the elusiveness of language. An idealistic teacher and his more manipulative older colleague assess not only each entry’s intrinsic merit, but ... Read More »

ILLUMINATION (ILUMINACJA)

6:15pm, 8:30pm - Thursday 9 April, Sunday 12 April -

9 April, 6:15pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 12 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35  -  £11.75 This dazzlingly original filmessay combines an intensely intimate portrait of a young would-be scientist with a quizzical analysis of his sincere (if fumbling and naive) attempts at grasping the very meaning of life. Its frequent scholarly digressions into ... Read More »

POSTER EXHIBITION: ANDRZEJ WAJDA’S FILMS IN WORLD FILM POSTERS

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2 April — 31 May BFI Southbank Atrium FREE Selected works from the original Andrzej Wajda’s Films in World Film Posters exhibition on loan from the archives of the Film Museum in Łódź, Poland presents archival materials related to the life and work of the Polish artist. The abundant archive of the Museum ... Read More »

THE CONSTANT FACTOR (CONSTANS)

8:50pm, 6:20pm - Thursday 9 April, Sunday 12 April -

9 April, 8:50pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 12 April, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 A man obsessed by the impending death of his mother and a dream of climbing mountains retreats into mathematics, trying to discover a ‘constant factor’ that will make sense of the world’s apparently random capriciousness. It’s one of Zanussi’s ... Read More »

EROICA (EROICA)

8:30pm, 8:30pm - Monday 13 April, Thursday 23 April -

13 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 23 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35  -  £11.75 Black comedies about WWII were understandably thin on the ground in post-war Poland, but this brilliantly incisive two-part dissection of ‘courage’ and ‘valour’ offers a decidedly subversive take on the traditional image of Polish heroism. In the first ... Read More »

BLIND CHANCE (PRZYPADEK)

6pm, 6:10pm - Tuesday 14 April, Saturday 18 April -

14 April, 6pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 18 April, 6:10pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £6.00  -  £11.75 Banned for years for getting too close to the political knuckle, Kieślowski’s threepart narrative hinges on whether medical student Witek catches a train, and on what happens afterwards. Will he be recruited by the ... Read More »

A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING (KRÓTKI FILM O ZABIJANIU)

8:30pm, 8:50pm, 6:30pm - Wednesday 15 April, Saturday 18 April, Friday 24 April -

15 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank 3 + 18 April, 8:50pm BFI Southbank 1 + 24 April, 6:30pm BFI Southbank 1 Tickets: £8.35  -  £11.75 A grimly confrontational study of the protracted process of ending someone’s life, whether through casual murder or meticulously calibrated execution. Kieślowski’s masterpiece contributed to a national debate that ultimately ended capital punishment in Poland. Cinematographer Sławomir ... Read More »

KNIGHTS OF THE BLACK CROSS (KRZYŻACY)

8pm, 4:40pm - Thursday 16 April, Sunday 26 April -

16 April, 8pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 26 April, 4:40pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £8.35  -  £11.75 One of Poland’s biggest hits, this lavish widescreen epic was based on Henryk Sienkiewicz’s much-loved novel The Teutonic Knights. Set at the turn of the 15th century, it depicts the tension between the Poles and Lithuanians and their ... Read More »

THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (RĘKOPIS ZNALEZIONY W SARAGOSSIE)

7:40pm, 7:30pm - Monday 20 April, Saturday 25 April -

20 April, 7:40pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 25 April, 7:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £8.35 - £.11.75 You wouldn’t expect a rip-roaring widescreen Napoleonic adventure crammed with duels, damsels and cryptic manuscripts to be the favourite film of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. But this is actually one of the great 1960s ‘head-trips’ – an adaptation ... Read More »

THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM (SANATORIUM POD KLEPSYDRĄ)

8:30pm , 8:20pm - Tuesday 21 April, Thursday 30 April -

21 April, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 30 April, 8:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £6  -  £11.75 A hallucinatory head-swiveller of a film, which turns Bruno Schulz’s novella into a floridly baroque journey of a man visiting a mysterious sanatorium. He enters a world based as much on his anxieties and long-buried memories as it ... Read More »

JUMP (SALTO)

6:20pm, 8:50pm - Saturday 25 April, Wednesday 28 April -

25 April, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 28 April, 8:50pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £6.00  -  £11.75 In this rich and subtle dreamplay a man arrives in a small country town and demands sanctuary from an unspecified threat, but who is he, why do people remember him differently, and can he really perform miracles? Many ... Read More »

MAN OF IRON (CZŁOWIEK Z ŻELAZA)

2:00pm, 5:30pm - Sunday 3 May, Saturday 23 May -

3 May, 2pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 23 May, 5:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £8.35 - £.11.75 Andrzej Wajda’s masterly study of the excitement of the Solidarity years. As the Solidarity protests swelled in 1980, Wajda grabbed camera and crew, pulled ready-made characters off the shelf (from his earlier Man of Marble) and filmed this story ... Read More »

NIGHT TRAIN (POCIĄG)

6:10pm, 8:45pm - Saturday 2 May, Saturday 9 May -

2 May, 6:10pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 9 May, 8:45pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35 - £.11.75 Psychological thriller about the passengers on an overnight Baltic express. A sleeper train rockets through the night, its passengers possibly including a murderer. Although this isn’t quite as overtly Hitchcockian as that sounds, as Kawalerowicz was primarily interested in ... Read More »

TO KILL THIS LOVE (TRZEBA ZABIĆ TĘ MIŁOŚĆ)

3:15pm, 8:45pm - Sunday 26 April, Wednesday 29 April -

26 April, 3:15pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 29 April, 8:45pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 Magda and Andrzej are young lovers in early 1970s Poland, notionally a socialist paradise, in reality anything but as they find themselves constantly buffeted by official obstacles and supposedly non-existent class barriers as they try to find a place ... Read More »

THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER (OSTATNI DZIEŃ LATA)

8:50pm, 6:20pm - Sunday 26 April, Tuesday 28 April -

26 April, 8:50pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 28 April, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 Tickets: £6.00  -  £11.75 Already an important novelist, Konwicki used his position as the Kadr Film Unit’s literary advisor to make his directing debut for a tiny budget, with no script and a cast of two – a revolutionary gesture at a ... Read More »

MOTHER JOAN OF ANGELS (MATKA JOANNA OD ANIOŁÓW)

5:30pm, 8:30pm - Saturday 3 May, Friday 8 May -

3 May, 5:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 8 May, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 A stark psychological drama about demonic possession in a convent. Notionally, this is based on the same historical events that inspired Ken Russell’s The Devils, but Kawalerowicz’s treatment is subtler and more psychologically acute. His wife Lucyna Winnicka plays ... Read More »

WALKOVER (WALKOWER)

8:45pm, 6:20pm - Monday 4 May, Sunday 17 May -

4 May, 8:45pm BFI Southbank NFT2 + 17 May, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT3 Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 Jerzy Skolimowski’s characteristically wayward tale of a washed-up amateur boxer. Skolimowski’s second feature (and first full-length narrative) cemented his status as a one-man Polish New Wave, the rhythms of his films at least as influenced by jazz and (his own) poetry ... Read More »

PHARAOH (FARAON)

8:00pm, 3:00pm - Thursday 7 May, Sunday 10 May -

7 May, 8:00pm BFI Southbank NFT2 + 10 May, 3:00pm BFI Southbank NFT Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 A vast ancient Egyptian epic that’s as much about politics as spectacle. Ancient Egyptians speaking Polish? Well, why not – they didn’t speak English either. Kawalerowicz spent three years making what was once Poland’s most expensive film, a huge widescreen epic ... Read More »

AUSTERIA (AUSTERIA)

8:50pm, 3:30pm - Wednesday 13 May, Saturday 23 May -

13 May, 8:50pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 23 May, 3:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 Tickets: £8.35 - £11.75 A moving and politically controversial tale of anti- Semitic persecution during WWI. Kawalerowicz spent decades trying to realise his most personal project, that allowed him to suggest without tackling the Holocaust directly that the culturallyengendered pacifism and passivity of ... Read More »

ASHES AND DIAMONDS (POPIÓŁ I DIAMENT)

8:45pm, 6:20pm, 8:30pm - Thursday 14 May, Tuesday 19 May, Monday 25 May -

14 May, 8:45pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 19 May, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 25 May, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 Tickets: £6 - £12.15 The ‘Polish James Dean’ stars in a complex, morally knotty masterpiece. Wajda’s film vividly captures the turbulence and confusion immediately following WWII, as a former resistance hero turns anti-Communist assassin. Audiences were officially supposed ... Read More »

INNOCENT SORCERERS (NIEWINNI CZARODZIEJE)

6:20pm, 8:30pm - Friday 8 May, Sunday 17 May -

8 May, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT2 + 17 May, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT3 Tickets: £8.35 - £12.15 An affectionate but caustic look at early Sixties Polish youth culture. After three successive films about Polish history, Wajda turned his attention to the (then) present, enlisting younger colleagues Roman Polański and Jerzy Skolimowski to add verisimilitude to this study of ... Read More »

PROVINCIAL ACTORS (AKTORZY PROWINCJONALNI)

6:10pm, 8:40pm - Friday 15 May, Saturday 16 May -

15 May, 6:10pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 + 16 May, 8:40pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 Tickets: £8.35 - £12.15 Agnieszka Holland’s debut: an ensemble piece about warring actors. After an apprenticeship as Wajda’s assistant, Agnieszka Holland made her solo debut with this ambitious ensemble piece, both an allegorical study of cultural interference (a trendy young theatre director is attempting ... Read More »

THE PROMISED LAND (ZIEMIA OBIECANA)

5:40pm, 2:00pm - Thursday 21 May, Sunday 24 May -

21 May, 5:40pm BFI Southbank NFT 3 + 24 May, 2pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 Tickets: £8.35 - £12.15 Lavish and shocking portrait of ruthless entrepreneurs during Poland’s industrial revolution. Władysław Reymont’s novel is Poland’s equivalent of ‘Hard Times’ or ‘Germinal’, a ruthlessly clear-eyed anatomising of the industrial revolution from the perspective of three young entrepreneurs. Wajda’s viscerally vivid ... Read More »

KNIFE IN THE WATER (NÓŻ W WODZIE)

8:45pm, 6:10pm, 6:20pm - Saturday 23 May, Monday 25 May, Tuesday 26 May -

23 May, 8:45pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 25 May, 6:10pm BFI Southbank NFT 1 + 26 May, 6:20pm BFI Southbank NFT 2 Tickets: £6 - £11.75 Polański’s first feature spun ostensibly simple ingredients – two men, a woman, a yacht, a vast expanse of water and a haunting jazz score by the great Krzysztof Komeda – into not just one ... Read More »

THE WEDDING (WESELE)

8:30pm, 8:30pm - Wednesday 20 May, Thursday 28 May -

20 May, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT3 + 28 May, 8:30pm BFI Southbank NFT3 Tickets: £8.35 – £10.65 Nineteenth-century Poland imagined as a grotesque and raucous wedding party. First performed in 1901, Stanisław Wyspiański’s play turns the marriage of a poet and a peasant into a state-of-thenation allegory about the attractions and pitfalls of national self-determination at ... Read More »

Witold Sobociński and Piotr Sobociński Jr in conversation

6:10pm - 28 Thursday -

Thursday 28 May, 6.10pm BFI Southbank Tickets: £8.35 - £10.65 The innovative DoP and award-winning, third generation cinematographer discuss the evolution of their craft in Poland and beyond. Witold Sobociński contributed to the look of many films in this season (including The Wedding, and The Hourglass Sanatorium), firstly as an innovative DoP and secondly ... Read More »

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