The 14th KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival returns to the capital this April with an exciting programme bringing together a diverse and enticing mix of film, music, visual arts and design with screenings, both contemporary and retrospective, as well as documentary and silent cinema, interactive workshops, industry masterclasses, exhibitions, live performances and special guests….
As previously announced, KINOTEKA is excited to present three curated retrospectives that celebrate the lives and work of three of Poland’s most revered directors: Jerzy Skolimowski, Agnieszka Holland and Andrzej Żuławski, each of whom has had a huge creative impact internationally, finding critical acclaim and success both at home and abroad.
This year’s KINOTEKA programme pays tribute to the genius of the late Andrzej Żuławski, who sadly passed away on the 17th of February. In his essay, introducing the Żuławski season at KINOTEKA Festival, writer and filmmaker Daniel Bird describes the director’s final film Cosmos (screening 15th April, ICA) as, “An exhilarating jungle gym for the heart and brain, the perfect coda to Andrzej Żuławski’s filmmaking career”. He goes on to say “Żuławski may have just thirteen films in his career, but every one, including his last, is stuffed with a lifetime worth of thoughts and, above all else, feelings.” We ask you to join us as we look back on the life and legacy of this extraordinary filmmaker at the 14th KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival.
Jerzy Skolimowski, one of Polish cinema’s most iconic figures who has worked in film as a director, writer and actor for over 50 years, presents his latest film 11 Minutes, at KINOTEKA’s Opening Night Gala (7th April, Barbican Cinema). Throughout his illustrious career Skolimowski has always been one to push boundaries, so hold on tight for this bold and innovative ride that takes viewers on a pulse-pounding cinematic journey. Focusing on 11 scintillating minutes in the lives of a variety of characters whose paths cross as they race towards an unexpected finale, 11 Minutes is an adventurous rollercoaster full of motion, emotion and suspense. Featuring an impressive ensemble cast, 11 Minutes succeeds in being an inventive metaphor for our modern hectic lives driven by blind chance. KINOTEKA is delighted that Jerzy Skolimowski will present his film in person, followed by an onstage Q&A at the Barbican.
In honour of his latest film Barbican Cinema and Close-Up Cinema present a special KINOTEKA retrospective from his impressive filmography; Jerzy Skolimowski: 11 Minutes and 55 years, with rarely screened titles including the psychological drama Barrier (1966) (9th April, Barbican) with an introduction by Skolimowski himself, Deep End (1970) (10th April, Barbican, 30th April, Close-Up Cinema) Skolimowski’s comedy-drama about an obsession with a woman, and the rarely screened Moonlighting (1982) (13th April, Barbican), starring Jeremy Irons, which was awarded the Golden Palm for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. Producer Jeremy Thomas will take part in a Q&A about working with Skolimowski, following the screening of metaphysical horror, The Shout (1978) (14th April, Barbican), which was awarded the Special Jury Prize at Cannes. The season also includes his loose Andrzej Leszczyc trilogy; Identification Marks: None (1965) (22nd April), Walkover (1965) (23rd April) and Hands Up! (1981) (24th April) all screening at Close-Up Cinema as part of their ‘Close-Up on Masters of Polish Cinema’ season.
Currently Chairwoman of the European Film Academy, Agnieszka Holland was a former assistant to Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi, she has gone on to become one of Poland’s most eminent filmmakers, and the most commercially successful Polish-born director since Roman Polański. Throughout her long and celebrated career, three times Oscar® nominated Holland, has forged a creative path while avoiding categorisation, maintaining her integrity with films that are personal, entertaining and politically charged.
Producing award-winning feature films including the Golden Globe-winning Europa Europa and Oscar-nominated In Darkness, Holland has also shown that she is just as comfortable and adept at working in television, directing episodes for US networks including HBO and Netflix, on groundbreaking shows ‘The Wire’, ‘Treme’, ‘The Killing’ and ‘House of Cards’. It is hard to think of another director with such a wealth of experience across different media, nations and cultures.
BFI Southbank and KINOTEKA present a retrospective season of Holland’s essential films and television work Lighting Fires: The Film & TV of Agnieszka Holland. Key titles being screened during the season include; Cannes Critics Prize winner, Provincial Actors (1979) (11th and 15th April), the once banned by Polish censorship, A Woman Alone (1981) (13th and 18th April, with an introduction by Holland on the 13th), Europa Europa (1990) (13th and 17th April, with an introduction by Holland on the 13th), her first English language and much beloved family film, The Secret Garden (1993) (16th April), and In Darkness (2011) (14th and 19th April).
The season will also include rare screenings of some of her television work – on the same night as an In Conversation event, audiences will be able to see her pilot for Treme (HBO, 2010) (12th April), based in New Orleans three months after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. There will also be a complete screening of the mini-series Burning Bush (HBO Europe, 2013) (16th April). Based on real events, Burning Bush presents an absorbing, intelligent drama focusing on the aftermath of a protest by Prague student, Jan Palach, and his symbolic self-immolation at the close of the Prague Spring in 1969, protesting against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia.
From 1 – 30 April there will also be a display of international posters for films by Holland in the BFI Southbank Atrium. The Faces of Agnieszka Holland, will feature posters taken from the Archives of the Film Museum in Łódz which display varied graphic styles, the diverse priorities of different cultures and the compelling nature of poster art.
Regarded as one of Polish cinema’s most original and controversial figures Andrzej Żuławski made his career making films outside of Poland. In honour of the late filmmaker KINOTEKA and the ICA will screen a retrospective tribute, Andrzej Żuławski: The Man, The Myth, The Films, including the UK premiere of his award-winning last film Cosmos (15th April, followed by a panel discussion). Awarded the Best Direction prize at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival, Żuławski’s first film in 15 years, is a metaphysical thriller and loose adaptation of Witold Gombrowicz’s surreal novel Cosmos. Hilarious, confounding and downright strange (in a good way), Żuławski fans will not be disappointed as the visionary director spins a mysterious web of erotic and psychological intrigue, bringing to mind both his earlier work as well as David Lynch’s Inland Empire which similarly defies any simple explanation.
The curated programme also includes a newly digital re-mastered copy of Żuławski’s Polish production, The Devil (1972) (17th April, with introduction by Daniel Bird), a film withheld by Polish communist government censorship for 16 years. That Most Important Thing: Love (1975) (16th April), stars Romy Schneider as a struggling actress forced to act in erotic films, and cult body horror Possession (1981) (19th April) starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani, whose unquestionably brilliant performance as the emotionally disturbed Anna won her both Best Actress at Cannes and a Cesar award. Often compared to David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979), and as a precursor to Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009), Possession also belongs to a much broader tradition of the fantastic in Eastern European culture, populated by golems, dybbuks and metamorphoses; as seen in Marcin Wrona’s startling final film Demon, who’s newly married protagonist literally confronts the skeleton in the family closet (also screening as part of KINOTEKA).
Commemorating the great cinematography of Andrzej Żuławski, Andy Votel (Founder of Finders Keepers Records) will perform a special music tribute to Żuławski and his exceptional use of film music ranging from electronic through orchestral to experimental, including scores from Possession and Third Part of the Night at Rich Mix (22 March, 9.30pm).
New Polish Cinema
The Regent Street Cinema plays host to KINOTEKA’s New Polish Cinema strand with a selection of both popular and critically successful contemporary Polish films from the last year. One of Poland’s most popular directors, Jacek Bromski returns to the festival with his Gdynia-winning Anatomy of Evil (8th April), an engaging thriller about an aging mafia hit-man released from prison on parole who is assigned a mysterious assassination, but whom is physically unable to complete the task without help. With the mission in jeopardy a sniper is engaged to take over the task.
In Dariusz Gajewski’s heart-stirring family drama Strange Heaven (9th April), Basia and Marek are a young immigrant couple living in Sweden. One innocent lie triggers an avalanche and their daughter is placed within a foster family by social services. So begins a dramatic fight with the cruel machine of bureaucracy to get their child back. In award-winning director and screenwriter Krzysztof Łukasiewicz’s contemporary Polish war film Karbala (9th April), the viewer is transported to Kurdistan and the Iraqi War in 2004. The film explores the dramatic and unexpected real life battle that took place between unprepared Polish and Bulgarian soldiers and Iraqi rebels, exposing the helplessness and realities of war.
Be prepared to laugh and cry with family drama, These Daughters of Mine (9th April). Kinga Dębska’s follow up to her feature debut, Hel (2009) tells the story of two, distant middle-aged sisters forced to come together in the face of their mother’s illness and struggle with the realities of their natures.
Inspired by the true story of Tadeusz Szymków, Maciej Migas’s debut feature Life Must Go On (9th April) features a phenomenal central performance from Tomasz Kot (Bogowie) as a feckless actor, suffering from alcoholism who discovers he has incurable cancer and only three months to live. He decides to turn his life around and most importantly reconnect with his daughter but is three months enough to fix all of life’s mistakes?
In partnership with UK Jewish Film, Marcin Wrona’s atmospheric ghost story Demon (10th April), screens as a tribute to the late filmmaker who died suddenly during the Gdynia Film Festival last year. Itay Tiran give an impressively vivid yet understated performance as Piotr, a young man who journeys from England to marry his beloved Żaneta at her family’s country home in rural Poland. Complications arise when Piotr uncovers a human skeleton buried in the backyard of his newly inherited property and guests start to notice the groom’s increasingly bizarre behaviour.
Awarded both the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival and Golden Lion at the Gdynia Film Festival for Best Film, Małgorzata Szumowska’s thought-provoking Body (10th April) is a darkly comic meditation on grief and reconciliation, using the theme of the corporal and ethereal body to weave together the stories of three interconnected but radically different people attempting to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Details of the Kinoteka Film Festival 2016, including these films and others, can be found on the Kinoteka website, accessible by clicking on the image below.