Posts Tagged ‘Kinoteka 2013’

Kinoteka Polish Film Festival | 9 March – 3 April 2022

KINOTEKA celebrates its 20th Anniversary back on the big screen.

From 9th March to 3rd April 2022, the festival showcases the latest Polish films along with some vintage cult classics at the ICA and BFI Southbank and at Edinburgh’s prestigious Filmhouse cinema, and enjoy a selection at home on BFI player too.

Amongst the highlights are Jerzy Skolimowski’s IDENTIFICATION MARKS: NONE’, Andrzej Wajda’s Oscar nominated THE YOUNG LADIES OF WILKO; Andrzej Żuławski’s cult science fiction masterpiece ON THE SILVER GLOBE and Agnieszka Holland’s potent political period piece FEVER


The Closing Night film at the BFI Southbank, will be the UK premier of the newly restored 1924 black and white silent FORBIDDEN PARADISE (1924) directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring his Polish muse, Pola Negri as a luminous Catherine the Czarina accompanied by la live score specially composed by Marcin Pukaluk.



The Opening Night film, Agnieszka Woszczyńska’s award-winning thriller SILENT LAND (2021) Also headlining this strand of New Polish Cinema is Poland’s OSCAR hopeful LEAVE NO TRACES, (2021), Jan P. Matuszyński’s award-winning story of police brutality in communist Poland set in 1983. Other films in this strand include 25 YEARS OF INNOCENCE (below) a huge box office hit in Poland. SONATA, the inspirational, true story of a deaf pianist which won the Audience Award and Best Debut Actor at the Gdynia Polish Film Festival. 1970 is a compelling documentary looking at political unrest during that time when a series of strikes and riots took place against the communist government in Poland. The film draws upon archival photography, recently-discovered telephone conversations and stop-motion animation to give a new understanding of what actually happened and why. This screening will be followed by the Q&A with director Tomasz Wolski.


JW3 is to screen two outstanding and incredibly powerful films during the Festival. Ryszard Brylski’s THE DEATH OF ZYGIELBOJM  the true and little known story of the tragic fate of Szmul Zygielbojm, an exiled Jewish political activist who committed suicide in London in 1943 to draw attention to the plight of Jews in Europe. Seen through the eyes of a child called Tomek, Konrad Aksinowicz’s moving and raw BACK TO THOSE DAYS at his life with an alcoholic father, who eventually destroys his family life and childhood.

Full details on all of the films taking part in the Festival and a link to book tickets can be found on Kinoteka’s dedicated website:-


Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowyck (2018)

Dir: Kuba Mikurda | Wri: Marcin Kubawski, Kuba Mikurda |

Love Express. The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk by debut documentarian and academic Kuba Mikurda explores the career of the Polish controversial cult filmmaker who rose to international recognition during the 1970s with his erotic arthouse fare. A brilliant opening sees Borowczyk accused of being “a complete pervert” by his French interviewer. His smart rejoinder is that everyone indulges in subversive thoughts but he gives them life in his films.

Mikurda captures the Avantgarde weirdness of it all by patching together clips from the Polish surrealist’s films interpolated by the emotive musings from other filmmaking luminaries – the late Andrzej Wajda, Terry Gilliam, Patrice Leconte, Slavoj Zizek, Neil Jordan, Bertrand Bonello and Mark Cousins are overlaid by pithy quotes and comments made by Mr B himself who is now considered one of the 20th century’s most significant animators and auteurs. Several call him naive: Lisbeth Hummel (who appeared in The Beast) and Cherry Porter who also claims he became less lyrical about women in his later years. British critic Peter Bradshaw admits to being totally bemused by his stuff as a teenager back in the 1970s, but also confesses they were very male films: men were both the filmmakers, and the consumers – well done Peter!.

The cult classic clips include many of the maverick filmmaker’s best known features and Mikurda and his writer Kubawski divide these into chapters devoted to Goto, Island of Love (1968), Immoral Tales (1974) and The Beast (1975), accompanied by Stefan Wesolowski’s fricative occasional score, which gives the piece a scattergun rhythm.

And although they all have a great deal of interesting observations to make, the talking heads take up the lion’s share of the film rather than the great man himself who remains an enigmatic figure, although open-faced and amiable enough, speaking perfect French in a TV interview back in 1984. We learn nothing of his early life in Poland and the relationships that shaped him and his self-imposed exile from his homeland?. This background could have informed his delicately drawn erotic films with their distinct cultural and historical flavour.

Naturally the segment on Sylvia Kristel and Emmanuelle V (1986) gets a great deal of screen time with worthwhile input from the film’s co-director Thierry Bazin (who claims Mr B only ate potatoes during their daily lunches together). But this feature also marked his gradual decline, dealt with rather abruptly as the doc runs out of steam.

So Mikurda’s debut is a welcome attempt to shed light on the intriguing world of Walerian Borowczyk leaving ample room for more insight, particularly from a female point of view. MT



The Structure of Crystal | Struktura Krysztalu (1969) | Kinoteka 2018

Dir.: Krzysztof Zanussi; Cast: Barbara Wrzesinska, Jan Myslowicz, Andrzej Zarnecki; Poland 1969, 75 min.

In his feature debut, Polish veteran Krzysztof Zanussi examines the nature of friendship and male rivalry and explores whether a bond of shared history can still reunite us years later, or whether change and the passage of time is destined to drive us apart. The Structure of Crystal is an caustic psychodrama that has been compared to the work of Bresson, a filmmaker Zanussi very much admires.

Jan (Myslowicz) is a highly regarded chemist who has left the fast lane and competitive life of Warsaw behind to marry a local schoolteacher and earth mother, Anna (Wrzesinska) in a country village. Anna’s remote family home provides an idyllic retreat for the couple and their two children and for a time life is good. Until they invite another chemist and former colleague, Marek (Zarnecki), to stay. Marek has worked in the USA, and his photos of New York provide a bracing contrast to the couple’s placid rural existence. But the two men are soon arguing over work issues and Anna is a little bit too flirty with this man from ‘the big smoke’, although she also complains about the men’s “egoistical” attitude. Jan starts to come over as a martyr, trying to justify his country existence on environmental grounds, over his life in Warsaw. He tries to undermine  his rather racy city colleague taking the moral high ground– the usual male rivalry is played out but Jan is unsure whether he’s made the right choice. Zanussi, who studied chemistry himself (“I loved chemistry, but it did not love me”) was a documentary filmmaker before he turned his talents to filmmaking and this is borne out in DoP Stefan Matyjaszkiewicz’s long panning shots that circle the protagonists, showing them as objects in the domestic environment – the human interaction intruding upon the peaceful, balanced rhythm of the setting. A reflective and humane ‘Kammerspiel’. AS


The Last Family (2016) |Ostantia Rodzina |Kinoteka 2017

Dir.: Jan. P. Matuszynski; Cast: Andrzej Seweryn; David Ogrodnik, Aleksandra Konieczna, Andrzej Chyra, Alicja Karluk, Magdalena Boczarska; Poland 2016, 122 min.

The debut feature of 32 year-old Polish director Jan P. Matuszynski is an emotionally harrowing and visually stunning tour-de-force, capturing the latter part of the life of the Polish post-surrealist painter Zdzislaw Beksinski (1929-2005). Brilliantly executed in details, in common with many biopics, it suffers from occasionally lacking cohesion in so far as that the scenes, however impressive,  do not always hang together as a whole.

The most important aspect of The Last Family is the part we never get to see: Beksinski Senior actually painting (even though the flat is filled with his finished works). His art is hardly referred to, and during the lengthy episode of his life that forms the focus of this study, from 1977 to 2005, none of the Poland’s political changes are mentioned or in any way manifest themselves in the life of the family. Instead we are immediately thrown in at the deep-end: in 2005 the painter recalls disturbing phantasies in an interview, concerning a virtual reality in which he wants to have S/M games with Alicia Silverstone (artificially made taller by three inches). The narrative then flips back back to 1977 when the Beksinki parents Zdzislaw (Seweryn) and Zofia (Konieczna) take their son Tomasz (Ogrodnik) to his new flat, which is in a high-rise block opposite their own. It soon becomes clear that Tomasz keeps his parents busy: whilst professionally adapt – he is a club- and radio DJ, as well as a translator from English into Polish – his emotional growth seems to stunted, he permanently self-pities himself, relying on his parents for any domestic arrangements, and seems to be unable to love anybody but himself. He also seems unable to perform sexually, which is graphically displayed in a scene with his girl-friend Patrycja (Karluk).

His father, who obsessively tapes and videos his family, seems, in contrast, very placid and good-natured, even though, looking at his paintings we may doubt his inner peace. The family is held together by Zofia, who cares for the two men, in addition to the paternal and maternal grandmothers, both called Stanislawa. The only outside interloper is ex-pat Piotr Dmochowski (Chyra), who visits the painter from Paris, trying to sell his paintings in France. He is later banished on account of his unauthorised biography of the family, but after Zofia’s death, Zdzislaw allows him back into his life. After trying in vain to kill himself for twenty-three year, Tomasz succeeds finally at the end of millennium: his father, sitting beside his body, sarcastically congratulates his son. In a violent finale the painter becomes the victim of a young man, reminding us very much of Kieslowski’s A short film about Killing.

DoP Kacper Fertacz camera pictures the Beksinski’s through a peephole: giving us an intimate and voyeuristic view of proceedings. Tomasz’ place is shown the same claustrophobic way. Writer Robert Bolesto, basing his script on the painter’s recordings and diaries, surprises us with some unusual ideas: there is a scene where Tomasz is telling the inflight stewardess that his numerologist told him the plane would crash, but he would survive – which is shown to be true. The leading trio is brilliant, particularly Konieczna, whose Zofia is always keeping the balance of the family life and Andrzej Seweryn went on to win Best Actor at Locarno Film Festival 2016. The choice of music – among others Schnittke and Mahler at the finale – rounds up this apocalyptic and traumatic experience. AS




To Kill A Beaver (2012) **** Zabic Bobra Kinoteka 2013

Director: Jan Jakub Kolski
Script: Jan Jakub Kolski
Producer: Wieslaw Lysakowski
Cast: Erik Lubos, Agnieszka Pawelkiewicz, Alexandra Michael, Marek Kasprzyk, Mariusz Bonaszewski, Mateusz Krol, Daniel Misiewicz

Poland  100mins 2012 Psychodrama

[youtube id=”qmQ3A5k-Q_E” width=”600″ height=”350″]

My introduction to this year’s Kinoteka, the 11th Polish Film festival here in London, comes via Polish filmmaker and son of editor Roman Kolski, Jan Jakub Kolski has made fourteen films and is regarded as the founder of ‘magical realism’ in Poland. Certainly he’s an auteur at the top of his game.

To Kill A Beaver is a dark study into the psychology of one man and the damage that abuse or exposure to trauma can elicit. And it is quite brilliant. Eryk Lubos won Best Actor plaudits at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival last year for his completely committed performance in the lead role and appreciation also needs to go out to young Agnieszka Pawelkiewicz for her contribution. Let me tell you, the director demanded alot of both of them.

The camera is left simply to observe the actor’s fine craft of inhabiting the mind body and soul of his character, in this case an ex-soldier returning home to his house in rural Poland, after an extended time away. But there is no respite. He’s expecting guests and is on high alert.

The plot only slowly reveals more clues as to who he is, what has happened and indeed, what is happening now. But it is a delicious reveal. As an audience we are captivated and ready for each chip as it is dished up.

It will be interesting to see whether an American star sees this film and decides he has to do a remake. It’s one of those roles actors cry out for, showcasing their abilities more than effects or clever repartee.

This is also a first film for Cinematographer Michal Pakulski, having worked his way up the traditional way through the camera, from Gaffer to Operator and finally here lighting and lensing and he has done a superb job, with a real understanding of what the script and the central character required of him, helping augment the story without becoming the story. Hopefully he too will move from strength to strength on the back of this fine feature debut.

So, a salty introduction it is too, my appetite whetted for more from the Polish school of film. Let’s face it, when the Poles get it right, there really is no finer film to be had. AT

Kinoteka, the 11th Polish Film Festival runs 7-17th March 2013 in London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Liverpool.

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