Thursday, 10 March 2016

Preview: Kinoteka – The 14th Polish Film Festival, London (7 – 28 April, 2016)

Szanowni Państwo! Kinoteka – The Polish Film Festival takes place in London from 7th – 28th April.  Now in its 14th edition, the Festival continues to go from strength to strength, and the 2016 line-up is a particularly enticing one, with a great mix of new titles and classics, arthouse and mainstream, interviews, concerts and exhibitions, that testify to a very vibrant moment for Polish film while honouring its rich history as well.

When I wrote about last year’s edition, which was largely based around the “Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema” tour, I took issue with just two aspects: the paucity of new films presented and the lack of work by women directors, with Aneta Kopacz’s short Joanna and Agnieszka Holland’s Provincial Actors the only female-helmed films featured over the two month season. The latter absence felt particularly unfortunate and unrepresentative, given the large number of women working prominently in Polish film financing, production and distribution at the present time.

Agnieszka Holland

It’s pleasing, then, to see both of these issues remedied this year, with a focus on Holland – who’ll be in attendance for an “In Conversation” with Mark Lawson at the BFI on 12 April – and a strong showing for a wide range of recent films, from Marcin Wrona’s Ansky-derived Demon through Jacek Bromski’s hot bromance thriller Anatomy of Evil to Małgorzata Szumowska’s much-honoured Body/Ciało. (The only regrettable omissions in the programme this time are Filip Bajon’s delicious Krystyna Janda-starring huis clos Panie Dulskie and Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s wild mermaid extravaganza Córki Dancingu (The Lure), a winner at both Gdynia and Sundance.)

Andrzej Żuławski
The recent death of Andrzej Żuławski has turned what was to have been a retrospective, with the director in attendance, into a commemorative celebration, with screenings of the mind-blowing  likes of Possession at the ICA, plus the highly anticipated UK premiere of the director’s Locarno-honoured Cosmos. (You can read Michał Oleszczyk's incisive and heartfelt tribute to Żuławski here.)

Jerzy Skolimowski 

A Jerzy Skolimowski retrospective is another highlight, with rare showings of the director’s early Polish work, and an Opening Night screening of his latest, the sensational city symphony 11 Minutes, followed by a Q&A at the Barbican on 7th April. Other notable events include a screening of the re-jigged version of Jerzy Hoffman’s hugely enjoyable Oscar-nominated 1974 epic Potop (The Deluge) (previously presented at Gdynia in 2014) and the Closing Night Gala, which features a swing band party to complement the screening of Janusz Morgenstern's Goodbye, See You Tomorrow.  

These Daughters of Mine (dir. Dębska)

I had the great pleasure of seeing a number of the new films screened in Kinoteka 2016 at last year’s Gdynia Film Festival, and links to my reviews of Krzysztof Łukaszewicz’s Karbala (Poland’s Hurt Locker, if you will),  Dariusz Gajewski’s Strange Heaven, Kinga Dębska’s These Daughters of Mine, and Maciej Migas’s  Life Must Go On, plus the aforementioned 11 Minutes and Body/Cialo,  can all be found here11 Minutes, These Daughters of Mine and Body/Ciało also made my Top 15 films of 2015 list, and I interviewed Szumowska at last year’s London Film Festival as well. 

The full programme for Kinoteka 2016 can be viewed here. Zapraszamy Państwa do kina, na polskie filmy!

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