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12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival

Returning to London for a 12th successful year, the KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival brings a bumper edition (24th April – 30th May) to audiences across London and the UK, with a five-week celebration of the best of Polish Cinema, music and visual arts. This year’s programme offers an inspiring, diverse choice of screenings, including UK premieres, exhibitions, concerts, interactive workshops and masterclasses.

KINOTEKA is presented by the Polish Cultural Institute in association with the festival sponsor, MyFerryLink and supported by the Polish Film Institute. Venues participating in the 12th KINOTEKA programme include the Barbican, Riverside Studios, BFI Southbank, ICA, The National Gallery and Tate Modern, plus exciting new additions for 2014: Dalston’s Café Oto, Islington’s Union Chapel, the Frontline Club and Clapham Picturehouse as well as a record number of cinemas across the country taking part in this year’s KINOTEKA on tour, in partnership with Project Film London.

Walerian Borowczyk Retrospective - Cinema of Desire

This year, KINOTEKA invites you to rediscover the amazing work of painter, sculptor and filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk (1923-2006) with the first major UK retrospective celebrating his prolific body of work, focusing on his artwork, early shorts, ground breaking animations and live-action features, many of which have been rarely seen or previously unseen in the UK and have been fully restored.

With the utmost attention to sights, sounds and textures, Borowczyk’s remarkable cinematic fables of desire, including The Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal, Blanche and Goto, Island of Love are truly astonishing works of art, rooted in his belief that artists should be able to work in complete freedom. In France, Cahiers du Cinema devoted a whole issue to Borowczyk, while in the United Kingdom his work served as a catalyst, inspiring a whole generation of artists including Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam, the Brothers Quay, feminist fabulist Angela Carter, not to mention poster maestro Andrzej Klimowski and fine artist Craigie Horsfield.

For the first time, BFI Southbank and the ICA will be jointly holding a retrospective in partnership with KINOTEKA, running throughout May with film screenings, an exhibition, tie in events and talks, featuring newly restored prints, made available by Arrow Films.

In addition, the ICA will also be hosting the first UK exhibition of Borowczyk’s artwork in the Fox Reading Room. Given unprecedented access to his archive, the exhibition features works on paper, including Borowczyk’s inimitable graphics and preliminary work for his animations, as well as his remarkable wooden sound sculptures and rarely seen photos and other archival material. To complement the exhibition the ICA Cinema will also screen two shorts programmes including his seminal 1964 animation, Angels’ Games.

The retrospective offers audiences a chance to view this remarkable and often controversial artist’s filmography afresh as a whole. Described by film critic and historian David Thomson as "one of the major artists of modern cinema, (and) arguably the finest talent that East Europe has provided". KINOTEKA sets out to reclaim Borowczyk’s position as a titan of world cinema.

Career Retrospective “Cinema of Desire, The Films of Walerian Borowczyk” developed in collaboration with Borowczyk specialist Daniel Bird, runs throughout May at BFI Southbank and the exhibition “Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye” takes place at the ICA from 20 May-29 June.

Arrow Academy’s box set release of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection (released 30 June) brings together key films from the artist’s twenty five year period stretching from 1959 through to 1984.

New Polish Cinema

KINOTEKA opened on 24th April, with the award winning Papusza, a biography of the rise and fall of Polish-Gypsy poet Bronislawa Wajs, widely known as Papusza (1908-1987), and her relationship with her discoverer, writer Jerzy Ficowski. Directors Joanna Kos-Krauze & Krzysztof Krauze (Saviour Square, The Debt)’s film premiered at Karlovy Vary and is an insightful portrait of the Polish Roma community and of a way of life pushed to the margins of society. Papusza will be released in UK cinemas this autumn through New Wave Films.

The Riverside Studios play host to KINOTEKA’s popular New Polish Cinema strand, delivering a consistently strong selection of Polish films from the last year, boasting critical and box office successes. Traffic Department (25 April) the highest grossing Polish film of 2013 is an action packed, breakneck paced tale of sleaze and corruption in a Warsaw police department. Wojciech Smarzowski (Rose, The Dark House)’s fourth film nails down his position in the front rank of European writer-directors working today. Set in the traffic division where alcohol, drugs, sex and bribery are the norm, one policeman (Bartlomiej Topa) doesn’t know where to turn when he is falsely accused of murdering a fellow officer. As the conspiracy grows bigger it’s obvious that somebody will have to pay the price. The ensemble cast, is rock-solid and there’s a fabulous score by leading jazz composer, Mikolaj Trzaska whose soundtrack work will be celebrated at Café Oto.

Maciej Pieprzyca’s Life Feels Good, (26 April) swept the jury, audience and ecumenical prizes at the Montreal Film Festival. An uplifting tribute to the human spirit, this truth-inspired biopic about a man with cerebral palsy struggling to communicate to those around him is an entertaining film, brilliantly acted by non-disabled performers, the film captures as much wonderment as frustration and is filled with fully fleshed-out characters. KINOTEKA will welcome lead actor, the award-winning promising young star, Dawid Ogrodnik, who also appears in Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, which screened at the Festival ahead of its UK release later this year through Artificial Eye. Pawlikowski’s latest film is a poetic, almost Bressonian exploration of the limits of faith following the story of Anna, a young novice in rural 1960s Poland, who discovers a dark family secret on the verge of taking her vows. Exquisitely composed and shot in luminescent black and white, Ida won Best Film at the London Film Festival and was reviewed by Nick Chen for The Digital Fix here.

Prolific scriptwriter, director, producer and President of the Polish Filmmakers Association, Jacek Bromski returns to Kinoteka to screen his latest work, Ticket to the Moon (27 April) starring Filip Pławiak who plays Adam, a young man not long out of high school who is called up for military service in his sleepy backwater town. Accompanied by his elder brother Antoni, a self-proclaimed ladies man, Adam is taught valuable life lessons in love and romance before he has to knuckle down to military service. Jacek Bromski and Filip Pławiak.will present the film at the Riverside with an audience Q&A.

Weronika Migon will present her debut feature Sophie Seeks Seven (25 April) along with her lead actress Katarzyna Maciag for a Q&A screening. The film tells the story of Zosia, a young woman who decides to take stock of her relationships after splitting with her cheating boyfriend. She has a plan to find the men who were once important in her life to see if somewhere along the way she did not miss ‘the one’.

KINOTEKA and the Polish Cultural Institute in London continue their highly successful collaboration with Second Run DVD’s on their Polish Cinema Classics releases with a special edition DVD of the fully restored version of Andrzej Wajda’s epic 1976 film, Man of Marble. Often described as ‘the Polish Citizen Kane’, Man of Marble tells the story of a determined young filmmaker, Agnieszka, who sets out to make a documentary about ‘Worker’s Hero’ Mateusz Birkut, who rose to fame in the early days of the Communist regime, only to disappear into obscurity. Stopped by the powers that be, the idealistic filmmaker continues her enquiries even more determinedly to purse Birkut’s story and the truth. A milestone in Polish Cinema and one of the key films of the 1970s, KINOTEKA are proud to present a beautifully restored print of Wajda’s electrifying political saga at the Barbican Cinema (11 May) to accompany the DVD release.

Documentary masters

Documentary filmmakers Marcel Łozinski and Maciej Drygas will both present their latest films at the Clapham Picturehouse and the Frontline Club respectively in partnership with the Open City Docs Festival. Marcel and Pawel Łozinski share a name, a profession which is their passion and a strong and complicated bond as father and son, full of resentments and implicit meanings. In Father and Son: A Journey (28 April), Marcel Łozinski’s film recollects his painful childhood, the loss of his mother and the choices that had a significant impact on his son Pawel’s life. Framed by a car journey the two take across Europe, the film captures their different viewpoints and an opportunity to confront memory. Filmed over several years, Maciej Drygas’s Abu Haraz (19 May) follows the harrowing fate of the residents of a small North Sudanese village, Abu Haraz, who’s natural rhythm of life is torn apart by the construction of a huge dam on the Nile.

Sex behind the Iron Curtain

Sex in the Polish Socialist Republic is a fascinating and insightful look at sex and intimacy behind the Iron Curtain with a programme of Polish animation shorts from the Communist period, thematically linked around sex. The topic is transformed artistically and often ironically with works by leading Polish animators Julian Józef Antoniusz, Andrzej Czeczot, Piotr Dumała and Alexander Sroczyński amongst others. The screening at the Barbican (12 May) is organised in partnership with the London International Animation Festival.

Academy Award-winner BAFTA screentalk

The Polish Academy Award-winning production designer and set decorator Allan Starski’s impressive body of work will be discussed in depth at BFI Southbank for a BAFTA masterclass (29 April). In a career spanning over 40 years Starski has collaborated with many universally recognised directors both in Poland and Hollywood most notably with Steven Spielberg (winning an Oscar for Schindler’s List), Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, Washington Square), Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Oliver Twist) and worked most extensively with Andrzej Wajda (credits including Man Of Marble, Man of Iron, Danton, The Possessed) amongst others. With his design talents constantly in demand, Starski’s most recent projects include Peter Webber’s Hannibal Rising and Fatih Akin’s latest film, The Cut starring Tahar Rahim.

Closing Night Gala

KINOTEKA’S Closing Night Concert event takes place at the Union Chapel on 30th May. Produced by the Barbican, the concert will premiere two short films by the Quay Brothers with live soundtrack provided by the legendary Arditti Quartet. The Gala will UK premiere the Quay Brothers latest short film Kwartet Smyczkovy, and the critically acclaimed In Absentia, taking existing musical compositions for their inspiration.

In Absentia directly responds to Stockhausen’s electronic composition Two Couples (1992/1999). The hypnotic visual language of the film and fragmented mode of narrative intensifies the associative power of the music like an additional, visual voice in the polyvocal texture. Kwartet Smyczkovy - Paraphrase on Peter Handke’s ‘The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other’ - is based on Lutosławski’s only string quartet, composed in 1964 and marks the centenary of the composer’s birth. The Quay Brothers react to the melodic superimpositions and flickering micro-rhythms of the composition with stark and eerie twi-lit images. The Arditti Quartet will perform these pieces live, in dialogue with the projection and will also perform Alban Berg’s Lyrische Suite, between the films, understood as an aural ‘film’ for the ears.

The concert opens with a live performance by Skalpel; Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, a Polish DJ/producer duo from Wroclaw. Skalpel’s trademark is sampling Polish jazz of the 1960s and 1970s, constructing their own original vision of contemporary sound, combining jazz, hip hop and club music. In 2001 they submitted their sensational Polish Jazz demo to the cult British record label Ninja Tune and were signed. They released two acclaimed albums Skalpel and Konfusion through Ninja worldwide.

After taking a few years off to work on solo projects, Skalpel reunited, initially for a one off show at the 2012 Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow where they presented a daring, yet stylistically unique take on four Polish icons of contemporary music composition: Penderecki, Kilar, Lutosławski and Gorecki. The reviews were so enthusiastic that the duo decided to perform more live shows together and work on a third album together which is due for release later in 2014. At KINOTEKA Skalpel will present their unique interpretation of Lutosławski and Panufnik’s music to mark these famous composers’ joint centenary year (1913-1914).

For full programme details visit the Festival website.

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