This year, the 12th Polish Film Festival brings not only its usual bounty of new works and rare classics, but also very excitingly includes the first major UK retrospective of the work of the brilliant Walerian Borowczyk, a firm favourite at Electric Sheep. We will celebrate this very special event by making Borowczyk the focus of our next theme, starting in May, exploring his work through articles and our usual columns, including a feature by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird, who collaborated to the retrospective.
The programme will celebrate Borowczyk’s rich and varied body of work, including his artwork, early shorts, animation and live-action features, many of which have been rarely or never seen in the UK and have been fully restored. Best known for insane erotic masterpiece The Beast, Borowczyk had started as a poster designer and acclaimed animator, producing the wonderfully inventive Angels’ Games in 1964 before moving into live-action features with the splendidly surreal The Theatre or Mr and Mrs Kabal and Goto, Island of Love.
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, events and talks, featuring newly restored prints. In addition, the ICA will also be hosting the first UK exhibition of Borowczyk’s artwork, including preliminary work for his animated films, as well as his wooden sound sculptures. The ICA Cinema will also screen two shorts programmes including Angels’ Games.
Career Retrospective ‘Cinema of Desire, The Films of Walerian Borowczyk’ developed in collaboration with Daniel Bird, runs throughout May at BFI Southbank and the exhibition Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye’ takes place at the ICA from 20 May to 29 June.
Arrow Academy’s dual format (DVD + Blu-ray) box set release of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection (released 18 August 2014) brings together key films from 1959 through to 1984.
Other highlights of the KINOTEKA festival picked from the press release include:
Pawel Pawlikowski multi-award-winning new film Ida will screen at a special centrepiece gala screening at the Barbican (24 May) 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.
‘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.
Riverside Studios will showcase an exhibition of posters designed by Henryk Tomaszewski (21 April – 3 May) to mark the centenary of the birth of one of the founding fathers of the classic Polish School of Posters. Tomaszewski was known for creating expressive posters, based on visual shortcuts and metaphors, opening up a move towards greater simplicity as the foundation of his graphic language. The exhibition in London is a satellite event being held concurrently with a major exhibition of his work in Poland curated by Agnieszka Szewczyk; ‘I’ve Been Here; I Hope The Same For You’ Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (14 March – 10 June).
And we are particularly looking forward to KINOTEKA’S Closing Night Concert, which takes place at the Union Chapel on 30 May, described as follows:
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 be the UK premiere of 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 twilit 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.