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Andrzej Wajda Film Retrospective in Lithuania

A. Goštauto g. 2
Andrzej Wajda, photo: Łukasz Ostalski / Reporter / East News

Andrzej Wajda, photo: Łukasz Ostalski / Reporter / East News

A retrospective of Andrzej Wajda's films will take place in Vilnius and Kaunas in December 2016. Ashes and Diamonds, The Promised Land, and The Conductor will be among the films presented as part of a project by the Polish Institute in Vilnius and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Andrzej Wajda, one of the greatest and most renowned Polish artists of the 20th century, passed away on 9th September 2016. His filmography is well-known and appreciated in Lithuania, although not all his films have been screened there. Some of them have never made it to cinemas and the most recent showings of the others took place many years ago. The review organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in co-operation with the Polish Institute in Vilnius will be a tribute to the recently deceased director and a chance to look back on his achievements. The retrospective's programme features lesser known films which have rarely been presented in Lithuania: Everything for Sale (1969), The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), The Conductor (1980), Man of Iron (1981), and Miss Nothing (1996).


Ashes and Diamonds, Poland, 1958, 97 minutes
Direction: Andrzej Wajda
Screenplay: Jerzy Andrzejewski, Andrzej Wajda,
Cinematography: Jerzy Wójcik
Starring: Zbigniew Cybulski, Ewa Krzyżewska, Wacław Zastrzeżyński, Adam Pawlikowski, Bogumił Kobiela, Jan Ciecierski and others

Ashes and Diamonds starts in May 1945, in the last days of WWII. Its main protagonist is a former soldier of the Home Army, Maciej Chełmicki. He is a member of the anti-communist underground, from whom he receives an order to kill the secretary of the Communist Polish Workers' Party. Maciej doesn't want to abandon his ideals, although he begins to understand that they have already lost their former importance. Wajda didn't hide that his film portrays the tragedy of the main protagonist – no matter what choice he makes, he will choose wrongly. Ashes and Diamonds, based on a story by J. Andrzejewski, is one of the most important films in the history of Polish cinematography.

7th December, 7 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
7th December, 8 p.m. Romuva Cinema (Kaunas)

Everything for Sale, Poland, 1969, 94 minutes
Direction and screenplay: Andrzej Wajda
Cinematography: Witold Sobociński
Music: Andrzej Korzyński
Starring: Andrzej Łapicki, Beata Tyszkiewicz, Elżbieta Czyżewska, Daniel Olbrychski, Bogumił Kobiela and others

Everything for Sale is Wajda's tribute to his tragically killed friend – one of the greatest Polish actors – Zbigniew Cybulski. It's also the iconic Polish ‘film about film’. The story's protagonists are members of a film crew, looking for a missing actor, who – as it turns out – died under the wheels of a train. Like Cybulski, the uniquely talented actor was full of contradictory features: a genius and a terrible mythomaniac at once. What parts of his life are true and what parts are legends? To what extent was he a real person, and how much of him is a creation? Everything for Sale is a self-reflective tale about the complicated relation between film (and probably art in general) and reality.

7th December, 9 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
8th December, 5:45 p.m. Romuva Cinema (Kaunas)
9th December, 5 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)

The Promised Land, Poland, 1975, 179 minutes
Direction and screenplay: Andrzej Wajda
Cinematography: Witold Sobociński, Edward Kłosiński, Wacław Dybowski
Starring: Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Kalina Jędrusik, Anna Nehrebecka, Bożena Dykiel and others

Three friends – a Pole, Karol Borowiecki; a German, Maks Baum; and a Jew, Moryc Welt – want to open a textiles factory in Łódź. To achieve this, they have to use different tricks forced by hard-hearted industrialists and cotton tycoons from Łódź. The adaptation of the story about the beginning of capitalism in Łódź written by Nobel Prize-winner Władysław Reymont was Wajda's farewell to Polish romanticism. Following the story of chasing their dream of winning a fortune, the director presented a naturalist synthesis of moral stances in the ruthless and vulgar struggle for money.

8th December, 8 p.m. Romuva Cinema (Kaunas)
11th December, 8 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)

Man of Iron, Poland, 1976, 195 minutes
Direction: Andrzej Wajda
Screenplay: Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski
Cinematography: Edward Kłosiński
Starring: Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, Krystyna Janda, Tadeusz Łomnicki, Jacek Łomnicki, Michał Tarkowski, Piotr, Wiesław Wójcik, Krystyna Zachwatowicz

Man of Iron is one of the most important Polish political films re-evaluating historical events – in this case, exposing the falsehoods of the communist government's propaganda. The film is also regarded as the first of the Polish cinema of moral anxiety movement. It's 1976 and in the corridor of a TV building, film school graduate Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda's debut) convinces an ‘important’ editor about the need to create a film about Mateusz Birkut, a bricklayer and respectable worker whose brilliant career ended unexpectedly in 1952. After negotiations, she finally gets the necessary film and equipment. She starts her own investigation, trying to find out the reason behind the fast development of Birkut's career and its fall. Whilst learning about his dramatic life she also discovers the bitter story of creating a socialist hero and the tragedy of a man stuck in a repressive system.

9th December, 8.15 p.m. Romuva Cinema (Kaunas)
10th December, 8 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
11th December, 3.00 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)

Still from the film Man of Iron featuring Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, photo: National Film Archive /
Still from the film Man of Iron featuring Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, photo: National Film Archive /

The Maids of Wilko, Poland, 1979, 116 minutes
Direction: Andrzej Wajda
Screenplay: Zbigniew Kamiński
Cinematography: Edward Kłosiński
Starring: Daniel Olbrychski, Anna Seniuk, Christine Pascal, Maja Komorowska, Stanisława Celińska.

The film adaptation of Jarosław Iwaszkiewkicz's novel The Maids of Wilko was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It tells the story of the 40-year-old Wiktor Ruben, heartbroken by the unexpected death of a friend and exhausted by his monotonous life on a farm near Warsaw. In 1928 he visits his uncle's farm and the neighbouring Wilko manor, where he'd met six young sisters 15 years prior, just before the war. One of them is dead and the surviving five are mature women now. Ruen discovers how important he was for Wilko's inhabitants. His arrival stirs up memories and old feelings, and forces the sisters to reflect on their fate and mistakes made in the past.

8th December, 7 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
9th December, 9 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
10th December 7.30 p.m. Romuna Cinema (Kaunas)

Still from Andrzej Wajda's 1979 film The Maids of Wilko, pictured: Anna Seniuk and Maja Komorowska, photo: Studio Filmowe Zebra/Filmoteka Narodowa/
Still from Andrzej Wajda's 1979 film The Maids of Wilko, pictured: Anna Seniuk and Maja Komorowska, photo: Studio Filmowe Zebra/Filmoteka Narodowa/


The Conductor, Poland, 1980, 102 minutes
Direction: Andrzej Wajda
Screenplay: Andrzej Kijowski
Cinematography: Sławomir Idziak
Starring: John Gielgud, Krystyna Janda, Andrzej Seweryn, Jan Ciecierski and others

The Conductor is the tragic story of three people who live for music. Marta is a young, talented violinist. During a scholarship in the United States she meets John Lasocki – a world-famous conductor and in the past, her mother's lover. The shock caused by meeting Marta awakens in the old master a desire to return to the past. Lasocki breaks off connections and stops caring about his schedule and commitments. He returns to Poland, to the provincial town where he was born over 70 years ago. Here, he wants to conduct Beethoven's 5th Symphony with the local orchestra. However, its manager is Marta's ambitious and slightly confused husband Adam. In Lasocki's arrival, Adam sees his great chance, but is also afraid of confrontation with such a great artist. He notices Marta's fascination with the great conductor, as well as his modesty, kindness, and deep understanding of the essence of music. A feeling of unknown danger grows in Adam and gradually transforms into jealousy, aggression, and even hysteria. Lasocki unexpectedly dies. Marta stays with her husband, but she judges him and his character harshly.

8th December, 9.15 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
9th December 9.00 p.m. Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius)
11th December, 3.30 p.m. Romuva Cinema (Kaunus)

More info at:

Andrzej Wajda, the Oscar and Palme d'Or-winning director, a true icon of Polish contemporary cinema... Read more about: The World Reacts to Andrzej Wajda’s Death

Andrzej Wajda’s films may be viewed as a journey through Polish history – the director dealt with... Read more about: Polish History as Seen by Andrzej Wajda

In what unexpectedly ended up being his final film, Andrzej Wajda returned to grand historical... Read more about: Afterimage: Andrzej Wajda's Swan Song

Source: AMI, written by md, translated by br

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