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Kinoteka 2014 – The Polish Film Festival in London

United Kingdom
Silk Street

These are the works of avant-garde artists, poets of theatre and director-provocateurs. Last season's most important premieres and Polish classics films are amongst those featured at the 12th Kinoteka – the Polish Film Festival in London.

For more than a month, London will host the most important festival of Polish cinema in Britain. The twelfth edition of Kinoteka will bring to the British public the best of Polish cinema, as well as that of music and the visual arts.


Walerian Borowczyk – the Cinema of Desire

A highlight of the programme prepared by the festival organizers is a retrospective of Walerian Borowczyk's films, one of the most controversial Polish filmmakers of the last half century. The retrospective will consist of short films and Borowczyk’s animations, many of which will make their British premiere.

Borowczyk was born in 1923 in Poland. He studied painting and graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and is considered as one of the fathers of the Polish School of Posters. In 1959, he emigrated to France where he initially worked on animated films. With time he became devoted to live-action cinema. In the seventies, he gained an international reputation as a creator of artistic erotic cinema and a provocateur making use of stories of human desire.

His films have inspired artists such as Terry Gilliam and the Quay Brothers. Film critic and historian David Thomson called Borowczyk "one of the most important artists of modern cinema and probably the greatest talent in Eastern Europe."

The retrospective also announces the British DVD edition of Borowczyk’s  restored short films (including the famous "Goto", "Island of Love" and "Blanche") and his two full-length films.

Sex Behind the Iron Curtain

The animations presented in the series Sex behind the Iron Curtain also tell stories of lust and sex. Works by Julian Józef Antonisz, Andrzej Czeczot, Piotr Dumała and Aleksander Sroczyński will be presented amongst many others. A leitmotif of all these films is sexuality in the communist People's Republic of Poland.

The Best Polish Films in London

Kinoteka is also an opportunity to view all of the major Polish releases of the past year. During this year's edition, the British public will watch films such as: Papusza  by Joanna Kos-Krauze  and Krzysztof Krauze , Traffic Department (Drogówka) by Wojtek Smarzowski, Life feels Good (Chce się żyćby Maciej Pieprzyca, Girl from the Wardrobe (Dziewczyna z szafy) by Bodo Kox, Loving (Miłość) by Sławomir Fabicki and Ida by Paweł Pawlikowski.


Viewers will also have the opportunity to talk with the filmmakers. Jowita Budnik, Joanna Kos-Krauze, Marcel Łoziński, Paweł Pawlikowski, Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal, Allan Starski and Mikołaj Trzaska are amongst those who will be at the festival to answer audience's questions.

The Borders of Cinema

Kinoteka is not only a review of the latest achievements of Polish cinema, but also a trip to the fringes of cinema, to the places where it meets with the other arts. Eminent visual artists and their films will be also presented to the London audience.



Lech Majewski will meet with the audience to present his film “Psoe Pole”,  a tale about a journey of recovery. Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal are to present "Alexander" - a documentary that is non-obvious continuation of the acclaimed "From a Distance, the View is Beautiful" (“Z daleka widok jest piękny”). The Kinoteka audience will also have the opportunity to see the film "Open Form: Art, Architecture and Film" by Oskar Hansen, an outstanding Polish architect.

Mikołaj Trzaska w Londynie

Mikołaj Trzaska, 31.05.2005, fot. Michal Szlaga/REPORTER/East News
Mikołaj Trzaska, 31.05.2005, photo. Michal Szlaga/REPORTER/East News

Mikołaj Trzaska will present his music and film project Trzaska Mówi Movie. The composer, saxophonist and clarinetist will lead a trio of musicians performing songs from the soundtracks of Wojtek Smarzowski's films.

Kinoteka is a project of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, created with the support of the Polish Film Institute, the National Film Archive, and the main Festival sponsor - MyFerryLink. Festival partners include British Academy of Film and Television Arts, London Film Academy, Artificial Eye, Polska Music, Frontline Club London. Film screenings, exhibitions and meetings are held at the Barbican Centre, The National Gallery, Tate Modern, BFI Southbank, Union Chapel and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Lutosławski according to The Quay Brothers


Bracia Quay, fot.
The Quay Brothers, photo.

During the festival’s closing ceremony, a film directed by the Quay Brothers with cooperation from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, will be presented. KwartetSmyczkovy - Paraphrase on Peter Handke's >> The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other << (2013) was made in connection with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Witold Lutosławski's birth. The inspiration for its creation was the Polish composer’s String Quartet and Peter Handke’s play The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. The London film screening will be accompanied by the music of Lutosławski played live by the legendary Arditti Quartet.

Everything blurs on the screen, is smooth - human figures, landscape, architecture - Filip Lech wrote in his film review. - The only permanent things are excerpts of 8mm tape recordings from a film directed by Quay Brothers in the ‘70s, during their stay in Poland - we see the old Krakow tram that passes somewhere near the park, a nun's silhouette. These authentic recordings, for a viewer lost in the world of the animation of US-European filmmakers, these pictures from the “real” world might seem as if they were taken from another reality. (...) All of this is associated with symbols, especially if we place these dreamlike images in the context of Polish culture and history. It seems to me that this is a trap which the Quay Brothers laid for viewers. What is significant is not necessarily immediately symbolic. KwartetSmyczkovy - Paraphrase on Peter Handke 's >> The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other << is an animated sculpture that can be described by using a word taken from Freud's unheimlich - amazing, but disturbing, derived from the human unconscious.

The Quay Brothers' film will feature at the closing ceremony of the London Event on May 30, 2014. Apart from KwartetuSmyczkovego..., the audience can admire the short film In Absentia, also directed by the Quay Brothers. It was created in 2000 on commission from the BBC and Pipeline Films for the Sound on Film International series, and inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen's music.

Both films will be accompanied by a performance by the Polish duo Skalpel. Its members, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudło, are music producers and DJs from Wroclaw. Their work is a combination of the Polish jazz of the 60's and 70's with hip-hop and club music. In London, they will present their own interpretations of Lutosławski's and Panufnik's works.

Also read: The Quay Brothers about music and Lutosławski in an interview with Filip Lech.

For more information see the website of the festival 


Source:, own materials. ed. BS, translated: Katarzyna Maksimiuk, 18.04.2014

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