Women directors - and actresses - from Poland have portrayed life under communism, teen pregnancy, repressed homosexuality and the clash of religion with modernity
A scene from Baby Blues by Katarzyna Rosłaniec
Throughout late November, movie theaters in New York City host an array of screenings exploring the multifaceted feminine perspective in cinema. Women directors - and actresses - from Poland have portrayed life under communism, teen pregnancy, repressed homosexuality and the clash of religion with modernity
The programme runs under the title Different Ages, Different Voices: Polish Women in Film. The idea behind this diverse series is to present a wide variety of female cinematic voices emerging in Poland in recent years, and juxtapose them with earlier work that dealt with Polish women’s experience under the communist rule. Documentary shorts by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Marcel Łoziński, together with remarkable and perhaps less-known early work by Agnieszka Holland accompany screenings of the newest films by Polish women filmmakers.
These new works deal with issues as diverse as teen pregnancy, repressed homosexuality in Polish clergy, and the clash of religious tradition with modernity. The organisers of the screenings attempt to create a humane and subversive mixture in order to help viewers understand the complex and conflicted Polish mentality along with its rapid changes. Most screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with the directors, in order to further enhance dialogue and discussion on the presented issues.
- Opening night: 21st of November, 7 pm
MoMA Screening Room (125 seats)
“Baby Blues” (2012, 99’) by Kasia Rosłaniec
Awarded the Crystal Bear and a Best Feature Award in the Generation 14+ section of Berlin International Film Festival, this audacious, lively second feature by Kasia Rosłaniec tells a story of very young parents and their irresponsible, devil-may-care ways of raising their child. Channeling the work of Harmony Korine, Gus Van Sant and Larry Clark – but infusing the narrative with its very own brand of subversive humour – Rosłaniec’s film presents a fresh look at Polish urban youth and comments on the issue of teen pregnancy.
Tribeca Film Center (92 seats)
6 pm - Studio Munka presents:
“Mercy” (2012, 18’) by Eliza Subotowicz
“The Princess and the Wall” (2012, 14’) by Małgorzata Kozera
Both screenings are followed by a talk with the directors.
These two shorts by young, award-winning Polish directors focus on the tension between tradition and modernity that still defines much of contemporary Poland. Boldly confronting the issues of religious faith (in Mercy) and cultural influences that shape children’s dreams (The Princess and the Wall), both shorts present a complex view of Polish reality and the young women who try to find their place within it.
8 pm - Working Women:
"24 Hours of Jadwiga L." (1967, 14’), by Krystyna Gryczełowska
"A Woman Alone" (1981, 92’) by Agnieszka Holland
Krystyna Gryczełowska was one of the key Polish documentary filmmakers of her time, and her body of work is a unique testimony to social changes taking place in communist Poland. In this miniature portrait of a working-class woman as she goes through the toil and drudgery of her day and night, Gryczałowska captures the drab reality without taking away her subject’s dignity.
A Woman Alone is an outrageously bleak, hard-hitting story of a single mother trying to raise her child in a small Polish town against all odds. Maria Chwalibóg’s knockout performance shows all the desperation of Irena, who delivers mail by day and dreams of escaping harsh reality of her surroundings. Her love affair with a sickly, disabled man played with great sensitivity by the future heartthrob Bogusław Linda, seems to have a liberating potential, until bad luck strikes again. One of the daring films of its era, A Woman Alone still has raw power of uncompromising, deeply personal cinema. The film was made for Polish TV in 1981, but because of censorship’s intervention wasn’t shown publicly till 1987.
Tribeca Film Center (92 seats)
6 pm - Urszula's Way:
“So That It Doesn’t Hurt” (1998, 45’) by Marcel Łoziński
Urszula Flis was born into a traditional family of Polish farmers and was expected to follow the ways of her small home village. Instead of marrying, she chose running her household on her own, taking care of her elderly mother and devoting all the leisure she had to her true passion: reading. Her vast knowledge of literature made her able to correspond with some of the key intellectuals of her day. Marcel Łoziński portrayed her as a young woman in his own short The Visit (1974) and came back to her in 1998 in So That It Doesn’t Hurt, showing Urszula as she reflects on the life choices she once made. A unique portrait by one of the great Polish filmmakers.
8 pm - Women by Kieślowski:
"From the City of Łódź” ( 1969, 12’)
"Seven Women of Different Ages” ( 1978, 13’)
"First Love” ( 1974, 52’)
Krzysztof Kieślowski, usually celebrated for his late feature films such as the Three Colors trilogy, was a consummate director of documentary shorts way before he made his first feature film. A master of curt, effective storytelling, he explored variety of subjects in strikingly original form. These three films all focus to a various degree on female subjects: factory workers, ballet dancers and a very young pregnant wife trying to make a living in mid-1970s Poland.
9:30 pm – “Losing Sonia” by Radka Franczak (2012)
Losing Sonia - trailer from Wajda Studio on Vimeo.
The new documentary by Polish filmmaker Radka Franczak focuses on a young Russian Orthodox nun named Sonia, whose unconventional ways make her stand out from the world and community around her. She’s part of the religious community, but her life has its own rhythms, as she paints icons and takes care of her cats and plants. As we examine Sonia’s life, we also learn about her family history, deeply scarred by the many upheavals Russia experiences in the last two centuries.
Tribeca Film Center
5pm – "In the Name…" (2013) by Małgośka Szumowska
Winner of the Teddy award for the best LGBTQ-themed film at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, the film focuses on a gay priest played by Andrzej Chyra, who is trying to fight his desires and function in a small Polish village filled with xenophobia and desperation. Beautifully shot, the film is yet another triumph for the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Małgośka Szumowska, typically hard-hitting and affectionate at the same time. Szumowska is the key female voice in contemporary Polish film. The screening is followed by a discussion with Szumowska
7:30 pm – "Flying Blind" (2013, 88’) by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz
A powerful story of a passion between a British military engineer and a young Algerian man reveals the hidden racial and cultural tensions that are usually ignored in mainstream cinema. This honest, uncompromising melodrama touches upon a number of political and social issues that still define whom we are allowed to love and what is the price to pay for following one’s heart and passion.
The programmers of the event are Agata Drogowska and Michał Oleszczyk.
The series is presented by the Polish Cultural Institute New York, Polish Filmmakers NYC and Polish Film Institute. It benefits from the support of New York Women of Fillm & Television and Munk Studio.
Editor: Paulina Schlosser, 25.10.2013
source: press release, organiser’s material