A creepy short by Roman Polański, a silent film by Wajda based on a Chekhov piece, The Catcher in the Rye according to Zanussi, and a socialist realist Shakespeare according to Skolimowski. The Łódź Film School makes public 100 short films by some of its best known alumni.
Lamp - Roman Polański, 1959
Polanski's debut film studies have cult status (Uśmiech zębiczny / Teeth Smile, Rozbijemy zabawę / Break Up the Dance and Dwaj ludzie z szafą / Two Men and a Wardrobe [watch online], Gdy spadają anioły / When Angels Fall [watch online]. Lampa is different. With aching irony, Polański blurs the line between dream, reality and film. Shots of eerie dolls set to the hair-raising music of Krzysztof Komeda.
Black and White - Agnieszka Osiecka, 1958
After graduating Osiecka chose music over the cinema but this colour and shade-driven film study shows her original path.
Hamleś - Jerzy Skolimowski, 1960
Skolimowski was a sought-after script writer even before graduating. He co-authored Knife in the Water with Polański and Innocent Sorcerers with Wajda. His first film studies are humorous yet grotesque and absurd: Oko wykol (1960), Rzeźba / Sculpture (1961), Erotyk (1961), Druga taryfa (1962). Hamleś is a silent adaptation of Shakespeare transported into a socialist realist setting. Ofelka, Hamleś and Laercio wander around a grim, dilapidated building to a reveller's drunken song.
Bad Boy - Andrzej Wajda, 1951
Most film buffs are familiar with Polański's and Kieślowski's first film studies, but few have seen Andrzej Wajda's first films, making the publishing of Zły chłopiec / Bad Boy a real red-letter event. This is a silent slapstick adaptation of an Anton Chekhov novel.
Holden - Krzysztof Zanussi, 1961
Zanussi's Holden from Jerome D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye wears a baseball cap and listens to jazz. He is an ordinary teenager who is impassioned about girls and the exploits of his friends. The director of Illumination only adapted an extract of the best-selling novel.
Concert of Wishes - Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1967
A team-building trip in the 1960s to a natural reserve, courtesy of the maker of the Three Colours... The filmmaker chose to concentrate on documentaries for a long time before turning to features, making this early twenty-minute short feature an auspicious work.
Square - Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1972
Entering the realm of animation, Rybczyński's experimental Kwadrat / Square explores the atomic structure of the human being. An analysis of how media can come into contact with reality, using pixelated visuals reminiscent of Tetris.
Conflicts - Daniel Szczechura, 1960
Inspired by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, Szczechura's Konflikty / Conflicts came out during the rebirth of animation in Poland. For more than a decade after the war, the genre was seen as a tool to entertain children. Szczechura's award-winning short tipped the scales in the opposite direction.
First Fly Out - Michał Poniedzielski, 2004
Film, że mucha nie siada / First Fly Out is a laugh-out-loud short animation about a cursing fly. The countless "Kurwas" are not exaggerated here, because the poor insect is completely ignored when he no longer impresses the other flies with his crazy antics.
A Day Like Every Day - Kazimierz Karabasz, 1951
The first documentary of culture.pl's selection comes from Karabasz. Crammed tube carriages are especially horrible on hot summer days but travelling to Warsaw from the suburbs in the 1950s was easier said than done.
Overture - Marek Piwowski, 1965
No one was better at mocking the dull and sometimes absurd reality of the People's Republic of Poland than Marek Piwowski. Kirk Douglas (watch online), Muchotłuk (watch online), Przedział na sto i więcej osób / Compartment for One Hundred of More People (watch online), ridiculed and poured scorn.
Uwertura / Overture is one of the most hilarious shorts (in the form of a documentary) . These young men are undergoing a medical exam before being drafted. The impersonal treatment of the patients by the medical staff is a grotesque testimony to a totalitarian system that from today's perspective looks like an episode of Candid Camera.
Absolutorium - Marcel Łoziński, 1971
A class reunion after 10 years. The only difference between then and now is the waning idealism. Some are completely regretful, others still hope that in another 10 years things will be better. Marcel Łoziński doing what he does best.
Little Dying - Jan Jakub Kolski , 1984
Countryside life and the rituals surrounding death. Kolski's film coalesces Polish folk culture with French 19th-Century realism. The Polish title of the ten-minute short is Umieranko, roughly translated as Little Dying.
Ech - Marek Koterski, 1972
The creator of We're All Christs at the detoxification ward. A bleak portrait of the average patient who spends the night sobering up. Addictions and attempts to pierce through the cycle. Koterski revisited the theme in his later works - Przyszłość / Future (1981) and Przyczyny narkomanii / The Causes of Drug Addiction and most famously We're All Christs (2006).
Egg - Dorota Kędzierzawska, 1982
In a documentary dedicated to Wojciech Jerzy Has, Kędzierzawska admitted to being shy when she first arrived at the Łódź Film School. She found relief in opening up to children and the elderly. They have been the centre of her attention since her first films. Jajko / Egg made under the supervision of master of cinema Has is the story of a relation between a brother and a sister . The silent, delicate short motion picture was nominated for a student Oscar in 1983.
Krakatau - Mariusz Grzegorzek, 1986
Expressive and sickening, Krakatau is considered one of the best film studies of the early nineties. The raw and claustrophobic short alludes to the 1983 Krakatau volcano explosion. Under the watchful eye of Has, Grzegorzek, who is now a lecturer at the Film School "simply threw up everything that poisoned me" (quote from an interview with Maja Ruszpel in "Zwierciadło").
A Man Thing - Sławomir Fabicki, 2001
Thanks to the Student Oscar nomination in the "Live Action Short Film" category and numerous prizes at film festivals in Poland and beyond, this film is doubtlessly one of the most popular Polish shorts. "Sławomir Fabicki's A Man Thing is a film which hurts" Wojciech Kuczok wrote for Kino magazine. It tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who is degraded and beaten by his father and the boy's friendship with a sick dog from an animal shelter. His film sparked off a social discussion about domestic violence.
Melodrama - Filip Marczewski, 2005
Through the prism of incest, Marczewski shows the intense emotions linked with growing up. This daring project was one of the most awarded Polish shorts. Years later, Marczewski developed his student film study into a full length feature debut Bez wstydu / Shameless.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, translated with edits by Mai Jones 31.01.2014
Polish titles of shorts translated by Mai Jones