The T-Mobile New Horizons international film festival, the biggest film festival in Poland and one of the important film events in Central Europe, presents uncompromising and innovative cinema from all over the world.
Andrzej Chyra in Małgorzata Szumowska's "In the Name of..."
If you're looking to discover significant works of artistic cinema, the newest trends of world cinema or unknown phenomenon from the history of cinema, this is the place to be. With the 2013 selection, New Horizons lives up to its reputation of being Poland's most interesting film festival. Culture.pl presents the Polish programme.
Walerian Borowczyk's Provocations
His animated films that made use of the "cut-out" technique in late-1950s Poland triggered a revolution in what had been a peripheral film genre. The retrospective of his films is considered among the festival's important events.
The screenings present Borowczyk and his work, filled with surreal imagery and experimental techniques. From a screening of the lesser known Blanche, based on the play Mazepa by Juliusz Słowacki, the full-length animation Mr. and Mrs. Kabal's Theatre, his full-length feature debut and anti-totalitarian film Goto - Island of Love (banned from screens in communist Poland), the showcase carries on with the well-known adaptation of Stefan Żeromski's Story of a Sin and his two most important erotic artistic films, Immoral Tales and Beast.
Still from Walerian Borowczyk's "Astraonauciu", photo: T-Mobile New Horizons
The Concert of Mr. and Mrs. Kabal, Grandmother's Encyclopaedia in 13 Volumes, Renaissance, The Game of the Angels, Joachim's Dictionary, Rosalie, Diptych - the festival features remastered copies of shorts that had been absent from festivals for several decades. They were missing because of Borowczyk's attachment to the conditions in which his works are presented. The partly damaged copies didn't fulfill these requirements and were kept from distribution. The remastered copies have been approved by the artist's widow, Ligia Borowczyk, allowing the Worcław public to discover Borowczyk less-known output.
Another spotlight of the festival will be the screening of the original version of Immoral Tales, composed of five (not four, as previously shown) stories. The projection is followed by a talk by Alexander Beneke and Carsten Baiersdorfer, who are responsible for the recontruction of the five eposides.
The Borowczyk retrospective is accompanied by a meeting with the co-workers of the artist who shed new light on his creative output, the publication of Jakub Mikurda and Jakub Wojnarowski's Corpus delicti, and an exhibition of posters for Borowczyk's films at the Wrocław Gallery of Polish Posters.
Floating Skyscrapers in the Main Competition
Tomasz Wasilewski's drama about unwanted, unexpected love between two men is the only Polish film featured in the New Horizons main competition.
Still from Tomasz Wasilewski's "Floating Skyscrapers" photo: Anna Tomczyńska
The film’s protagonist, Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk), is a young man, a promising athlete who lives with his mother (Katarzyna Herman) and his girlfriend Sylwia (Marta Nieradkiewicz). From the outside he seems settled, happy and focused. At a university party he meets Michał (Bartosz Gelner). The connection between the two young men is instantaneous and intoxicating, and despite opposition from all sides, Kuba allows Michał into his life. The results go beyond anything he could have imagined. Mortified by the discovery of having feelings for another man, he can not come to terms with the new situation.
Floating Skyscrapers premiered in April 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and won the East of the West section at Karlovy Vary.
Poles in the Panorama
The section Panorama features two Polish films: Leszek Wosiewicz's There Was Once a Child [editor's translation] and Małgośka Szumowska's In the Name of...
There Was Once a Child, known for being Poland's first feature about the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, is the story of an encounter between a young insurgent (Rafał Fudalej) and a German female soldier (Magdalena Cielecka). Their accident meeting amongst the ruins of Warsaw forces them to rethink their values of loyalty, nationality and fidelity.
The second Polish film is Małgośka Szumowska's "very up-to-date commentary about the present situation in the Church", as described by the director of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, Dieter Kosslick, where In the Name Of... had its world premiere. The film revolves around a priest who initiates a small, creative meeting group for difficult youth in his parish. The good rector is very much liked by his people, from whom he is nonetheless hiding his complicated past. In an interview, Szumowska explained that she portrayed her protagonist as a man struggling with loneliness. According to the director, the themes of the film are faith, doubt and the longing for feelings.
The screenplay was written by Szumowska in cooperation with Michał Englert, the cinematographer for In the Name of... The lead is played by Andrzej Chyra and the accompanying cast includes Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Maja Ostaszewska, Łukasz Simlat, Tomasz Schuchardt, Maria Maj, Olgierd Łukasiewicz and amateur actors.
It's one of the popular films of 2013 and is being featured in international festivals, where it has received the Best Feature Film Award at the 27th Mix Milano Film Festival, a festival dedicated to LGBT cinema, and most notably the Teddy Award for best film on LGBT topics at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival
A travelling documentary
Feature and animation films aside, New Horizons also presents Poland's intriguing documentaries and shorts.
The Documentaries / essays section showcases Piotr Stasik A Diary of a Journey, which brings together two very odd protagonists: a 15-year-old apprentice and his 82-year-old teacher, Tadeusz Rolke. Known for his photographs of wartime Warsaw and inspired images of cultural life in postwar Poland and Germany, Rolke's photographic archive constitutes 60 years of Polish and European history. Rolke is among Poland's most accomplished photographers.
A film about the magic of photography, the power of curiosity and the need to create as means of communicating with the world, it constitutes a rite of initiation for the boy and, for Rolke, a chance to reflect on his life.
The second Polish documentary in the section is Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosołowski's Art of Disappearing. Produced by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, it shows the unknown story of a Haitian voodoo priest who performs a voodoo ceremony on the day of the imposition of martial law in 1981 to help free General Jaruzelski, the Polish communist leader, from evil spirits.
Invited by Jerzy Grotowski, the great late 20th-century theatre reformer, Amon Frémon, a Haitian voodoo priest of Polish descent, finds himself in a strange place. People queue for hours appearing to want to be together but avoiding to speak to one another. They perform curious rituals in big stadiums. The cityscape is dominated by the colour grey, grey people, grey clothes, grey buildings. "The rain seemed to be louder here, like in a country of deaf people, and the winter fell from the sky in streaks of white water that couldn't quench thirst." Amon searches for the truth about the soul of a nation that has been subdued by foreign domination for centuries.
Shorts and Poles
The 13th edition of the festival has a special contest for Polish Shorts. Among the most interesting short documentaries, animations and features are Elżbieta Benkowska's Olena, Martin Rath's Arena, Julia Kolberger's Mazurek, Jacek Piotr Bławut's Samotność dźwięku, Tomasz Popakula's Ziegenort and Bodo Kox's Soapopera.
Within the framework of the festival, a restored copy of Ryszard Ordyński's Pan Tadeusz from 1928 will be shown on the Wrocław market sqaure. The biggest Polish film production of the inter-war years, the screening is accompanied by a concert of the film's score.
The T-Mobile New Horizons film festival has been held anually in Wrocław since 2001. Part of the 13th edition will are a review of new Russian cinema, Cinema Du Look and Swiss musical documentaries. The festival also revolves around music and contemporary art and includes live music concerts, art installations and performances throughout the city.
For more information on the festival see: T-Mobile New Horizons
Editor: translated and edited by MJ 11.07.2013
Sources: Polish article by Bartosz Stzszczyszyn for culture.pl, culture.pl