The return of old masters and the rise to glory of new names with big-budget hits. One thing is undoubtable - this year Polish cinema is especially bountiful - from the mind-wrenching picture of alcoholism by Smarzowski, through Pasikowski's historic thriller on espionage, to a bitter-sweet comedy about family and the communist past from Krzyształowicz
Angel – directed by Wojtek Smarzowski
A hard blow opens this year with the late January premiere of Smarzowski's The Mighty Angel. Adapting a work of prose from Jerzy Pilch, the director discards both the melancholy and the wit of the original book. And as despondency drowns in delirium, and the longing for great love disperses like a drunk's hallucination, Smarzowski leaves us with no illusions. A constellation of true stars of Polish cinema were cast in the film - Kinga Preis, Marian Dziędziel, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Robert Wabich and Marcin Dorociński, with the brilliant Robert Więckiewicz in the main role.
Read our review of Smarzowski's Angel…
Jack Strong, directed by Władysław Pasikowski
Pasikowski, whose most recent picture Aftermath (Pokłosie) seemed too controversial for some right-wing milieux, now has a chance to become a favourite of local Polish patriots. The director has taken on the story of Col. Kukliński. A historic figure with an incredibly complex life, in an attempt to save his home country, the colonel renounced the splendor of the communist military to become a CIA agent in 1972. Kukliński, aka Jack Strong, emigrated to the United States right before the imposition of Martial Law in 1981. Kukliński was sentenced to death, in absentia, by a military court in Warsaw in 1984. After the fall of communism, the sentence was reduced to 25 years. In 1995, the court cancelled the sentence and said that Kuklinski was acting under special circumstances that warranted a higher need.
By portraying his story, Pasikowski addresses the various forms of patriotism, and the price that must sometimes be paid for an act of heroism. Jack Strong will be the first pure espionage thriller in the history of Polish cinema. It will also be the first cold-war thriller, albeit one that comes a few decades late.
The Polish premiere of Jack Strong is scheduled for the 7th of February.
Hiszpanka, directed by Łukasz Barczyk
Storyboard for Hiszpanka, image courtesy of Studio Filmowe KADR.
The young Polish director makes a return to the silver screen this year with his Hiszpanka (The Spanish Woman). In this grand costume film, Barczyk takes on a more distant Polish history, going back to the latter years of World War I. Hiszpanka tells the story of a group of psychics and fortune tellers that try to save the the pianist and Polish Prime Minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski from the attack of Prussian medium Doctor Abuse…
Pani z przedszkola / The Kindergarten Teacher, directed by Marcin Krzyształowicz
Agata Kulesza and Adam Woronowicz in "Pani z przedszkola" photo: Jacek Drygała
Marcin Krzyształowicz rose to fame two years ago with his award-winning Manhunt. The WWII drama about betrayal and retribution is considered the best film of the last decade. With Pani z przedszkola, the director changes genres, and screens a comic tale of the family as source of all suffering and endless trauma. Krzyształowicz has the audience move back to the communist People's Republic of Poland, as he follows a 40 year old man's healing travels in time. The main protagonist revisits his childhood with his therapist in this bitter-sweet film. Pani z przedszkola, (The Kindergarten Teacher) casts Agata Kulesza and Łukasz Simlat, Adam Woronowicz and Karolina Gruszka, Krystyna Janda and Marian Dziędziel. It is shot by Michał Englert.
The premiere screenings of Pani z przedszkola are scheduled for autumn 2014.
Obywatel / Citizen, directed by Jerzy Stuhr
Jerzy and Maciej Stuhr, photo: Justyna Drażek / East News
More echoes of history are also to be portrayed with a tongue-in-cheek attitude by the actor and director Jerzy Stuhr. Stuhr, one of Poland's most famous stage artists, has created a film about the previous 60 years of Polish history, filtered through the experiences of his own generation. In what he has called the Polish response to Forrest Gump, the director casts his own son, Maciej Stuhr, in the titular role. Stuhr senior comments:
I don't think there are other people in Europe who have had a life as interesting as ours: to start out as children under the bust of Stalin, at the height of the regime, and to finish in a free country, going through Solidarity, Martial Law, the papal election and liberation on the way. It's an incredible life.
We will be able to decide whether or not Obywatel really is the Polish Forrest Gump on the 7th of November, 2014.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser, 17.01.2014
sources: Polityka magazine, press release, own materials, materiały prasowe, inf. własne. Bartosz Staszczyszyn, 14.01.2014