The Behind the Curtain Eastern European Film Festival will be held for the fifth time in Birmingham. Organised by the Polish Expats Association and Centrala Gallery, the event runs from 16th to 31st October 2015.
Banner for Behind the Curtain Eastern European Film Festival 2015. Photo: behindth
For the last five years, Behind the Curtain has brought high quality films and new media from Central and Eastern Europe to Birmingham. The festival contributes to the vibrant and coherent Arts and Culture Festivals sector by bringing only the best Central and Eastern European cinema through working with local artists. The festival's programme presents films from Eastern and Central Europe, including Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary. Apart from film screenings, there will be accompanying exhibitions and parties.
The name ‘Behind the curtain’ comes from the phrase ‘iron curtain’ famously coined by Winston Churchill on 5th March 1946 when he defined the geopolitical situation in Europe: ‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent’.
The festival will kick off with a party and an exhibition. The official opening of the video art exhibition presenting works by visual artist, composer and inventor Julian Antonisz will take place on 16th October and will be followed by a party featuring the Polish VJ Pietrushka. This UK-based video artist reflects a pure and authentic pursuit of visual experimentation through his works. Use of various video techniques such as found footage and collage films has helped him to create an original mood & atmosphere around his live sets.
During the festival itself, three Polish films all from different years will be screened: Gods by Łukasz Palkowski; Kebab and Horoscope by Grzegorz Jaroszuk; and Good bye, Till Tomorrow by Janusz Morgenstern.
This on-screen biography of Zbigniew Religa offers a gripping rhythm and a seductive sense of humour. It’s a portrait of a rockstar of Polish medicine, a rebel who denied all authority and forced his way through. Religa, as portrayed in Gods, is nothing like the noble professor and minister that he came across as to the Polish public. Gods is one of the most American-like Polish movies of the past few years: a story of a self-made man who, despite the harsh communist reality, realised a professional dream that far surpassed the dominating mindset. Nevertheless, Gods is not just a story about great success, but also about picking oneself up after a fall.
Łukasz Palkowski dexterously combines both biography and medical drama, and comedy with melodrama. Gods escapes straightforward genre divisions, balancing between different shades of emotions.
Kebab and Horoscope
Grzegorz Jaroszuk directed what has been called the most "Czech" Polish film of recent years. Kebab and Horoscope, his full-length debut shows promise and artistic courage. The film is a comedy of the absurd and grotesque. No cheap laughs and stupid gags here though – the humour comes from understatement and distance from the story.
The plot is about two losers whose life is about to be turned upside down. They decide to make money by pretending to be marketing consultants. Dressed up and talking the talk, they are charged with saving an unpopular carpet store from bankruptcy.
Jaroszuk looks at the situation from the perspective of the protagonists. He shows a good-natured shop owner repressed by his rich wife, an old employee who wants to be useful, a football fan and his admirer – an intern. All of them are funny, nerdy and a bit strange. Jaroszuk proves that they all need each other.
Good Bye, Till Tomorrow
Janusz Morgenstern’s 1960 debut stars one of Poland’s most characteristic and renowned actors: Zbigniew Cybulski. The film is considered one of the most important masterpieces of Polish cinematography. It tells a story about a handsome, charming young Pole who belongs to a drama company and meets a beautiful, charming French girl called Marguerite.
PEA – the Polish Expats Assocciation is a non-profit organisation established in 2009 to support the adaptation and integration of Poles in the UK. Their aim is to improve the lives of Eastern and Central European migrants. They also promote art, culture and mutual understanding through organising cultural events, promoting acclaimed and emerging artists and building partnerships between communities and institutions.
Behind the Curtain – Eastern European Film Festival
16th to 31st October 2015
158 Fazeley Street
Sources: Culture.pl, http://behindthecurtain.eu/, compiled by ND, 14 Oct 2015