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Robert Bodrog

The latest film industry and film festival news across Europe.


Kinoteka Polish Film Festival Opens in London

Fans of Polish cinema are in for a fortnight of fun, as the 10th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival opens on March 8th and runs through the 22nd at various venues in London, with some additional screenings taking place in Edinburgh and Belfast. The festival will showcase a wide variety of work by contemporary filmmakers in its New Polish Cinema programme, including features, animation and documentaries, as well as a selection of classics.

The opening night gala will present Malgorzata Szumowska's film "Elles”, starring Juliette Binoche as Anne, a journalist working on a magazine article about student prostitution who befriends two young women, one French, one Polish, who have entered the sex trade for different reasons. As they discuss their lives and encounters, it gives Anne insight not only into the reality of the young women's lives, but also causes her to ruminate on her career and her role as a wife and mother. In Poland, the film was released under the title “Sponsoring”.

Scheduled for a gala screening on March 11 is Agnieszka Holland's latest film “In Darkness”, which was nominated for best foreign language film at this year's Academy Awards. Based on the book "In the Sewers of Lvov" by Robert Marshall, it tells the tale of Leopold Socha, a thief who agrees to hide a group of Jews in the city's sewers during the Nazi occupation, which ultimately forces him to confront his own attitudes and personal prejudices. The film stars Robert Wieckiewicz, who will be in attendance with the director for a question and answer session with the audience following the screening at the Barbican Centre.

One of the highlights of this year's festival will surely be the 10 Years, 10 Directors, 10 Films programme, for which a group of 10 internationally acclaimed British and Polish directors were asked to choose their favorite Polish film, either fiction or documentary, which would be shown at the festival-- no small task indeed.

Notable among the selections, Mike Leigh's film of choice was “A Short Film About Killing” (1988) by Krzysztof Kieslowski; Nicolas Roeg chose Roman Polanski's “Knife in the Water” (1962); and Ken Loach chose “Ashes and Diamonds” (1958) by Andrzej Wajda.

Among the Polish directors, Andrzej Wajda himself chose “Article Zero” (1957) by Włodzimierz Borowik,  a landmark short documentary about prostitution in communist-era Poland. Jerzy Skolimowski chose “Olympics” (1978), by Bogdan Dziworski, another short documentary, about a children's skiing competition in the Polish resort town of Zakopane.

Fans of Krzysztof Kieslowski and film poster design have a special reason to celebrate, as this year's festival also features an exhibition of posters for the director's 10-part “Decalogue” series of films, which are currently on display at the Barbican Centre and London's Riverside Studios.

Originally commissioned for broadcast on television, “Decalogue” comprises 10 films, with the theme of each being based on one of the Ten Commandments. Among the most acclaimed in the series, “A Short Film About Killing” went on to win a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988. Posters issued to promote the films in various European countries, as well as in Japan and Argentina, are included in the exhibit.

The closing night gala at the Barbican Centre will present legendary composer of avant-garde classical music Krzysztof Penderecki performing with Jonny Greenwood, guitarist for the band Radiohead, to celebrate the strong influence Penderecki’s music has had on Greenwood’s compositional career. Penderecki's distinctive compositions have been featured in many films, including Stanley Kubrick's “The Shining”. He also composed original scores for Andrzej Wadja's “Katyń” and Martin Scorsese's “Shutter Island”.

So, with so much on offer at this year's festival, whether you're a newbie or a long-time fan of Polish films, it's a rare opportunity to see some classics and some of the best work to come out of Poland in recent years.

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