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Storm Warnings - Polish Cinema

The Film Society of Lincoln Center presents Storm Warnings: Resistance and Reflection in Polish Cinema from February 3-11, 2010 at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York City. The series deals with a specific period of time in Poland, 1977-1989, when the unflinching visions of these filmmakers actually stood to affect social change. Filled with drama and impeccable technique, this is one important series that lovers of cinema will not want to miss.   

Polish filmmakers working from the late 1970s to the fall of Communism managed to produce extraordinarily rich and powerful films despite the enormous challenges and censorship they faced from the totalitarian regime. Some were influenced by the socially conscious films of the Neorealist movement and others by their commitment to Poland's burgeoning Solidarity movement. Well-known, like Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Andrzej Wajda or less so, like Marcel Lozinski and Kazimierz Kutz, they all produced unflinching and profoundly moving visions of the regime's economic, political and spiritual failures.

Major works include:

Andrzej Wajda's Without Anesthesia a.k.a. Rough Treatment / Bez znieczulenia (1978) was praised as the first daringly critical portrait of modern-day Poland. The Oscar®-winning director’s drama focuses on a journalist whose post and privileges are taken away after he raises the issue of press freedom during an appearance on a television talk show.

Krzysztof Zanussi's Camouflage / Barwy ochronne (1977) is a philosophical thriller set on a university campus that becomes a metaphor for the Polish state. When impressionable 26-year-old academic Jaroslaw falls under the sway of veteran professor Jakub, he finds his youthful notions of morality and justice challenged by the older man’s world-weary cynicism. The director will appear at the Saturday screening.

Stanislaw Bareja’s Teddy Bear / Miś is a surreal comedy about the absurd plight of sports club manager Rysiek, a.k.a., “Teddy Bear,” whose efforts to accompany his team to a foreign tournament are thwarted when he discovers his ex-wife has torn pages out of his passport. A cult hit in Poland, where it spawned two sequels, Teddy Bear ranks among the most fearless satires of the decaying Communist state.

Also included are works that were banned outright and often remained unseen until years later:

Ryszard Bugajski's Interrogation / Przesłuchanie (1982/1989) is a harrowing, fact-based prison drama starring Krystyna Janda (Man of Marble, Mephisto) as Tonia, a cabaret singer in 1950s Warsaw who wakes up in jail after a night of drunken revelry to find herself accused of crimes against the state, and thus submitted to torture, humiliation and betrayal (director Agniezska Holland plays a cellmate). The film was banned upon its completion in 1982, viewed secretly on bootleg video copies, and finally premiered at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, where Janda won the Best Actress prize for her performance.

Agnieszka Holland's remarkable A Woman Alone / Kobieta samotna (1981/1987) tells of a single mother living on the outskirts of Wroclaw struggling to support herself and her young son by working as a letter carrier, while also caring for an elderly aunt. She tries to convince local Party officials to improve her housing conditions, but she is unsuccessful. This film was also banned despite its award-winning premiere at Poland’s own Gdynia Film Festival.

Marcel Lozinski's How Do We Live / Jak żyć (1977/1981) is a 'mockumentary' about a socialist training camp for young marrieds.

Presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, in association with the Polish National Film Archive and Polish Television, as part of Performing Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe, a festival coordinated by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, November 2009 – March 2010.

For further information, visit

Storm Warnings: Resistance and Reflection in Polish Cinema
Feb 3-11, 2010

Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.
New York Cit

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