The 7th Annual Film Festival, Era New Horizons, starts on July 19 in Wroclaw. The 10-day festival will show 440 films from around the world including this year?s Cannes Golden Palm Award Winner — Cristiana Mungiu?s ?4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.? This is Poland?s biggest and certainly the most interesting summer film festival.
Marianne Faithfull, ?the diva of British rock,? is opening the festival with a one-time concert in Poland.
?I intend on presenting unconventional films, an independent cinema that evokes emotions and lively discussions,? said Roman Gutek, the festival organizer and originator. Eighteen ?daring and original? film premiers selected from among hundreds of titles shown at international festivals and film fairs will be presented in the competition. An audience will choose the laureate of the Grand Prix. Every year there are several categories of films.
The Australian cinema season may be the most interesting. This exotic cinematography is still unknown to many people. Australian days of the festival offer Australian new wave films, including the greatest achievements of Australian cinema from the 1970s (films of Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, Gillian Armstrong), films produced in the last 7 years chosen by David Stratton, a world known Australian critic who wrote for ?Variety? magazine, and Australian cultural events.
Films of masters Manoel de Oliveira, Otar Joseliani and Mohsen Makhmalbaf and ?find? films of Alexander Voulgaris, Kirill Serebrennikova and Reh Erdema will be presented in the ?Panorama of Contemporary Cinema? category. Documentaries, short-length films, Polish cinema and etudes, features about dance and other genres will also be presented.
?Midnight Madness? is a popular yearly film event for fans of movies made with a ?wink of an eye.? This is the most interesting proposal of the Asian popular culture.
One special retrospective artist of the festival is Hal Hartley. Known as the ?Long Island Godard,? he is one of the most important directors of American independent cinema.
Besides his films ?Henry Fool? or ?Amateur,? the festival will also present his short-length features. Other retrospective films will be shown of famous Italian master ? Federico Fellini (director of ?The Sweet Life,? ?La Strada? and ?8 and 1?).
Polish cinema celebrates ?50 Years of Polish Film? this year. This famous film movement is known worldwide owing to Andrzej Wajda films such as ?Ashes and Diamonds.? The festival review will present movies of Wajda, Andrzej Munk, Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Kazimierz Kutz, originators of the movement.
Events include meetings with the filmmakers, press conferences, and lectures held by renowned film critic and lecturer at the Jagiellonian University, Professor Tadeusz Lubelski. Another anniversary possibility is showing of Zbigniew Cybulski films, famous Polish actor often called the Polish James Dean and known to be one of Andrzej Wajda?s favorite actors.
A commemoration of the actor?s 80th birthday and 40th anniversary of death will be organized on Wroclaw where he tragically died in January 8, 1967. The selection will include the 10 most interesting films from the actor?s rich portfolio of work.
?There will be more intelligible films for the less demanding spectator,? Gutek admits. ?This is not only a festival of difficult artists films. We want to present different genres.? The free screenings at the Rynek Glowny are a new feature of this year?s festival. ?Owing to the big screen from Germany the quality of a picture will be very high,? Gutek says. All festival cinemas are situated near the center of Wroclaw, one of the most beautiful and historic Polish cities. Ticket sales for all screenings and events closed on June 25.
?The Memory of this Moment from
the Distance of Years? — An exhibit
The Podgórze District has been trying to make its mark not only on the cultural map of Krakow, but also on the map of all of Poland.
To reach this goal, district officials have come up with ambitious exhibitions and an ambitious plan for opening the Center for Contemporary Art.
This time the Jewish Culture Festival is helping the district achieve its objective by putting on exhibitions of contemporary art in the Schindler?s Factory building.
One especially interesting event is the exhibition titled ?The Memory of This Moment From the Distance of Years.?
It features the works of 40 world-class artists. They include Nelyy Agassi, Mirosław Bałka, Christian Boltanski, Stanisława Celińska, Rebecca Bournigault, Robert Kuśmirowski, Lang/Bauman, Gabi Maciejowska, Angelika Markul, Olga Mokrzycka, Ania Orlikowska, Piotr Parda, Joanna Rajkowska, Anne Rothschild, Robert Rumas, Jadwiga Sawicka, Roman Stańczak, Wacek Warchoł, Piotr Wysocki and Artur Żmijewski. One of the exhibition?s attractions is the sheer number of artists. Another is the enormous diversity they represent.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by Cali Gurewicz?s poem in the ?New Hebrew Poetry? collection, according to exhibition curator Sarmen Beglarian.
The exhibition is supposed to present works which do not contain obvious references to historic traumas ? like the Holocaust — but which rather play with viewers? emotions through the use of space.
But the venue itself ? the factory where Oscar Schindler saved Jews ? and the fact that many of the works conjure up the past, do make viewers think about Jewish tragedies of yesteryear.
Exhibiting art in a place embued with gloom makes it difficult for viewers to focus only on the works themselves. It might have been better to have chosen a place where the art could speak for itself.
The Schindler venue, with its dark history, is especially burdensome when you?re trying to tell a story about contemporary times.
Unfortunately, most of the exhibition?s works seem to lose their character and vanish in the factory space. The building itself dominates, leaving the impression that it is the place, not the works, that plays the most important role in the exhibition.
The question is: Do the works of the 40 artists add variety and life to the building? Viewers will have to decide for themselves.
The exhibition reminds us that Schindler?s Factory is a place that is a stark part of the history of the Jews. It is also a symbol of ethical consciousness and as such should be always remembered.
That is why it might not have been such a good idea to place art commenting on history in a place which is such a reminder of the dark side of history.
Organizers of the exhibition
Polish Modern Art Foundation
Jewish Cultural Society in Krakow
Curator: Sarmen Beglarian