Sex, surrealism and cinema. The works of veteran Polish film maker Walerian Borowczyk are to get a retrospective at Kinoteka, the 12th Polish Film Festival, that starts today. Lasting for a month, the festival will feature a wealth of Polish film and related events.

Papusza

Kinoteka opens with a gala event at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith tonight. This will feature a screening of Papusza, about the Polish-Gypsy poet Bronislawa Wajs (aka Papusza, 1908-1987) and her relationship with the man who discovered her Jerzy Ficowski. The film’s director Joanna Kos-Krauze and star Jowita Budnik will take part in a Q&A after the screening.

Poland has long been a centre of cinematic innovation that continues up to the present day. Some of the latest offerings from the country will be shown, as a part of the New Polish Cinema strand of the festival. Highlights include Wojciech Smarzowski’s Traffic Department, an action packed thriller set in the Warsaw police department, which was the biggest grossing film of last year. Ticket to the Moon, directed by Jacek Bromski, is a nostalgic road movie set in 1969 where a worldly-wise older brother Antoni (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), is determined to show his teenaged younger brother Adam Sikora (Filip Plawiak) a good time, before he has to join the army.

Documentary film is represented by Marcel Lozinski and Maciej Drygas who are both presenting their latest films. Poland’s rich tradition of animation is dealt with in a fascinating strand called Sex in the Polish Socialist Republic, a collection of shorts from the communist era. Some of the talent includes Julian Józef Antoniusz, Andrzej Czeczot, Piotr Dumała and Alexander Sroczyński.

Taking this topic to its most bizarre limit was Walerian Borowczyk (1923 – 2006) a painter and sculptor as well as film maker. Borowczyk moved to France in the early 60s, where he felt he could make his work outside the confines of state control. His work encompassed animation as well as live-action films, and influenced Terry Gilliam, Jan Svankmeyer and the Brothers Quay. Often dealing with the themes of sex and death, he gained a reputation as a “genius who also happened to be a pornographer”. The Borowczyk retrospective is accompanied by Arrow Films releasing restorations of his work on DVD and Blu Ray.

Other events include an exhibition of Polish Film Posters by Henryk Tomaszewski, a BAFTA screentalk by Oscar-winning production designer and set decorator Allan Starski, lab-based workshops for producers, and a closing night gala concert at the Union Chapel which will feature music from the Arditti Quartet, playing a soundtrack for two Quay Brothers films.

The 12th Kinoteka runs from 24th April to 20th May, 2014. For more information check kinoteka.org.uk

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