On Wednesday 8 April at 6pm, the BFI will host a screening of Krzysztof Zanussi’s dialectic satire Camouflage (1977) – followed by a Q&A with the great filmmaker – to launch this year’s Kinoteka Film Festival in London. For the event’s thirteenth year, it is expanding its horizons and offering a bumper selection of Polish cinema which will run from 8 April – 29 May and will not only be available to those who dwell in the capital, but also the rest of the UK via a tour in concert with the BFI. The festival has always been keen to introduce unwitting British audiences to the incredible masterpieces in Polish cinema history alongside contemporary fare, and this year the classics take pride of place with much-beloved offerings from the likes of Andrzej Wajda, Kieślowski, Munk, Has and many more.
The Constant Factor (1980) and the kaleidoscopic Illumination (1973) join the opener to form a trio of Zanussi pictures as the first three selections in the Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema season. It makes up the majority of the festival, featuring 24 films that will screen at the BFI in April and May before heading around the UK (including stops in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Sheffield and Nottingham). Some of the other highlights include Andrzej Munk’s fêted WWII black comedy, Eroica (1958); Krzysztof Kieślowski’s grim and provocative A Short Film About Killing (1988); Wojciech Has’ hallucinatory duo The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) and The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973); and several Andrzej Wajda films including his stunning The Promised Land (1975).
Also part of the program are a number of other strands. The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London will play host to a weekend of modern Polish cinema – including Zanussi’s latest, disappointing, offering Foreign Body (2014) and Wojciech Smarzowski’s The Mighty Angel (2014) – as well as wealth of documentary screenings. These will include two 2015 Oscar-nominated shorts, alongside retrospectives of the non-fiction work of Wojciech Wiszniewski and the Academy Award-winning Paweł Pawlikowski. Elsewhere the Tate Modern will screen art film The Performer and the BFI will host a collection of Wajda film posters in its atrium. A selection of talks and workshops will run concurrently with the programmed screenings and the festival will be brought to a close by a special screening of cult classic The Cruise (1970) followed by an immersive theatre experience about a trip down the Thames.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson