With his intense poetic style, Jerzy Skolimowksi has been one of the most distinctive voices in international cinema since he emerged as a leading figure in the 1960s Polish New Wave. A painter, poet, and writer, Skolimowski made films throughout Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, and then abandoned cinema in the 1990s. He made an impressive return to filmmaking in recent years with Four Nights with Anna and his boldly enigmatic film Essential Killing, starring Vincent Gallo.
From June 10 through July 3, 2011, Museum of the Moving Image will present a major retrospective devoted to the film director, which will be the first stop in a national tour of the films that also includes the Harvard Film Archive. The series, The Cinema of Jerzy Skolimowski, will include eleven feature films as well as a selection of short films made while he was a student at the prestigious Lodz Film School. The retrospective opens with a personal appearance by Skolimowski on June 10th with a screening of Essential Killing.
Many of the films in the retrospective are not in distribution in the United States and not available on DVD. Among the highlights are several semi-autobiographical films, including the rarely shown cult favorite Deep End, starring Jane Asher and John Moulder-Brown set in a London bath house; the Polish films Identification Marks: None (Rysopis), Walkover, and Hands Up!-known together as the Andrzej Leszczyc trilogy-and all featuring Skolimowski as actor as well as director; his "French" film, Le départ, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud; and Moonlighting, a humorous yet scathing tale of Polish laborers renovating a London flat starring Jeremy Irons. The series also features more recent films made in Poland: Four Nights with Anna and Essential Killing, the controversial thriller starring Vincent Gallo as an escaped Taliban fighter-a role which won him a best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.
"Jerzy Skolimowski's films are mesmerizing cinematic experiences that often have multiple meanings, and range freely from the poetic to the political," said Chief Curator David Schwartz, who organized the series. "We are thrilled that Skolimowski will be with us to open the retrospective with his audacious new feature, Essential Killing."
Jerzy Skolimowki (b. 1938) made a series of highly original and exciting films that captured the contradictions and energy of postwar Poland. At the Lodz Film School he had Andrzej Wajda as his teacher and Roman Polanski as a fellow student (the two collaborated on the script for A Knife in the Water). In 1967, a battle with censorship over the film Hands Up! caused him to flee Poland. After living and working around the world (including in Los Angeles where he acted in several American films), Skolimowski's self-imposed exile ended in the early 1990s; among the films he produced in Poland was the critically acclaimed Four Nights with Anna (2008).
The Cinema of Jerzy Skolimowski is presented with support from the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, and additional support from the Polish National Film Archive in Poland. The series is presented in collaboration with the Harvard Film Archive. Special thanks: Natalia Babinski (Polish Cultural Institute New York), Haden Guest (Harvard Film Archive)
SCHEDULE FOR ‘THE CINEMA OF JERZY SKOLIMOWSKI,' JUNE 10-JULY 3, 2011
All screenings take place at Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, NY) and are included with Museum admission unless otherwise noted.
All films are directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and presented in 35 mm print.
Friday, June 10, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 11, 7:30 p.m.
With Jerzy Skolimowski in person at the June 10 screening
2010, 83 mins. With Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner. Skolimowski's new film follows a Taliban terrorist who is captured, tortured, and then escapes into the frozen Polish wilderness. Vincent Gallo's mute performance as the man on the run won him the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival. Essential Killing is a deliberately ambiguous film that will leave you puzzling over its political and existential meanings.
Tickets for June 10 are $15 public / $10 Museum members, free for Silver Screen level and above. Order advance tickets online at http://movingimage.us or by calling 718 777 6800.
Identification Marks: None (Rysopis)
Saturday, June 11, 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 12, 6:30 p.m.
1965, 73 mins. With Jerzy Skolimowski, Elzbieta Czyzewska. Skolimowski completed his first feature film, and the first in the Andrzej Leszczyc trilogy, at the Lodz Film School. Rysopis follows Andrzej during his last hours before military service. Through scenes of chance encounters, spying, interrogation, and overheard conversations, Skolimowski creates an atmosphere of distrust in his portrayal of Poland's postwar generation.