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Polish School of Animation: Screenings Worldwide (update)

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As we all know by now, there’s going to be an exhibition at Barbican presenting films widely known as Polish School of Animation. That’s the 14th July 2011. HOWEVER, if you’re not living in London, you may still have a chance to see them…

Enough to say now that the screenings will take place in Beijing (China), Kiev (Ukraine), Berlin (Germany), and Tokyo (Japan). Now, let me just copy/paste an extract from an official announcement of the organisers and then follow the respective link to find out more (list of films included, dates, places and… more links ūüôā ).

The project “Polish School of Animation, its Observers and Continuators” aspires to give international recognition to the more-than-fifty-years-old output of Polish animation. “Polish School of Animation” – the validity of term application remains pending up to this day – came into being in the second half of the fifties as one of the most interesting artistic phenomena of Polish post-war culture, connected strongly – not only by personal ties – with the famous “Polish School of Poster”. We cannot disregard the fact that its emergence is included in the movement of “national schools” birth in animation, particularly intense in our part of Europe in late fifties and early sixties.
The movement was initiated and led by Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk, cooperating at that time. Their jointly made films, like “ByŇā sobie raz” (“Once Upon a Time”) (1957), “Nagrodzone uczucia” (“Love Requited”) (1957), “Dom” (“The House”) (1958), “Sztandar MŇāodych” (The Colours of Young”) (1958) contributed to the breakthrough in Polish animated film which became – as in other countries – treated as a message aimed at adult audience, taking up the most complicated subjects and issues, on high level of artistic communication. (Read more)


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Hairdresser by Robert Sowa (1996) and Why Hair Stylists Are Important in a Woman’s Life

June 30, 2011 1 comment

Generally speaking, I hate going to a hair stylist / hair dresser or just anyone who is supposed to do anything with my hair. I would say: they just DON’T understand my nor my hair’s needs! And that’s the main reason for me crying nights after another such experiment in hope that maybe this time everything is gonna be different. Actually, I did have a great hair stylist. Finding him was just a shot and it was a damn good shot, may I say. One day he just took off in an unknown direction and, as you can imagine, I was devastated (in the way only a woman can be!).

HOWEVER, let me share with you my joy as HE’S BACK and I have finally found a peace of mind ūüôā Yeay! ūüôā

But let us talk animation now – I can imagine you wondering: what the hell your feminine story has to do with animation?? Well, I will say, assuming you are an intelligent reader (of course, you are!), you can find links everywhere. So, today a Polish animator has crossed my mind. Not only for the hair subject in one of his works but for a few other reasons too. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s put our hands together for Robert Sowa!

He’s actually one of those Polish artists that you cannot really find much info about when you look online. His film from 1996, Hairdresser (Fryzjer) within 5 minutes shows the lonely main character who escapes into a fantasy world while we, the viewers, watch him and his actions from outside. It’s a stop-motion, plasticine animation and it got the main award at Polish OFAFA festival in 1997.

The hairdresser created by Robert is not the kind you’d like to meet and have a hair cut from, me thinks. In his films Robert explores the feelings and loneliness of his characters and the Hairdresser fits in perfectly. I am not sure if such an emotional outsider can create a good hair-do to satisfy his client’s needs. I suppose he would rather look for satisfying his own needs and desires in the first place – that’s how we, humans, are constructed and that’s what goes to the centre of our own attention when you keep repeating me, me, me… all day long. And, finally, that’s why we need to fulfill the sociable element of our nature, don’t we? Isn’t that what our mental health is all about?

This particular production can be found, however, on DVD’s included in Polish Cinema Now! package (reviewed here in May) and to be bought e.g. from Amazon. You can also have a look here for more detailed info on the book.

Robert Sowa graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland where he currently works in Jerzy Kucia‘s studio. His film Hairdresser is said to be a part of a permanent exhibition at National Museum in Cracow (source: 24 Frames per Second. Talks on Animation by Mariusz Frukacz, 2009). His other films got awards and mentions at festivals in Poland and abroad.

Polish Cinema Now! Focus on Contemporary Polish Cinema

May 17, 2011 1 comment

I think it’s a very important book on English market, especially when you realise there’s so little on the subject. The funny thing is that when Poland was behind the iron curtain (up to 1989) and when state censorship tried to manipulate almost every aspect of people’s lives, including films, many of the productions were actually known worldwide. Everybody knew (and still does) names like Kieslowski or Wajda probably as much as the Polish School of Animation (the term used in the 60s of the last century). All that was good and valuable, inspirational and put high on¬†intellectual¬†heights. And I think it still plays an important role in Polish culture in general, even though it’s just¬†(as some might say) a part of the past.¬†

However, and I do mean it, I may feel slightly fed up with that constant re-discovering Poland, its culture and artefacts in the context of Soviet domination as if there was nothing more on offer (which is, by the way, completely untrue). And that’s exactly why Polish Cinema Now! is so important – it creates a bridge between the past and the present. It identifies links between history and the present day while pointing out influences, sources but also opposites and changes that occurred as a¬†consequence of replacing the socialist regime with the democratic one. And, above all, it shows that life goes on and, on a daily basis, the past does not have to be in the centre of attention.

Polish Cinema Now! is edited by Mateusz Werner, a Polish film critic and writer and contains of several¬†essays from both Polish and English authors. Only one chapter is dedicated to animation but that’s, to be honest, perfectly fine. It’s informative (gives a number of names, titles and studios), yet well written and keeps you focused long enough to get you to the end in one go.

The book is also accompanied by 2 DVDs which are a selection of short films, among them – several animations: Franz Kafka (1991) by Piotr Dumala; DIM. (1992) by Marek Skrobecki; Hairdresser (Fryzjer, 1996) by Robert Sowa;¬†Tuning the Instruments (Strojenie instrumentow, 2000) by Jerzy Kucia; and The Cathedral (Katedra, 2002) by Tomasz Baginski. The last one was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 2002. And even though it’s not really one of my favourites, this one I show you today:




***An interesting and quite informative review was published online in February this year: Polish Cinema Now! review. Enjoy!

Polish School of Animation at Barbican (14th July 2011)

May 10, 2011 4 comments

I have just learnt that Barbican in London, UK scheduled a nice screening in¬†collaboration¬†with¬†Etiuda&Anima Festival¬†and the¬†London International Animation Festival. As it is announced on the Barbican website, it is going to be¬†world premi√®re retrospective of four film programmes that chart the history of Polish animation from the 1950s to the present day including seminal works by¬†Jan Lenica,¬†Walerian Borowcyzk,¬†J√≥zef Robakowski,¬†Jerzy Kucia¬†and¬†Zbigniew RybczyŇĄski.¬†

Tickets go on sale to the general public from 10th May 2011. Don’t miss it! For details visit Barbican web site.

Jerzy Kucia – Krag (The Ring, 1978). Enjoy this and the screenings in Barbican!

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