33rd İstanbul Film Festival

12 April - 13 April 2014

Polish Experimental Animation Cinema


Abstract film has a long tradition in Poland. This genre is obviously closest to non-representational painting. Examples of such painterly films include Somnam­bulicy / Somnambulists (1958) by Mieczysław Waśkowski,Muka (2003) by Natalia Wilkoszewska, or 1-39-C (2004) by Olga Wroniewicz. But abstraction on the screen can also be achieved through photographic means, using unconventional shots that make real objects look unreal or strange. Demony / Demons (1980) by Kazimierz Urbański and Oko i ucho / The Eye and The Ear(1944-45), a film made in England during World War II by Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, the pioneers of the Polish avant-garde film, exemplify this other kind of abstract film. Kineformy / Kineforms and Tam i tu /Here and There (1957), by Andrzej Pawłowski are filmed projections of lights reflected onto the screen by moving objects inside an apparatus constructed by the filmmaker. Józef Robakowski’s films–Prostokąt dynamiczny / The Dynamic Rectangle and Test I (both 1971)–occupy a place of their own, one close to structural film. That abstract film is not dying out is proved in the works of filmmakers of the younger generation, like Natalia Wilkoszewska, Olga Wroniewicz or Jakub Lech.

The early films of Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk played an exceptionally important role in their time. Był sobie raz… / Once Upon a Time… (1957) is an improvised cut-out film, one of the first of this kind in the history of cinema. Sztandar Młodych’ / The Banner of Youth (1957) is a short commercial for a popular newspaper which is noteworthy for its abstract elements painted directly onto film stock combined with found footage.

A separate group of experimental films consists of works that manipulate photographic images. These films include: Replika / Replica (1975) by Kazimierz Bendkowski and Oj! Nie mogę się zatrzymać! / Oh, I Can’t Stop! (1975) by the Oscar-winning Zbigniew Rybczyński. Zoopraxiscope (2005) by Hieronim Neumann,Pierwszy film / The First Film (1981) by Józef Piwkowski are a reinterpretation of images from the very beginnings of the history of cinema. Kazimierzs Urbański in Słodkie rytmy / Sweet Rhythms (1965) experimented with the effects of heat on the film emulsion. Rybczyński’s Nowa książka / New Book (1975) and Video-Disc (1986) by Maciej Ćwiek divide the screen into a number of smaller ones. In Jerzy Kucia’sOdpryski / Splinters (1984) everyday domestic actions become murky rituals. And Portret / Portrait (1977) by Stanisław Lenartowicz and Martwy cień / Dead Shadow (1980) by Andrzej Klimowski  are deliberations on the passage of time. These works, along with Neumann’s Blok / Block (1982) and Sam sobie sterem / Steering My Own Destiny (1971) by Katarzyna Latałło, break with convention and are thus not easy to categorize.

There is a group of films that can be labeled “anti-animations.” Copyright by Film Polski MCMLXXVI (1976) by Piotr Szulkin is, as the director put it himself, an “anti-avant-garde.” Edward Sturlis’s Plaża / Beach (1964) may have been the first attempt in Poland to combine live actors with drawn characters. Słońce – film bez kamerySun: A Non-Camera Film (1977) by Julian Antonisz is the first film rubber-stamped directly onto film stock. The cartoons of Mariusz Wilczyński challenge the classic animation craftsmanship. Here the images flicker, yet they emanate pure cinematic poetry, as do animations by Wojciech Bąkowski. Janek Koza’s short mock TV programs. Another satire on television is Koło Bermudzkie / Bermuda Wheel (1979) by Jerzy Kalina. Cinéma Vérité (1979) by Andrzej Warchał is a miniature jewel of political satire. Talking about the politics: two election spots by the photographer Tomek Sikora, Czapka / Cap and Ciastka / Cakes (both 2007) use a rather particular kind of anti-animation technique: sequencing of still images. – Marcin Giżycki

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The 33rd Istanbul Film Festival continues between 5 - 20 April around different venues in Istanbul.