Embassy of the Republic of Poland: A Polish Quartet
National Gallery of Art, East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

202-234-3800 ext. 2165

The Embassy of the Republic of Poland

cordially invites you to a film program:

A Polish Quartet:

Jerzy Skolimowski in the 1960s

as a part of "Jerzy Skolimowski: U.S. Retrospective"

at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC

A force in Polish cinema during the 1960s, JERZY SKOLIMOWSKI (b. 1938) -- director, screenwriter, actor, painter and also a boxer (in his youth) -- is one of Poland's most prolific film auteurs. He co-wrote the scripts for Andrzej Wajda's Innocent Sorcerers and Roman Polański's Knife in the Water, graduated from the prestigious Łódź Film School, and directed and acted in four low-budget, semiautobiographical features-works that portray the familiar theme of youthful alienation with a fresh stylistic punch.

Skolimowski began his career with this series of radical, highly personal films including Identification Marks: None (1964) and Walkover (1965), with the same protagonist, Leszczyc – a Nouvelle Vague character, aimless and suspended between life choices. In 1966 his Barrier received the Grand Prix at the International Art Film Festival in Bergamo.

"I like to make movies with serious layers," he said of these early works, before leaving Poland in 1967 when Hands Up! caused political controversy and was shelved for its criticism of communism and the Polish people. Since then he has lived and worked in the U.S. and Europe.

In 1967 Skolimowski's Le Départ won a Golden Bear in Berlin; Shout (1978) with Alan Bates received the Special Jury Prize in Cannes; and Moonlighting (1982) with Jeremy Irons – the Cannes Jury Prize.

Although his main passions later in life have been poetry and painting, Skolimowski triumphantly returned in 2008 with the acclaimed Four Nights with Anna. Skolimowski's most recent feature, Essential Killing (2010), about the dramatic death of a presumed terrorist, was lauded abroad as an extraordinary work of film art, yet was never released in North America. The film won the Best Actor and Special Jury Prize awards from Quentin Tarantino's jury at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.

Based on his groundbreaking early career alone, Jerzy Skolimowski retains a favored place in the pantheon of postwar Polish masters.

As a poet my mind is trained along the path of poetic associations-I'm not afraid to wander away from direct narrative-I feel safe with a story that tempts you to believe or disbelieve.

- Jerzy Skolimowski


Poland 1964; with: Elżbieta Czyżewska, Jerzy Skolimowski; 77 min.

Skolimowski's melancholy and visually-striking feature debut follows a day and a half in the life of a restless former ichthyology student, Leszczyc as he reexamines his aimless life and loves. Rysopis'instant critical and popular success in Poland and abroad transformed Skolimowski into a spokesman of what some hailed as the Polish "New Wave". (Haden Guest, HFA).

"Rysopiswas raw, undisciplined and riveting. And while his craft skills grew by quantum leaps with Walkover and Bariera, Skolimowski maintained a brash style and singular outlook that cemented his worldwide reputation." (Leonard Klady, Variety)

Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.

Admission: free


Poland 1965; with: Aleksandra Zawieruszanka, Krzysztof Chamiec, Jerzy Skolimowski, Elżbieta Czyżewska; 70 min.

This follow-up and loose sequel to Rysopisalso follows a day and a half in the life of Leszczyc, now a middleweight boxer drifting across Poland hustling his way into amateur tournaments. A brooding farewell to youth, Walkover delivers a satiric critique of Polish bureaucratic paternalism and the absurdities of the Communist regime.

Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

Admission: free


Poland 1966; with: Jan Nowicki, Joanna Szczerbic, Tadeusz Łomnicki; 77 min.

In the surreal and poetic Barrier, a medical school dropout, tries to diagnose his own gradual detachment from the world. Its striking expression of the new current in postwar Polish cinema and its break from more traditional narrative conventions are made clear by the unexpected use of abrupt slap-stick, the improvised feel of the dialogue, and the innovative jazz score by the legendary Krzysztof Komeda. (Haden Guest, HFA).

Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

Admission: free


Poland 1967; premiered 1985; with: Jerzy Skolimowski, Joanna Szczerbic, Tadeusz Łomnicki, Adam Hanuszkiewicz, Bogumił Kobiela; 76 min.

A planned reunion of former medical school classmates is stopped when they get stuck en route and spend a night on a train in an empty freight car to revaluate their life choices and reminiscence about the past. In 1967, shortly before its completion, Polish censors banned the release of Hands Up! after Skolimowski refused to remove the controversially absurdist image of a Stalin billboard with double eyes from the movie. The banning of Hands Up! led Skolimowski to leave Poland. In 1980, Skolimowski directed a fascinating first person prologue, shot in London and Lebanon, commenting upon his career and life outside and after Poland, wondering what would have happened if he had given in and bowed to censorship. (Haden Guest, HFA).

Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

Admission: free

Location: National Gallery of Art, East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

Presented by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington DC, with additional support from the National Film Archive in Warsaw, Poland.

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