Andrzej Wajda passed away on October 9, 2016 in Warsaw at the age of 90, nearly a month after the world premiere of his last film, Afterimage. For more than half a century, Wajda crafted a filmography that encapsulated the essence of postwar Poland and constitutes, quite simply, one of the great legacies of world cinema. No single visual style or strategy characterizes his films. His work often employed intricately illuminated deep spaces as well as looser, more vérité methods; many served as counter-narratives to the officially sanctioned records kept by Stalinized Poland; others were more oblique and meditative as they reckoned with concepts including individualism, one’s duty toward others, and the meaning of freedom. This February, the Film Society is honored to present a selection of the Polish master’s previous films in celebration of his monumental life’s work, as well as the New York premiere of Afterimage, an impassioned memorial to the great avant-garde artist Władysław Strzemiński.
Presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute. Organized by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan.
Thursday, February 9
Saturday, February 11
Tuesday, February 14
This February, the Film Society is honored to present the New York premiere of Andrzej Wajda’s last film, Afterimage, and a selection of the Polish master’s previous films in celebration of his monumental lifework.
Introduction by film scholar Annette InsdorfAn impassioned memorial to the great avant-garde artist and theorist Władysław Strzemiński, Wajda's last film is also a stark observation of a political mechanism that nearly erased one of Poland's most important artists from public memory.
Wajda chronicles a soft bohemia made up of motor scooters, easy flirtations, and jazz enjoyed by a group of Warsaw twenty-somethings in Innocent Sorcerers, brilliantly capturing the pleasures and terrors that began to sweep through the Eastern bloc countries by the late ‘50s.
After a string of hard-hitting political works that roused the censors’ ire and brought him into the international spotlight, Wajda deliberately changed pace with The Maids of Wilko, a wistful, elegiac, almost Chekhovian recreation of a long-vanished Poland.
Wajda’s Palme d’Or–winning masterpiece follows the workers’ strike in August 1980, which led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union. This (loosely defined) sequel to Man of Marble is, in retrospect, as much about the end of an era as the dawn of a new one.
In Wajda’s powerful meditation on art and politics, young filmmaker Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) explores the life of Mateusz Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a now-discredited labor hero of the 1950s who is remembered only through the statues made of him residing in cellars and storage lockers.
After he raises the issue of freedom of the press on television, a successful journalist’s world begins to fall apart. Rough Treatment does for contemporary Poland what Man of Marble did for the recent past: reveal the everyday dishonesty and hypocrisy that holds the system together.
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