Festival film POLSKA shows new Polish cinema in Berlin: in the middle of the edge

Its culture also shows that Poland is not lost to democracy. The films that are made between Masuria and Neisse, between the Oderhaff and the Carpathians are among the best that Europe has to offer. Little of it makes it to German screens. But with “film POLSKA” a hand-picked selection of contemporary film art comes to us every year, for the 17th time.

A look at the opening contribution reveals the secret of the liveliness of Polish films. “Wszystkie nasze strachy” (All Our Fears) takes place in the deepest provinces, in Mazovia, northwest of the capital. Daniel Rycharski lives here, near the town of Sierpc. He is a colorful bird, yet firmly integrated into everyday rural life. His installations belong to the village environment, but are also highly coveted on the art market. Openly gay, he is also a fervent churchgoer. After a young girl commits suicide, she is blamed for being a bad influence. The situation gradually escalates.

Unspectacular places become settings for great cinema

Now that sounds like a nice screenplay idea that was sharpened during the pitching. But everything is true. Rycharski (born 1986), who is famous in Poland, even looks exactly like Dawid Ogrodnik embodied: in his LGBT tracksuit jacket and his dyed blond hair chasing down the holey village streets on his motorbike. Such details would in themselves be secondary. In connection with the core of the story, however, an enormous social explosiveness becomes visible through them. It’s about accommodation and denial. Aesthetic decisions cannot be separated from postural issues.

The director was Łukasz Ronduda, a man who had already made a name for himself as a curator, experimental film researcher and author before turning to film directing. With his co-director and cameraman Łukasz Gutt, he fulfilled a utopia in “All Our Fears” that hardly anyone in this country can remember. A clever, relevant story is staged with a high visual value, as pure cinema!

Other films in the competition also fulfill this promise. Unspectacular locations are often used as the setting, such as the foothills of the Carpathians in Bartosz Blaschke’s “Sonata”. In the mid-1990s, a therapist here diagnoses the alleged autism of a child as a result of unrecognized deafness. With the help of a hearing aid, a piano and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, the boy’s buried inner world finally opens up. And then the two hermit women without electricity and running water in the documentary film “Bukolika” by Karol Pałka! Their archaic existence is lovingly observed, repeatedly short-circuited with the brutally tender music of the band “We will fail”. In Leipzig there was a well-deserved “Silver Dove” for this achievement.

Festival “film POLSKA”, various cinemas, June 22nd to 29th

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