Review: Kino Polska, Virtual Film Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Brooklyn Academy of Music

By Basilio Alferow on 4 May 2021
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It’s been over a year of lockdowns and one can’t be blamed for wanting to go back to the movies.  Fortunately, we live in an age where it’s not even necessary to wear a mask or observe social distancing since now one can stream a film festival in the comfort of one’s own living room.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is currently presenting a showcase of  Polish cinema presenting the work of new, up and coming, Polish filmmakers, as well as a thriller, “Mr. Jones,” by Agnieszka Holland, a renowned director with Polish roots.

Presented in conjunction with the Polish Cultural Institute New York, the series consists of seven feature films, four of them New York premieres, including “Never Gonna Snow Again,” Poland’s film entry at this year’s Oscars.

The series presents a variety of films ranging from the exploration of the immigrant experience, “The Taste of Pho,” albeit in this case a Southeast Asian family that emigrated to Warsaw only to be confronted by the challenges of assimilating into a totally alien, to them, culture, to a harrowing account of a tragic event told in an almost real-time cinema verité style in “Supernova.”

The one animated feature, “Kill and Leave This Town,” isn’t anything like the photo-realistic animations from Pixar we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. Instead it is a hand-drawn minimalist, avant garde, deeply personal opus that leaves the impression of its creator using the art of film to resolve inner conflicts. Which brings the viewer to the common thread weaving through the series.

Henry David Thoreau said it best in his Walden: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation,” and that is borne out by the underlying commonality of the themes in the chosen films. Though at times the desperation isn’t all that quiet, not everything is as bleak as this observation may suggest.  Flawed heroes make for engaging drama but, in this case, they also provide a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

Not every film will be to everyone’s taste, but as a whole the series provides an insight into the state of today’s Polish cinema and the promise these young filmmakers bring to the silver screen, even if at this time that is limited to home theater’s screens.  Not since “Knife in the Water”  (can it be 59 years already?), and before Roman Polanski was seduced by Hollywood, not that he hasn’t created a body of work to be proud of in Tinseltown, has this film lover seen such promise.  We surely will be hearing from these filmmakers in the not distant future.


Kino Polska: New Polish Cinema
Through May 6, 2021

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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