Polanski and the Polish Avant-Garde - Thur. Aug. 1st - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Polanski and the Polish Avant-Garde, a program of brilliant short films and animation from Cold-War era Poland. Dark, clever and with an ever-present undertone of veiled oppression, this program will open your eyes to the beauty and wit of this handpicked handful of Polish innovators. A young Roman Polanski (arguably the most famous filmmaker to come out of Poland) brings us Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958), his darkly comic student film rife with absurdities and angst.  The visionary artist Jan Lenica, (among Polanski's biggest influences) gives us a hip animated version of Ionesco's Rhinoceros (1965) utilizing collage and cut-outs.  With strict censorship from the state, many Polish filmmakers were forced to use allegory to relay their anti-war messages in a veiled manner.  Tad Makarczynski's The Magician (1962) tells the story of young boys recruited to be soldiers by a nefarious magician.   The incredibly brilliant (and Oddball favorite) dystopian masterpiece No. 00173 (1967) will blow your mind with it's eery depiction of a grim factory, momentarily brightened by a colorful butterfly. Working with oil-based paints on glass, master Polish animator Witold Giersz's Red and Black (1963) influenced animators the world over.  Plus, two stop-motion pieces; Worek (AKA The Sack) about a burlap sack that dictatorially terrorizes a room of inanimate objects and the darling The Day the Colors Went Away with a little girl who must hunt down her runaway watercolors to recolor the world. With more surprises for the early birds! 

Date: Thursday August 1st, 2013 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to programming@oddballfilm.com or (415) 558-8117


Two Men and a Wardrobe (B+W, 1958)
Roman Polanski’s darkly comic early film has many of the director’s preoccupations already present: alienation, crisis in identity, and a bizarre view of humanity that sees us as some very strange animals. In this quasi-surrealist jaunt, two otherwise normal looking men emerge from the sea carrying an enormous wardrobe, which they proceed to carry around a nearby town. Seeking fun, solace, or maybe some place to put the damn thing, all the two find is rejection at every turn. Watch for Polanski in a bit part he later reprises in Chinatown. “Two Men and a Wardrobe” initiated Polanski’s collaboration with Krzysztof Komeda, the great Polish jazz composer who went on to score such Polanski hallmarks as Knife in the Water, Cul de Sac, and Rosemary's Baby. 

Rhinoceros (Dir. Jan Lenica, Color, 1965)
Filmmaker and multitalented artist Jan Lenica's checkered career has encompassed excursions into music, architecture, poster-making, costume design, children's book illustration, and all aspects of filmmaking. It is, however, for his animation that he is best known, particularly his collage and "cutout" films, which have their roots in the art of Max Ernst and John Heartfield. The films have influenced the work of Jan Švankmajer and Terry Gilliam.
In this film, Polish master Lenica utilizes cutouts creating an animated adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s brilliant play about the oppressive and manipulative power of conformity.

The Magician aka Czarodziej (B+W, 1962)
Directed by Tad Makarczynski; produced by Semafor Studios in Poland, this remarkable rarity is a grim, savage and unpleasantly effective little anti-war allegory, cleverly conceived and beautifully executed.  “The Magician” recruits a small group of young boys to become little soldiers… Not much information on director Makarczynski,- he most certainly lived through the horror of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Uprising, and in addition to many documentaries about the war he collaborated with “On The Bowery” director Lionel Rogosin on the anti-war film “Good Times, Wonderful Times”.

No. 00173 (Color, 1969)
Rare and brilliant, this experimental film by Polish director Jan Habarta portrays a fictional factory with Metropolis-esque workers in radiation suits. In the midst of this grey atmosphere, one butterfly tries to arouse a touch of beauty.  

Worek (AKA The Sack) (Dir. Tadeusz Wilcosz, Color, 1967)
Mysterious and creepy stop-motion film from Poland- a burlap sack proceeds to consume everything in sight, until all the objects- scissors, sewing machines, etc. revolt, organize and subdue it.

The Day The Colors Went Away (Color, 1971)
Charming Polish stop-motion animation about a messy painter girl.  The colors in her paint box are fed up with her messy painting style and hit the road- taking all the world's colors with them.  Stuck in a black and white world, the little girl sets out to find the colors (who have gathered in a rainbow) and re-paint the world.

Red and Black (Dir. Witold Giersz, Color, 1963)
Working with oil-based paints on glass, master Polish animator Witold Giersz creates a fluid, color patch style that would influence many.

For the Early Birds:

Gypsies (1972, B+W)
Directed by Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych, this enthralling non-narrative documentary provides unique insights into the nomadic life of Polish gypsies in the late 1960s.