Polish films scored big-time with audiences at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, with Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” and Maciej Pieprzyca’s “Life Feels Good” singled out for Golden Space Needle honors, and Polish director Roman Polanski’s French-language “Venus in Fur” winning prizes from full-series passholders.
Reviews for all three pictures tended to wax nostalgic about earlier Polish cinema, including Polanski’s 1963 debut, “Knife in the Water,” and Andrzej Wajda’s 1958 classic, “Ashes and Diamonds.” The latter, a Martin Scorsese favorite, will be shown later this fall at Northwest Film Forum.
In the meantime, NWFF will be screening “Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema,” beginning July 7 with Jerzy Kawalerowiczz’s 1966 Egyptian epic “Pharaoh” and concluding July 11 with Andrzej Munk’s 1957 wartime drama “Eroica.” The series is copresented with the Seattle Polish Film Festival.
All eight films have been digitally remastered, with new English-language subtitles, thanks partly to Scorsese’s restoration efforts (Jedrzej Sablinski is given much of the credit for the actual restoration work).
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Here’s the lineup:
“Pharaoh,” at 7 p.m. July 7. In stark contrast to glittery Hollywood movies about Moses or Cleopatra, this three-hour 1966 tale of a power-hungry young pharaoh emphasizes primitive politics and dynamic crowd scenes. It was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film but lost to “A Man and a Woman.” (Also among the losers that year was the groundbreaking “Battle of Algiers.”)
“Jump,” at 7 p.m. July 8. Tadeusz Konwicki directed this 1965 star vehicle for then-rising star Zbyszek Cybyluski (also known as the Polish James Dean). It’s described as a western set in 1960s Poland.
“Mother Joan of the Angels,” at 9 p.m. July 8. Three years before tackling “Pharaoh,” Kawalerowicz directed this haunting portrait of a convent populated by possessed nuns. Ken Russell later covered similar territory in “The Devils,” but in a much gaudier manner.
“Black Cross,” at 7 p.m. July 9. Aleksander Ford’s 166-minute 1960 epic, also known as “Knights of the Teutonic Order,” focuses on a nobleman returning from a war in Lithuania. Often described as the most popular Polish movie ever made.
“The Wedding,” at 7 p.m. July 10. Wajda’s 1972 film of a 1901 verse play about a peasant girl’s marriage to a city poet.
“The Hourglass Sanatorium,” at 9 p.m. July 10. Wojciech J. Has directed this dreamy 1973 adaptation of Bruno Schulz’s fantasy about the walking dead. (Has also directed the equally trippy “Saragossa Manuscript,” which will be shown at NWFF in October.)
“Camouflage,” at 7 p.m. July 11. Krzysztof Zanussi’s 1977 summer-camp satire, about the uncomfortable relationship of a professor and his assistant.
“Eroica,” at 9 p.m. July 11. The summer series ends with Andrzej Munk’s 1957 mixture of two wartime stories: one about a black marketeer involved in the anti-Nazi underground, the other about survival techniques in a concentration camp.
John Hartl: email@example.com