To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s passing, the 5th edition of GFF will host an exhibition showcasing the life and works of the legendary director. Curated by celebrated production designer and art director Onsi Abou Seif, the Krzysztof Kieślowski Retrospective Exhibition is set to be presented through a cinematic lens that brings the displayed works to life.
The exhibition will feature 23 framed posters from the Film Museum in Łódź, all inspired by Kieślowski’s films. Additionally, it will incorporate original material from the film archive Cinematek, featuring 50 photos including posters from Kieślowski’s iconic films, their filming locations, the filming process, and of Krzysztof Kieślowski himself.
A highlight of the exhibition will be the screening, in loop, of a documentary film that doubles as a mosaic of the late director’s life, thoughts, and filmography, titled Krzysztof Kieślowski – I’m So-So, directed by Krzysztof Wierzbicki. There will also be an associated masterclass, Conversation with Zbigniew Zamachowski, in which the renowned film and theatre actor, will talk about his experience working with Kieślowski on Three Colors: White.
Recognized as one of the greatest film directors of our time, Kieślowski directed a remarkable number of films and documentaries in his relatively short lifetime, before dying at the age of 54 of a heart-attack. A source of inspiration to many in the industry, he gained international recognition and commercial success in the period from 1990 to 1994, whereas his early years in the industry began with documentaries, many of which portrayed life in his native Poland.
Kieślowski attended Łódź Film School until 1968 and was able to travel around Poland for his documentary research and filming, a freedom not afforded to most civilians. Although not always overtly political, Kieślowski’s observational documentary work often irked the authorities, bringing them into direct confrontation.
Disheartened by the challenges in depicting reality through his documentaries, he decided that, “Fiction not only allowed more artistic freedom but could portray everyday life more truthfully”. This led to his following film work, continuing with his focus on the injustices and constraints of the authoritarian and repressive society he lived in. Again, he was faced with censure and heavy handed treatment, with many of his works being blocked or subjected to enforced re-shooting and re-editing.
Nonetheless, his talent was widely recognized, garnering him accolades and numerous awards, including the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize (1988), FIPRESCI Prize (1988, 1991), and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (1991); the Venice Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize (1989), Golden Lion (1993), and OCIC Award (1993); and the Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear (1994). In 1995, he received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writing.
Kieślowski announced his retirement from filmmaking after the premiere of his last film Red at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.
Dekalog: Thou Shalt Not Kill
Krzysztof Kieślowski | Poland, Germany | 1988 | Polish | 84 min
Jacek, an angry drifter, murders a taxi driver, brutally and without motive. His case is assigned to Piotr, an idealistic young lawyer who is morally opposed to the death penalty. Their interactions take on an emotional honesty that throws the injustice of killing of any into stark disbelief for Piotr. The film won both the Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Best Film Award at the 1998 European Film Awards.
The Double Life of Véronique
Krzysztof Kieślowski | France, Poland, Norway | 1991 | French, Polish | 98 min
Veronika is a choir soprano living in Poland, Véronique is a music teacher living in France. Though unknown to each other, the two women share an enigmatic, emotional bond. Veronika starts a job in a music school, works hard, but collapses and dies during her first performance. At this point, Véronique’s life seems to take a turn. The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, and the Best Actress Award for Irene Jacob.
Krzysztof Kieślowski: I’m So-So
Krzysztof Wierzbicki | Denmark | 1995 | Polish | 56 min
Shot in 1995, I’m So-So uses interviews and brief film clips to explore the life of renowned Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski, who had just announced his decision to retire from making films. Among the specialists who analyze Kieślowski are a priest, a policeman, and a clairvoyant. Kieślowski himself reminisces too, on being bullied by his father and pursuing film direction as a path to stage directing. Filmed 10 months before his death, this film offers a rare glimpse into the mind of the late Kieślowski.
Three Colors: Blue
Krzysztof Kieślowski | France, Poland, Switzerland | 1993 | French | 100 min
Julie loses her composer husband and their child in a car crash. She tries to make a new start, away from her country house and a would-be lover. But music still surrounds her and she uncovers unpleasant facts about her husband’s life. Slowly, Julie learns to live again, as music and the gift to create it prove to be a healing force. The film received the Golden Lion and Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 1993 Venice Film Festival.
Three Colors: Red
Krzysztof Kieślowski | France, Poland, Switzerland | 1994 | French | 96 min
Part-time model Valentine’s life dramatically intersects with that of a bitter retired judge when she rescues his dog from a car accident. Their initially fiery relationship mellows into a close friendship and leads them to form a strange bond. Three Colors: Red was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Director for Kieślowski.
Three Colors: White
Krzysztof Kieślowski | France, Poland, Switzerland | 1994 | French, Polish | 91 min
Karol, a Polish hairdresser, is divorced by his beautiful French wife Dominique and thrown onto the streets of Paris, with no money and no passport. All seems lost until he meets a fellow Pole, who ingeniously smuggles Karol back to Warsaw in a suitcase. Once there, Karol is determined to take revenge against his ex-wife, but he hasn’t counted on love getting in the way of his perfect plan.