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Thursday, Sep 25, 2014
Analysis of the winners and losers at Saturday night’s Gdynia Film Festival closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony and prize-giving of the 39th Gdynia Film Festival took place on Saturday night on the Main Stage of the city’s Musical Theatre, the site of many of the memorable screenings and premieres held across the festival’s jam-packed, exhilarating six days.


Punctuated beautifully by live orchestra performances of Wojciech Kilar film scores (as a tribute to the iconic composer who died last December), the slickly-staged two-hour event proved most delightful. Not all of the decisions made by the international jury were what I would have hoped for myself. But the results certainly reflected the panel’s intention to reward as wide a range of films as possible: an appropriate approach, perhaps, in a year which yielded no one masterpiece but rather a selection of diverse, interesting and sometimes provocative works, from the traditional to the wildly experimental.


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Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014
Two exciting Main Competition thrillers probing Polish-Russian relations screen on the fifth day of the Festival.

The Main Competition selection at this year’s Gdynia Film Festival has been highly diverse, with films ranging from the low, low-budget (Aleksandra Gowin and Ireneusz Grzyb’s disarming Little Crushes); Krzysztof Skonieczny’s disturbing Hardkor Disko) to the super-lavish (Warsaw 44).


More towards the latter end of the scale are Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s Jack Strong and Waldemar Krzystek’s The Photographer, two highly enjoyable, polished mainstream thrillers which also probe Polish-Russian relations in intriguing ways.


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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
A mystery thriller, a biographical portrait, a mother/daughter melodrama and a visit to the "Island of Love" make up our fourth day at Gdynia Film Festival.

In Michał Otłowski’s Waterline  (Jeziorak), Jowita Budnik plays Iza Deren, a no-nonsense policewoman who’s investigating a girl’s death. The decidedly put-upon Iza has more than this case on her plate, unfortunately.


She’s pregnant, for one, and the father of the twins she’s expecting has disappeared under mysterious circumstances with another police colleague. Meanwhile, the investigation turns up some long-buried secrets from Iza’s own past.


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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
When Tits of Clay, the fictional band in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, put on a real performance, Hedheads wig out.

As the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was coming together, then-titular-star Neil Patrick Harris and the musicians/actors cast to be his backing band performed a live gig at Rockwood Music Hall for an intimate crowd. Since then, the members of that backing band, Tits of Clay, have decided to become a real band as their time permits. With Harris and / or other special Hedwig guests, the band has played a few late-nights shows at the Mercury Lounge, post-Hedwig performance. The most recent was September 4th and, despite the 11:59 pm start time, the show sold out with the line of people waiting to get in going around the corner. Most of these folks would be considered Hedheads and they could have heard of the show from a tweet from NPH, implying he might be there. But though they might have come to hear Hedwig showtunes, those same fans may be surprised to hear Tits of Clay do an almost entirely punk set.


The Tits’ members attire and hair certainly would have given that away though and The New Yorker wrote up a good description of them, “Justin Craig (guitar, keyboards, vocals), the music director, who has a Pete Townshend nose and a prettified Nigel Tufnel hairstyle; Matt Duncan (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), who has short emerald-green hair and a macho black mustache; Tim Mislock (guitar, vocals), who has asymmetrical blond hair, like a half-buzzed Leif Garrett; Peter Yanowitz (drums, vocals), with crimson hair, on drums. They combine the look of old-school glam and punk with the one thing the genre currently lacks: youth.”


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Two Main Competition films that explore Poland's past: one treating it as picaresque comedy, the other as harrowing special effects spectacle.

As demonstrated by the recent success of films as diverse as In Darkness (2011), Aftermath (2012) and Ida (2013) (to name but three), Poland’s turbulent and often traumatic history remains a topic of great concern for contemporary filmmakers. This interest is evident again in a large number of the films screening at Gdynia this year, of which Jerzy Stuhr’s picaresque comedy, The Citizen (Obywatel), must rank as one of the most curious.


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