Poland’s potential for those seeking a new life is explored in New World (Nowy świat) a portmanteau film comprised of three separate stories. In the first, “Żanna”, directed by Elżbieta Benkowska, the protagonist is a Belurusian woman (Olga Kavalay-Aksenova), who has moved to Warsaw with her daughter, leaving behind her husband, a musician who has been imprisoned by the authorities. Żanna is embarking on a new relationship when news from her homeland radically disrupts her plans.
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New Urbanism isn’t a fresh musical genre emanating from ‘urban pioneer’ hipster raves, but rather, it’s a way of arranging our physical environment to preserve space, resources, and ultimately, time. As with so many “new” concepts, it’s actually a return to methods that worked splendidly before the rise of Mr. Ford’s Tin Lizzie.
Part of Artistic Director Michał Oleszczyk’s fresh vision for Gdynia Film Festival last year was the inauguration of a new strand entitled, appropriately enough, “Visions Apart” (“Inne Spojrzenie”). This is a sidebar to the Main Competition that serves as a showcase for more experimental, eccentric, hard-to-classify Polish films.
Beautifully short-haired in her role as the spiritualist/therapist in Body/Ciało, Maja Ostaszewska sports rather unflattering permed and dyed blonde tresses in Panie Dulskie. That unfortunate coiffure is just about the only discordant element in Filip Bajon’s film, however. Well, that and the unappealing, inappropriate English title that the movie’s been saddled with (Damaged). I guess that something like “The Dulska Clan” or “Dulskie Women” would be a fair translation of the original title.
Already honoured at Berlin, where it won the Silver Bear for best direction, Małgorzata Szumowska’s Body/Ciało screens at Gdynia following its domestic theatrical release earlier this year, confirming its status as one of the most significant Polish productions of 2015.
An uncanny blend of police procedural, deadpan black comedy and supernatural enquiry, the movie is an appropriately haunting experience, and the most accomplished and sustained feature that Szumowska has delivered to date.