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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Sydney Film Festival (18) - Peter Hourigan catches a screening of COLD WAR (Pavel Pawlikowski, Poland)

Editor’s Note: Peter Hourigan is on his way to Bologna for Il Cinema Ritrovato. He recently passed through Wroclaw in Poland and sent this despath to friends about a film having its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film festival. Now read on..

Pawel Pawlikoski
A friend had mentioned an interesting cinema in Wroclaw, and I realised I was on the main street that it was on so I wandered in its direction. It was impressive - a new building, with a large foyer, with plenty of space to sit and have a coffee, or just gather to talk about the movie. There was also a book and DVD shop. 

I asked the girl for help to see if there were Polish films with English Sub-
titles on DVD. I wasn’t interested in the ones we know well (Wajda, Kieslowski etc.)  I did buy three titles, each from within the last ten years. I don’t think I’ve got any real gems and I can’t remember the titles now.

The cinemas (three screens) generally seem to screen films in repertory, old and new mixed together, and nothing seeming to have more than a single screening a day.  I asked the person at the box office if there were any English friendly screenings today or tomorrow, within limits. I didn’t need to see I, TONYA again!

New Horizon Cinema, Wroclaw, Poland
When he said COLD WAR with English sub-titles started in 30 minutes time, I couldn’t contain myself. If you haven’t caught up with it yet, this is the very new film from Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikoski who made the wonderful IDA. He won best director at Cannes only last month, and the new film only opened here in Poland six days ago.  So it is very, very new, and to find it with sub-titles was beyond any hope I had.

It was worth all this anticipation, but seeing it here in Poland did add something special.  It’s a very dramatic story, told in a very restrained way, passing over about twenty years of Poland’s historical experience from the late 1940s. The heroine is a young girl who is discovered and groomed to be a star singer in one of the propaganda folkloric troupes the Communist regimes of the time, loved as long as they could keep the lid on the performers, especially if they were performing beyond the Iron Curtain.

Cold War
It is compact (less than 90 minutes) in a somehow unique looking black and white academy ratio, and Pawlikowski’s compositions are so intriguing. Often the important story/diegetic information is all in one sixth of the frame, at the bottom, emphasising a real sense of being enclosed, encased, contained. 

It was on a wonderfully big screen, and I was absolutely thrilled to have seen it. 

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