Polish Avant-Garde Film Shorts | Chicago Reader

Polish Avant-Garde Film Shorts

Don't be daunted by the arcane-sounding title: several of these eight shorts are amazing. Jerzy Zarzycki and Tadeusz Kowalski's There Is a Ball Tonight (1934) combines images of an annual ball for architects, a man donning a shirt, and feet climbing stairs, achieving an unhinged unpredictability. Made in exile in London, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson's The Eye and the Ear (1945) is an unusually successful attempt at giving visual form to music; what's fascinating about its elaborate geometrical patterns is the way they avoid reductive synchronization and establish their own space. In the Themersons' affecting Calling Mr. Smith (1943) we hear Bach playing over images of monumental architecture. The meditation on high culture is interrupted by a sharp break in tone—the sprocket holes of the film become visible and the narrator calls upon “Mr. Smith” to rouse himself from complacency and join the fight against the Hitlerian menace to civilization. In addition to six vintage films, the program includes two recent remakes of films lost in World War II. 70 min.

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