Special appearances for SACRED: Friday, May 19 @7:50pm introduction by filmmaker Jon Reiss; Saturday, May 20 @7:50pm introduction by Scott Schwenk, teacher at Unplug Meditation and Wanderlust; Thursday, May 25 @7:50pm post-screening discussion with Rabbi Jay Strear of American Jewish University.
The great Polish director Andrzej Wajda‘s completed his last film just before his death last October. Poland’s official submission for this year’s Oscars, AFTERIMAGE (Powidoki) is a passionate biopic about avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski (brilliantly played by Polish superstar Boguslaw Linda), who battled Stalinist orthodoxy and his own physical impairments to advance his progressive ideas about art. Wajda said this about his movie:
“I wanted to film the story of an artist – a painter, for a very long time now. I decided to bring Władysław Strzemiński to screen because he is one of the most accomplished Polish artists, and he has been wiped out of the public memory by the consequent actions of the Communist government. Strzemiński understood the path of modern art. He explained it in his book entitled “Theory of Vision.” The conviction that the abstract art is the only option left to an artist, because thematic painting and post-impressionism have already said everything, gave him a strength to oppose the Communist authorities. He was an exceptional teacher, as well as a founder of the Museum of Modern Art in Łódź in 1934, second modern art museum in the world.
“AFTERIMAGE is a portrait of an unbroken man – a man confident of decisions he has taken; a man fully dedicated to art. The film depicts four grave years 1949 – 1952, when the “Sovietisation” of Poland took the most radical form, and the socialist realism became the obligatory style of artistic expression. I wanted to show a conflict of a distinguished individual with the Socialist state attempting to control every aspect of human life. How a human being can stand against the state apparatus? What is the price one has to pay for freedom of expression? What are the choices each individual faces in a totalitarian country? Although we thought these are questions of the past, they are slowly starting to haunt us also today, and we should not forget what we already know about how to answer them.”
With a career spanning over 60 years, Wajda’s contribution to cinema has been recognized by the Academy Awards (Honorary Oscar in 2000), European Film Awards (Lifetime Achievement, 1990), Berlin Film Festival (Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement, 2006), and many others. Four of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: THE PROMISED LAND (1975), THE MAIDS OF WILKO (1979), MAN OF IRON (1981), and KATYŃ (2007). MAN OF IRON won the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Wajda has directed films from many genres, but he began his career with a trilogy of anti-war films: A GENERATION (1954), KANAŁ (1957, Cannes Special Jury Prize) and ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958). He has made many films set during or dealing with post-World War II, including KORCZAK (1990), a story about a Jewish-Polish doctor who cares for orphan children, HOLY WEEK (1995) specifically on Jewish-Polish relations, and KATYŃ (2007) about the Katyń massacre, in which Wajda’s own father was murdered.
Wajda’s commitment to Poland’s Solidarity movement was manifested in Palme d’Or winner MAN OF IRON with Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa appearing as himself. The director’s involvement in this movement would prompt the Polish government to force Wajda’s production company out of business. Three decades later, Wajda made the biopic WALESA, MAN OF HOPE (European Film Awards – FIPRESCI Prize of the Year). Wajda’s other credits include 1983’s post-French Revolution epic DANTON, starring Gérard Depardieu, 1980’s THE ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR, starring John Gielgud; 1983’s A LOVE IN GERMANY featuring Hanna Schygulla, and 1988’s THE POSSESSED based on Dostoyevsky’s novel.
Award-winning director of photography Paweł Edelman has been one of Wajda’s great collaborators. They worked together on several films, including AFTERIMAGE ; WALESA: MAN OF HOPE; PAN TADEUSZ; SWEET RUSH (Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009); and Wajda’s 1994 film version of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot.
Wajda was born in 1926 in Suwałki, Poland, the son of a school teacher and an army officer. Wajda’s father was murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in what came to be known as the Katyń Massacre. In 1942 he joined the Polish resistance and served in the Armia Krajowa. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków’s Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.
After his apprenticeship with director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film: A GENERATION (1955). Throughout his film career, Wajda has simultaneously worked as a director in theater. His acclaimed productions include versions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Antigone and a unique interpretation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. He passed away October 9, 2016 in Warsaw.
HELL ON EARTH filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested will introduce and participate in a Q&A at the Monica Film Center after the 7:10 PM screening on Friday, May 19.
THE LAST SHAMAN director Raz Degan and James Freeman, the film’s subject, will participate in Q&A’s at the Music Hall after the 7:50 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, May 19 and 20, as well as after the 2:50 show on Sunday, May 21.
PAINT IT BLACK author Janet Fitch will participate in a Q&A following the 7:30 PM show at the Music Hall on Friday, May 19th. Lindsay Miller of Popsugar.com will moderate.
WAKEFIELD writer-director Robin Swicord will participate in Q&A’s after the 7:10 PM screenings at the Royal on Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27.
Later this month, U2, one of the all-time great rock ‘n’ roll bands that still walks the earth, will be playing a couple dates at the Rose Bowl. Get warmed up with a special screening of their rarely-seen, only-available-in-theaters 2007 concert film U2 3D, a unique cinematic experience that puts viewers within the pulsing energy of a stadium concert given by the Dubliners. Marrying innovative digital 3D imagery and 5.1 Surround Sound with the excitement of a live U2 concert shot in South America during the final leg of their Vertigo tour, it creates an immersive theatrical experience unlike any 3D or concert film that has come before. U2 3D takes viewers on an extraordinary journey they will never forget.
On Friday we’ll open the winning documentary HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY at the Monica Film Center, Playhouse 7, and Town Center 5. It is a fascinating account of the romantic and creative partnership of storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film researcher Lillian Michelson, two unsung heroes of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Although they worked on hundreds of classic films and were responsible for some of Hollywood’s most iconic examples of visual storytelling, their contributions remain largely uncredited. This film chronicles their remarkable marriage and careers through six decades of movie-making history.
To get a sense of how special this film is, read the April 28, 2017 the New York Times ‘critic’s pick’ review by Monica Castillo: ‘Harold and Lillian’ Introduces a Hollywood Power Couple and then come see the film. Several screenings will feature Q&A’s, including some with Mrs. Michelson.
“Harold and Lillian Michelson’s names may not sound familiar, but you’ve most likely seen their work in “West Side Story,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Birds,” among many other films. Harold, the storyboard artist husband, and Lillian, the film researcher wife, were a prolific team whose careers are being profiled in Daniel Raim’s documentary “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story.”
“Through charming animated sketches and interviews with the couple and some of their friends, like Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola and Danny DeVito, the documentary reflects on the couple’s work together — often with Mrs. Michelson’s findings inspiring her husband’s art.
“Mr. Michelson, who died in 2007, climbed the industry ladder as a storyboard artist, eventually becoming an art director and production designer. Not wanting to stay at home, Mrs. Michelson volunteered at a studio library and became a sought-after film researcher.
“Their behind-the-scenes influence on filmmakers was far-reaching. Mr. Michelson’s storyboards show sketched versions of memorable scenes, like the parting of the Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments” and Anne Bancroft’s raised leg overshadowing Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.” Mrs. Michelson excitedly recalls interviewing women at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles about traditional costumes for “Fiddler on the Roof” and questioning a drug kingpin for “Scarface.”
“The stories are told out of order to make room for personal tangents, including the challenges of raising an autistic son in the 1960s. Like flipping through misplaced leaves in a photo book, the documentary maintains a freeflowing tone as it uncovers the work that went into creating some of the indelible scenes in Hollywood history.”