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Banner stills L to R: 1, 2, 3...Cinematographer's Exercise, Open Form – Game on an Actress's Face, and Market, all courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

Winding Paths (Kręte ścieżki)
Andrzej Barański, 1970, 35 mm, 6 minutes


Still from Winding Paths, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

In 1973, Andrzej Barański (b. 1941) graduated from the Film School in Łódź and worked as a short film director awaiting his feature film debut in 1979. He then went on to develop a broad cinematographic practice permeated with a lyrical and nostalgic mood, which he still pursues today. Winding Paths is a very early film by Barański that he made during his second year of studies at the Film School together with the cinematographer Zbigniew Rybczyński, who later developed an international career that saw, among other accolades, a 1982 Oscar win.

The film portrays a complex “ballet” of two people—a man and a woman—who live next door to each other but cannot seem to meet on their daily routes as they run errands. Both the man and the woman make their way around a little town, but their winding paths never cross. The camera follows each of them in the pursuit of their ordinary activities. Alongside it, a sound track that seems lifted straight out of a noir generates a mysterious atmosphere reminiscent of a crime film, suggesting that a key dramatic moment is about to happen. The eventual impromptu meeting of the two protagonists in the street, which lasts for only a moment and provides occasion merely to exchange greetings, serves as an ironic culmination of the film and releases the mysterious tension successfully built up by the film structure, camera work, and soundtrack.  — Łukasz Mojsak

Market (Rynek)
Josef Robakowski, 1970, 35 mm, 4 minutes


Still from Market, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

An iconic and groundbreaking work of Polish media art, Market was made in 1970 by Józef Robakowski (b. 1939)[1] in collaboration with two other artists—Tadeusz Junak and Ryszard Meissner—who were also members of the Workshop of the Film Form. Within their broad focus on film technique, the members of the WFF launched extensive efforts to “unpack” the potential of technology for creating illusion, highlighting the fact that what was perceived as real in film was, in fact, a technological creation.

Market portrays a day in the life of a market square in Łódź with the help of time-lapse photography: by using photographs taken every five seconds from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., nine hours of activity in a busy public space are condensed into four minutes. The film’s soundtrack of insistent ticking further emphasizes the passage of time. Robakowski here explores the manipulative potential of image recording devices, which rather than conveying a perceived reality, shape the viewer’s perception of it. Yet far from denouncing this reality-transforming potential outright, the artist views media devices and procedures as a means to shake viewers out of their usual perception of reality and open up new ways of seeing the world. Today, Robakowski continues to work as a highly active and influential media artist and a mentor for younger generations of artists and filmmakers.  — Łukasz Mojsak

The organizers would like to thank Weronika Czołnowska and the Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Filmowa, TV i Teatralna im. L. Schillera w Łodzi (The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź), for their help in making a screening of this film possible in Washington.

I’m Going (Ide)
Josef Robakowski, 1973, 35 mm, 3 minutes


Still from I'm Going, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

One of the greatest and most versatile figures in Polish postwar art, Józef Robakowski (b. 1939) has been developing his practice since the late 1960s. He began as one of the pillars of the Workshop of the Film Form in the 1970s and has subsequently explored a wide range of approaches and themes, intermingling the personal and political dimensions of cinematic work, as can be seen in his 2000 film From My Window. Shot between 1978 and 1999 from the window of the filmmaker’s apartment, the film exposes two decades’ worth of momentous social changes from the most personal point of view possible.

An important part in the artist’s work in the 1970s dealt with the interactions of humans with technological devices, which he termed “biological-mechanical records.” A model example of such a “biological-mechanical record” is the film I’m Going, which portrays in a single take the artist’s way up a long set of stairs that lead to the top of a tower. The short film documents his climb and growing fatigue, manifest in his voice as he counts the steps. The structure of the film embodies the premise of theory-practice, a term coined by workshop members to denote operations based on initial simple models, which provided a score for the execution of a given action and could, unlike a regular script, reveal unforeseeable results and phenomena. Ryszard Waśko’s 30 Sound Situations, also shown here, is yet another example of such an approach. In the same spirit, I’m Going unveils and explores the vital forces of the artist’s body put to work in a physically demanding procedure. This “video-performance” heralds Robakowski’s later activities centered on a direct interaction between himself and the camera in a performative manner. In Robakowski’s practice, the expression of vitality and physicality of the self has always been tightly interwoven with cool conceptual, structural, and analytical approaches.  — Łukasz Mojsak

The organizers would like to thank Weronika Czołnowska and the Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Filmowa, TV i Teatralna im. L. Schillera w Łodzi (The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź), for their help in making a screening of this film possible in Washington.


1. The most comprehensive source of information in English to date on Robakowski is Bożena Czubak, ed., Józef Robakowski: My Own Cinema (Warsaw, 2012). (back to top)