Words by Ed King
Running for ten days at venues across the city, this is the 3rd installment of the annual event – celebrating and showcasing ‘the spirit of the best of Eastern European cinema and culture through Film, Music, Discussions and Workshops.’
Presenting ‘17 full-length and short films from 12 countries, like Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia’, alongside a series of supporting events, the Behind the Curtain Film Festival is organised by the Polish Expats Association (PEA).
With a strong undercurrent of art, music, food and drink, Behind the Curtain presents more than just a straight film festival – wrapping itself in a kaleidoscope of cultures from Central and Eastern Europe. You’ve seen the film, now try the pastry. Sounds good to us.
Times and admission prices to each aspect of the 10 day programme will vary, but we couldn’t find anything that broke the £10 barrier (even with free cake). Below are a handful of potential highlights from this year’s Behind the Curtain, but for the full festival programme – including times, locations and prices for each screening or event, click here.
Loads going on. Centrala has an intimate feel to it at the best of times, but my spidey sense tell me the launch of Behind the Curtain will be a cultural love-in of the most endearing order. With the aforementioned free cake… thank you The Polish Bakery.
Plus the evening is full of music from Birmingham Conservatoire, including the ‘young open minded undergraduate’ violin quartet Cracovia, the Ajde Trio playing Balkan and Klezmer folk, as well as accordionist, vocalist and composer, Pawel Zaba, singing a selection of Polish songs. There’s also a special presentation of Earth Is Flat – ‘a visual and musical experiment that mixes trippy melodies, broken beats and deep bass wrapped up in never ending ideas.’
Tasters of the festival’s wider film programme will be screened, alongside a special tribute to Polish film and theatre director, Andrzej Wajda – the Academy and Palme d’Or recognised film maker behind internationally revered titles including Kanal (1956), The Promised Land (1975), Mon of Marble (1977), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).
Running from 7pm to 11pm on Friday 18th November, entry to the Behind the Curtain Film Festival launch event is free. For direct info click here.
United Sates of Love / Zjednoczone Stany Miłości @ mac 25.11.16
Set in the middle of Poland’s transition from the People’s to the Third Republic, amidst the ‘breaking’ of the Eastern Bloc, United Sates of Love / Zjednoczone Stany Miłości tells the story of four women as they battle with their frustrations, obsessions and individual interpretations of intimacy and love.
Dark, off beat and visceral, United Sates of Love / Zjednoczone Stany Miłości was selected for the Golden Bear Award for Best Film at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. Although losing out to Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, Tomasz Wasilewski’s third feature film did take the Silver Bear Award for Best Script back from Berlin – receiving international acclaim for the young Polish film maker on his way home.
Screening at mac at 8pm on Friday 25th November, United Sates of Love / Zjednoczone Stany Miłości is rated certificate 15. For direct info and online ticket sales, click here.
Son of Saul @ mac 27.11.16
A directorial debut, Son of Saul is the story of one man’s determination/obsession to bury the body of a young Jewish boy in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Saul Ausländer, played by Géza Röhrig, is a Hungarian Jew and member of the Sonderkommando work force at Aushwitz – one of the teams of prisoners forced to clear away the bodies, and valuables, from the gas chambers. Exploring morality, camaraderie, family, fear, hope, and the absurd battle for survival amidst the horrors of Hitler’s Final Solution, Son of Saul is a brutal look at the nightmare reality that destroyed countless of lives in Poland and beyond.
The first feature length film from Hungarian director László Nemes, who is currently working on his follow up (working tile Sunset) – Son of Saul won the Grand Prix, FIPRESCI Competition Award and François Chalais Prize at Cannes 2015. Son of Saul was further awarded the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film (2015), Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film (2015) and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2016). Kind of a ‘must see’, even if it hurts to watch.
Screening at mac on Sunday 27th November, Son of Saul is rated certificate 15. For direct info and online ticket sales, click here.
On Friday 18th November, the Behind the Curtain Film Festival opens at Centrala Café & Gallery in Minerva Works – with a programme of film, music, discussions and workshops being held in venues across the city until Sunday 27th November. For direct programme info and online ticket sales, click here.
For more on Behind the Curtain Film Festival, visit www.behindthecurtainfestival.uk
For more from Centrala, visit www.centrala-space.org.uk
For more from the Polish Expats Association/Barka, visit www.barkauk.org