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Polish provocations

FilmPolska (Apr 25-May 2) returns with its most daring line-up to date.

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Mug (Twarz)

FilmPolska returns with its most daring line-up to date.

This 13th edition of Berlin’s Polish cinema showcase, a feast of around 75 films screening everywhere from Babylon to the Topography of Terror, suggests a country awash with cinematic rebels and pioneers.

Leading the charge are two highlights from the recent Berlinale. Malgorzata Szumowska’s Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner Mug (Twarz) is both a bitingly satirical tale of an affable metalhead who receives Poland’s first face transplant, and a compelling portrait of a society careering towards a self-made crisis.

Meanwhile Jagoda Szelc’s Tower. A Bright Day (Wieża. Jasny dzień) is an enigmatic account of an uneasy family reunion set deep in the verdant Polish countryside. With shades of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, it slowly builds towards a vivid, horror-tinged climax.

But this oppressive drama feels positively breezy compared to Playground, Bartosz M Kowalski’s harrowing account of child-on-child cruelty, seemingly inspired by the 1993 abduction of British toddler James Bulger. Formally dazzling but profoundly upsetting, it’s sure to be the festival’s biggest talking point.

There’s also a sidebar celebrating 100 years of Polish independence, and silent classics screening with live musical accompaniment.  

Apr 25-May 2, Various venues, full programme at filmpolska.de