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100 Years of Polish Cinema (1995)

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The British Film Institute commissioned Krzysztof Kieslowski to make a documentary celebrating the centenary of cinema, and the latter passed the task onto his assistant at the time, Pawel Lozinski.

“He didn’t want to deprive young Polish film makers of the artistic and financial opportunity,” says Lozinski.
Kieslowski came up with the main concept, which was to give voice to the patrons themselves, the viewers, who perceive films as a part of their own lives.

Lozinski brings back scenes from old Polish films and observes the animated faces of audiences as they are walking down memory lane.
From the oldest viewers, who still remember shedding a tear at the pre-war drama Leper or having a giggle at comedies with Adolf Dymsza, the camera moves to younger audiences, for whom the most profound cinematic experiences were such films as Ashes and Diamonds, Life of Matthew, or Blind Chance.

This sketch-like subjective history of the Polish film makes one realize how attached the viewers are to their home cinema. But it also shows that the audience either dumbs down or grows wiser together with cinema. Indeed, we can observe its changing role – from the pre-war kitsch, through mature and thoughtful cinema of 1956-1981, to the Polish commerce of the ’90s aping American thrillers and aiming at the lowest common denominator.

The final word – about a film of his dream – belongs to a child, Tomek, the director’s little brother.
“He’s the one who made this film. We filmed that extra scene because we didn’t have an ending. We didn’t want to end it with a girl who dreamed of becoming Boguslaw Linda’s lover. Cinema can’t be that dumb.”

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