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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:10 am 
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posto wrote:
Did she say why they halted it?


Other priorities - such as a big digitisation programme that I imagine is sucking a fair chunk of their budget.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:04 am 
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At any rate, thirteen multi-disc archival volumes of meticulously researched and beautifully presented Polish documentary filmmaking is probably thirteen more than any of us could have reasonably expected: they've really done that particular tradition proud. Bravo!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:31 am 
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...and in completely bilingual editions too (with French, German and Russian subtitles thrown in as well). The booklets themselves have been worth their weight in gold, as few people have bothered writing about Polish documentaries in any particular detail until now.

Which of course is one of the reasons the entire movement is so undeservedly neglected outside Poland, despite a handful of honourable efforts at stimulating interest - Lindsay Anderson being the first. In fact, my former colleague Christophe Dupin, co-author of the forthcoming official history of the BFI, recently passed on copies of correspondence between Anderson and various official Polish bodies in 1957/58, in the run-up to the fourth Free Cinema programme ('Polish Voices'), which confirmed my suspicions that the decision to run an all-Polish programme was pretty much entirely Anderson's - he discovered Andrzej Wajda's first two features at the same time in mid-1957, and was so bowled over by them that he was clearly compelled to explore further.

Christophe also got hold of a copy of the original Polish Voices programme notes - unsigned but obviously Anderson's work: the combative tone with which the author compares the COI unfavourably with Kazimierz Karabasz and Włodzimierz Borowik is unmistakable. In fact, wasn't it at around this time that he got fired by the New Statesman for drawing similar comparisons between Wajda and David Lean?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:46 pm 
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Which makes me wonder - has Anderson's Polish film The Singing Lesson ever been made available on DVD? (Or is it waiting for an eventual White Bus / About the White Bus release?)

Further to the praise for these releases, Michael's dead right about the available writing on these figures. Even with the big names (Kieslowski, Munk), the documentary output tended to get short shrift, and there are a number of major filmmakers I'd never have even heard of if not for blind-buying these releases. Whoever heard of Wojciech Wiszniewski? And maybe more to the point, how exactly does everybody miss a filmmaker that distinctive and original?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:57 pm 
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Two more documentaries by Marcel Łoziński are streaming free till May 2nd - and this time they're not included on PWA's Łoziński compilation.

If you only have time for just one, make it the marvellous Poste Restante (2008), a tribute to the GPO Film Unit (a major influence on the Polish documentary movement as a whole) that delves into metaphysical areas that John Grierson never dreamed of - but the feature-length How It's Done, about a sinister PR guru who claims to be able to turn anyone into a plausible politician, is well worth a look too. Hopefully the subtitles will be the same super-erudite ones that accompanied the Polish DVD release, adding much-needed context (for non-Poles) as well as a translation.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:36 am 
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This is more to highlight the fact that PWA/NiNA are still producing DVDs than anything else, but I recently bought Made in Poland - not the Przemysław Wojciechowski tribute to Alan Clarke (which is out on an English-friendly DVD on a different label) but a triple-disc collection of performances of Polish contemporary classical music.

Or rather, it's a 'triple disc collection' in the most literal sense, but in fact discs one and two are identical aside from resolution (one being a DVD, the other a Blu-ray), while disc three is a 3-D Blu-ray. But unless you can actually play it in 3-D, it's redundant - although it played perfectly well on my 2-D system, it only offered 3-D versions of two of the performances that were already on the first two discs.

There's no spoken content on the discs (which consist entirely of filmed performance footage), and the booklet is the usual Polish/English bilingual effort, with detailed notes on individual works and composers plus a couple of philosophical essays about 3-D that seem to have no particular relevance to the disc contents.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:58 pm 
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I found interesting DVD set - Oblicza Polskiego Filmu Dokumentalnego "Faces of Polish Documentary Movie" - 9 movies (30 min to 103 min. long) all of them recent - 2008 to 2011. I haven't seen any of them. This set is highly recommended on polish language websites.
I read that there are 3 double sided disks, Polish and English subtitles are available according to one review - but I can't confirm it.
It is available on Merlin.
This isn't PWA release but I thought this would be a good place to post it.

Here is a list:
1. "Lekarze" ("Doctors") reż. Tomasz Wolski, Polska 2011, 82 min
2. "Poza zasięgiem" ("Beyond reach") reż. Jakub Stożek, Polska 2010, 30 min
3. "Kołysanka z Pnom Penh" (Lullaby from Phnom Penh") reż. Paweł Kloc, Polska 2011, 103 min
4. "Koniec Rosji" ("The end of Russia") reż. Michał Marczak, Polska 2009, 72 min
5. "Deklaracja nieśmiertelności" ("Declaration of immortality") reż. Marcin Koszałka, Polska 2010, 31 min
6. "Na niebie na ziemi" ("In heaven on earth") reż. Maciej Cuske, Polska 2008, 62 min
7. "Cudze listy" ("Other people letters") reż. Maciej Drygas, Polska 2011, 55 min
8. "Argentyńska lekcja" ("Argentinian lesson") reż. Wojciech Staroń, Polska 2011, 56 min
9. "Paparazzi" reż. Piotr Bernaś, Polska 2011, 33 min

Has anybody seen any of these movies?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:40 am 
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Wow - that's a real find. And I'd buy it for the Wolski and Drygas titles alone - I haven't seen them, but neither filmmaker has let me down yet.

Handily, I was about to place a Merlin order anyway (Wojciech Smarzowski's reportedly superb Róża is just about to come out on Blu-ray), so I'll investigate and report back.

UPDATE: If this piece is at all accurate - and given the quality of Drygas' earlier work, there's no reason to doubt it - then it may well be worth buying just for that.

Quote:
In his new film Violated Letters (Cudze Listy, 2011), Polish filmmaker Maciej Drygas reopens these archives with the forensic eye and patience of an archaeologist, revealing piece by piece the bones of a huge infrastructure of distrust lain dormant beneath Polish society for two decades.

The film reveals the frantic activities of Poland’s post censors, who intercepted tens of millions of letters annually, in massive violation of the constitutional right to privacy. Private letters seized by the secret service – bitter jokes to friends, worried nagging from distant mothers, pleas from children to the citizen president – are read out alongside archive footage (from a range of Polish repositories) of youth parades, hospital maternity units and workers eating their lunch, all evidence of the everyday in socialist Poland between the 1950s and 1989. The tone hovers between the observational and the invasive, suggestive of the fine line between observational creativity and surveillance. The sum effect is to insinuate the private temper of a population, a collective unconscious, while also revealing a government so insecure it treated even the most banal of complaints as treason.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:18 pm 
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I couldn't help myself and ordered it yesterday - but it will be weeks before I'll get it (judging from previous very lengthy shipping times to US).
Yes, Drygas' PWA set is great.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:22 pm 
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I've ordered it too - but because Róża isn't out for another three weeks I probably won't see it for a month or so.

But I'll report back when it arrives.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:54 pm 
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Quote:
In his new film Violated Letters (Cudze Listy, 2011), Polish filmmaker Maciej Drygas reopens these archives with the forensic eye and patience of an archaeologist, revealing piece by piece the bones of a huge infrastructure of distrust lain dormant beneath Polish society for two decades.

The film reveals the frantic activities of Poland’s post censors, who intercepted tens of millions of letters annually, in massive violation of the constitutional right to privacy. Private letters seized by the secret service – bitter jokes to friends, worried nagging from distant mothers, pleas from children to the citizen president – are read out alongside archive footage (from a range of Polish repositories) of youth parades, hospital maternity units and workers eating their lunch, all evidence of the everyday in socialist Poland between the 1950s and 1989. The tone hovers between the observational and the invasive, suggestive of the fine line between observational creativity and surveillance. The sum effect is to insinuate the private temper of a population, a collective unconscious, while also revealing a government so insecure it treated even the most banal of complaints as treason.

I'd like to see "Violated Letters" in particular. When I was in high school in Poland I worked part-time for the Post Office for a few days just before Christmas (it was 1982 or 83). Once or twice we delivered and picked-up truck-load of bags full of mail to the police headquarters in Krakow. Sheer amount of mail amazed me, and the fact that they would bother with censoring them. Who was doing this? how many people? This pre-Patriot act, low-tech snitching was surreal. They even stamped every piece of mail "censored" or something like that.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:21 am 
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I don't know if this is because I have an unusually favourable exchange rate with Poland right now, but the documentaries set came to just £16 (or €20/$25), which is a bit of a bargain for nine films, especially given that several are feature length. (Obviously, there's delivery on top of that, but I did what I usually do with Merlin and ordered loads of things - including the Aleksander Ford box - to reduce it on a per-item basis).

I've done a bit of digging and discovered that I've also seen an outstanding earlier film by Marcin Koszałka (Such a Beautiful Boy I Gave Birth To/Takiego pięknego syna urodziłam, 1999), while Wolski's made several terrific documentaries, including the delightful Alan Bennettesque The Lucky Ones/Szczęściarze (2009), which won second prize in a documentary competition whose jury I sat on.

Its president, incidentally, was Drygas - and I can't tell you how frustrating it was not to have a fluent common language: we'd have lunch and dinner together on a daily basis for the better part of a week, but wouldn't be able to converse in more than extremely broken English and Polish (he also speaks fluent Russian thanks to his time at VGIK in Moscow, but that wasn't any use to me). I don't think he was working on this project at the time: he'd just got back from one of many trips to Sudan, which he also mentions in this interview - in which he also discusses Other People's Letters and suggests that it'll be his last film about communist Poland.

(If I remember rightly, the Sudanese project was about how the lives of villagers are being transformed by the construction of a dam - but emphatically not for the better, despite the official propaganda. But take that with a pinch of salt, as I didn't have an interpreter with me!)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:04 am 
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OK, Oblicza polskiego filmu dokumentalnego has arrived, and despite initial trepidation arising from the fact that there's no mention of subtitles on the box, I'm delighted to confirm that it IS English-friendly, including bilingual menus.

More later, when I've had a chance to watch the films.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:59 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:27 pm
Is there a contact email for merlin.pl? I placed my first order the first week of February, but it hasn't arrived it. How long does it normally take to ship to the US?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:51 am 
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Has your order actually shipped (you should have had a confirmation email)?

If not, it may be because a single item in your order isn't in stock - I've had big delays for that reason.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:27 pm
I believe it shipped. I received this email:

Zapraszamy po odbiór zamówienia nr 9105143.
Zamówienie z przesyłką: przesylka pocztowa ekonomiczna zostało nadane dn. 05-02-2013 na adres

Google roughly translates that into:

We invite you to collect your order # 9105143.
Order delivery: parcel post was given dn economy. 05-02-2013 to the following address

There's also a tracking number under the order in "my account" page on merlin.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:11 pm 
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Much to my surprise (and delight), it seems that a fourteenth volume in the Polish Documentary series quietly crept out almost exactly a month ago, devoted to Marcin Koszałka - who's probably best known for his startling debut Such a Beautiful Boy I Gave Birth To, which was included on the DVD accompanying the book Polish Cinema Now!.

I shall investigate further.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:18 pm 
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Fantastic news. For the record, this set is not (yet) available from Merlin, or at least the director's name doesn't yield any results.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:53 am 
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Empik have it - and the exchange rate with the pound is pretty good right now, so I've just ordered thirteen DVDs, two multi-disc boxes and three Blu-rays for the equivalent of £135 including shipping.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:55 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
Empik have it - and the exchange rate with the pound is pretty good right now, so I've just ordered thirteen DVDs, two multi-disc boxes and three Blu-rays for the equivalent of £135 including shipping.

I had a terrible experience with Empik the only previous time I ordered from them (the shipment never arrived and it took months to wheedle a refund out of them, most of which was trying to get them to respond to, and then understand, my questions), so I think I'll hold out for Merlin.

(But please do tell us what else you ordered!)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:04 pm 
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Punkt44 have it too. I recently placed an order there (because I couldn't find the PWA sets I wanted from Merlin) and had no issues.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:06 pm 
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The Blu-rays were Wajda's Man of Marble and Iron and Ryszard Bugajski's The Closed Circuit, and the DVDs were mostly very recent titles that I haven't seen yet - plus another feature-length documentary by Marcin Koszałka. Oh, and the Wajda box from Telewizja Kinopolska which, annoyingly, seems to be the only way to see Rough Treatment/Without Anaesthetic with English subtitles.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:33 pm 
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I spent much of last week in Poland, where I heard from an impeccably well-placed source that there'll be another Polish documentary set before too long, this time devoted to Andrzej Titkow.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 7:27 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
I spent much of last week in Poland, where I heard from an impeccably well-placed source that there'll be another Polish documentary set before too long, this time devoted to Andrzej Titkow.

...and it's being released this week.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:35 pm 
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Volume sixteen in the ongoing Polish School of the Documentary series is devoted to Bogdan Dziworski.

Contents:

The Cross and the Axe (Krzyż i topór, 1972, 14 mins)
Georg Philipp Telemann's Travels from Żary to Pszczyna (Podróże Georga Telemanna z Żar do Pszczyny, 1974, 14 mins)
Ice Hockey ( Hokej 1976, 12 mins)
Classic Biathlon (Dwubój klasyczny, 1978, 11 mins)
The Arena of Life (Arena życia, 1979, 20 mins)
The Fencer ( Fechmistrz , 1980, 12 mins)
Ski Scenes with Franz Klammer (Sceny narciarskie z Franzem Klammerem, 1980, 21 mins)
A Few Stories about Man (Kilka opowieści o człowieku, 1983, 20 mins)
Szapito (1984, 29 mins)
Plus Minus or Fly Trips to the East (Plus minus czyli podróże muchy na Wschód, 2015, 35 mins)
Andrew Warchola, My Factory (Andrew Warchola, moja fabryka)


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