The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Neither/Nor, True/False’s annual exploration of “chimeric” cinema, i.e. filmmaking that contains elements of fiction and nonfiction.
In each edition, a visiting critic curates a slate of films which will be screened at Ragtag Cinema the week of the festival. All Neither/Nor screenings are free. If you have questions about the series, check out the ticketing details here, or feel free to email Chris Boeckmann at [email protected].
Revisit past Neither/Nor series via the online versions of the monographs:
2015 Monograph – In which Ela Bittencourt guides us through chimeric Polish cinema of the 70s, 80s and 90s.
2014 Monograph – In which Godfrey Cheshire introduces us to the self-reflexive Iranian cinema of the 1990s.
2013 Monograph – In which Eric Hynes explores the chimeras of New York City in the ’60s.
The 2015 Neither/Nor guest critic curator was Ela Bittencourt; the line-up featured chimeric Polish cinema of the 70s, 80s and 90s:
Anything Can Happen (shorts), Various directors; 98 min, Q&A with cinematographer Jacek Petrycki
Friday, Mar 6 / 8:00PM / Big Ragtag
Sunday, Mar 8 / 10:15AM / Big Ragtag
As a filmmaker working in the communist Polish People’s Republic (1944-1989), Marcel Łoziński found many ways to cleverly, subversively criticize his government. Sometimes the line between clever and devious was thin. In the 1990s, as his country transitioned to democracy and overt censorship faded away, Łoziński created three of his most intimate, poignant and reflexive films. “89mm from Europe” (dir. Marcel Łoziński, 1993, 11 min.) profoundly observes a ritual at the border of Europe and the Soviet Union. In “Anything Can Happen” (dir. Marcel Łoziński, 1995, 39 min.), Łoziński’s young son approaches older strangers in a park and asks them a series of simple but tough questions. Finally, in “So It Doesn’t Hurt” (dir. Marcel Łoziński, 1998, 47 min.), Łoziński revisits one of his past documentary subjects, this time using a gentler, observational approach.
Arena of Life (shorts), Various directors; 75 min, Q&A with director Bogdan Dziworski
Wednesday, Mar 4 / 7:00PM / Big Ragtag
Saturday, Mar 7 / 12:30PM / Forrest Theater
Famous for both his cinematography (see Through and Through) and still photography (check out his exhibit at Uprise Bakery), Bogdan Dziworski is one of Poland’s most imaginative visual artists. In this shorts program, we focus on the spectacular, unconventional profile films he directed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “Arena of Life” (dir. Bogdan Dziworski, 1979, 20 min.) takes us behind the scenes of a circus, as performers tirelessly put on a show. “Biathlon” (dir. Bogdan Dziworski, 1978, 11 min) ogles professional skiers as they triumphantly shoot out into the sky and then crash to the ground. The masterpiece “A Few Stories About a Man” (dir. Bogdan Dziworski, 1983, 20 min) introduces us to Jerzy Orlowski, an agile, armless man, and shows us how he dives, draws, skis and, yes, urinates. In the melancholic, whimsical “Szapito” (dir. Bogdan Dziworski, 1984, 29 min), Dziworski revisits the circus and observes older performers as they struggle to nail their acts. Co-presented by Wytwórnia Filmów Oświatowych (WFO)
The Case of Pekosiński, Various directors; 100 min., Q&A with director Grzegorz Królikiewicz
Friday, Mar 6 / 2:45PM / Big Ragtag
“Who am I, truly?” Shortly after Bronek Pekosiński was born, his mother threw him over a fence onto a pile of potatoes. He never learned her name; she was on her way to a concentration camp. He grows up and becomes a Polish chess master. As his reputation grows, the communist government takes advantage of his mysterious biography, turning him into a poster child for the State. It’s the early 1990s, and Pekosiński is nearing the end of his life. He is in awful shape: partly paralyzed, drunk, suffering from amnesia. Director Grzegorz Królikiewicz (Through and Through) tracks down Pekosiński and convinces him to star in his own biopic. Pekosiński plays himself in every period of life, from infancy to the present day, in this astonishing experiment.
Hear My Cry (shorts), Various directors; 80min., Q&A with editor Dorota Wardęszkiewicz
Friday, Mar 6 / 11:30AM / The Globe
Sunday, Mar 8 / 3:30PM / Big Ragtag
In 1968, several months before Czech student Jan Palach set himself on fire and sent shock waves throughout the world, a Polish man named Ryszard Siwiec committed self-immolation at a Warsaw harvest festival. The event was barely reported and then quickly forgotten. After the Polish People’s Republic dissolves in 1989, first-time director Drygas (who, because of censorship, almost gave up on filmmaking during the communist era) attempts to rectify this by interviewing spectators and Siwiec’s family. He discovers an astounding, heartbreaking story. Plays with “Wanda Gościmska. … A Weaver” (dir. Wojciech Wiszniewski, 1975, 21 min.) and “Carpenter” (dir. Wojciech Wiszniewski, 1976, 14 min.), two masterpieces from the late Wiszniewski, a director who creates shocking, subversive profiles of former communist role models.
How to Live, Various directors; 94min., Q&A with cinematographer Jacek Petrycki
Thursday, Mar 5 / 5:30PM / Big Ragtag
In 1976, young Polish families are flocking to an idyllic, government-sponsored summer camp. The purpose of the camp is to instill communist values in the families. Over nine days, the newlyweds partake in a series of drills involving singing, marching and role-playing. After several days of inane exercises, camp leaders introduce a contest, which brings out the worst in everyone. How to Live is the amusing, cunning feature debut of Marcel Łoziński, Polish documentary’s arch-provocateur, who slyly embedded four of his friends in the camp. After it was finished, the film was banned. Plays with “Front Collision” (Marcel Łoziński, 1975, 11 min.) On the verge of retirement, an exemplary train conductor makes an unfortunate mistake that costs him his reputation and his retirement ceremony.
Through and Through, Various directors; 90min., Q&A with director Grzegorz Królikiewicz
Thursday, Mar 5 / 8:00PM / Big Ragtag
Saturday, Mar 7 / 3:30PM / Big Ragtag
In his feature-length debut, Grzegorz Królikiewicz casts Franciszek Trzeciak and Anna Nieborowska as Jan and Maria Malisz, a struggling married couple that, out of desperation, commits a heinous crime. When they’re put on trial, we discover just how much they love one another. While Through and Through is ostensibly a work of fiction, there’s documentary in its blood: the film’s famous opening party sequence is essentially documentary footage, and the film is based on a real crime. In its extended courtroom scenes, Franciszek and Anna sit in the same benches as the Malisz couple once did, and Królikiewicz turns the situation into a psychodrama, grilling Franciszek and Anna with a series of tough personal questions. Plays with “The Rat Catcher” (Andrzej Czarnecki, 1986, 20 min), an eerie profile of a rat exterminator who reveals his secrets.