Picturing Labor in the Work of Krzysztof Kieślowski
Polish Movie Nite is happy to present two films by Krzysztof Kieślowski, the documentary short "The Office" (1966), and the feature-length film Camera Buff (1979). Media art historian Erica Levin will introduce the films, analyzing the complex politics and strategies of picturing labor in Polish cinema.
Upon graduating from Łódź Film School in 1965, Kieślowski focused almost exclusively on documentaries. "The Office" portrays the intense bureaucracy that existed in Polish government services at the time. Pensioners, lined up at a social security office, are one by one turned away for various procedural violations. One request is denied because the applicant has too many identifying documents, and she is told to acquire an official nullification of one of the redundant papers. An elderly man encounters difficulty because a document was stamped with a square seal, rather than a round one.
Frustrated by harsh governmental censorship, Kieślowski abandoned the documentary form in the mid-1970s. Still, he often employed a documentary style and non-actors in his feature films, portraying everyday life under the weight of an oppressive system. Camera Buff tells the story of Filip Mosz (played by Jerzy Stuhr), a humble factory worker whose newfound hobby - amateur film - becomes an obsession that transforms his modest, and formerly happy, life. Exploring the repression of individuality in Communist Poland, the film focuses on the ethical choices faced by a single person. Camera Buff won the grand prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.
Erica Levin is an art historian and film theorist currently working on her dissertation at UC Berkeley about politics, temporality, and the news in media art of the 1960s. She earned her MA at UC Berkeley, and her BA at Wesleyan University. She has taught courses on urban modernity, visual culture in the atomic age, experimental film, war and cinema, art criticism, and contemporary art.
"Urząd" / "The Office"
5 minutes, black and white
Amator / Camera Buff
117 minutes, color
April 27, 2011
Polish Club of San Francisco
3040 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Special appreciation goes to Maureen Mroczek Morris, and to Krol Vodka and Trumer Pils, for their ongoing support. Additional thanks go to Jeremi Sudol for his assistance in the preparation of this event.