When Jerzy Skolimowski presented his film Four Nights With Anna in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 to general critical acclaim, 17 years had elapsed since the biggest fiasco in his career, the film adaptation of Gombrowicz’s masterpiece Ferdydurke, which Truffaut famously called “un grand film malade”.
Born in Lódz (Poland) in 1938, Skolimowski attended the prestigious film school of his hometown with the likes of Roman Polanski, whose first film A Knive in the Water he scripted.
He had his first major success with Walkover in 1965, the film that earned him general recognition and comparisons with Orson Welles, before leaving Poland for the first time.
His first work out of Poland was Le départ, filmed in Belgium, for which he was awarded the Golden Bear at he Berlin Film Festival in 1967. He moved then to London, where he was to stay for over 20 years, a period in which he made some of his best films like Deep End (1970) or Moonlighting (1982), a fascinating look on a group of low-class Polish workers in England from a very personal humorous point of view.
The critical success of Moonlighting paved the way for his incursion in American cinema with The Lightship, starring Robert Duvall and Klaus Maria Brandauer.
His adaptation of Turgeniev’s Torrents of Spring preceded his infamous take on Gombrowicz’s modernist classic Ferdydurke, a novel his own author had declared ‘unfilmable’. A 17 year hiatus followed before Four Nights With Anna reignited the interest for one of the greatest filmmakers to have emerged from Central Europe.
Skolimowski’s last film, Essential Killing, had its world premiere back in September at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Prize and the Volpi Cup as Best Actor to Vincent Gallo for his portrayal of a Taliban fighter.
Tonight, November 24 at 19:15, Jerzy Skolimowski will present Essential Killing in Brussels’ Cinematek as official kick-off for the tribute Cinematek will pay to the Polish filmmaker during the next four weeks.
For the screenings of Skolimowski’s films, check out Cinematek’s site: www.cinematek.be