A symposium on the aesthetics of Krzysztof Kieślowski, one of the standard-bearers of the European arthouse cinema from the 1970s to the 1990s, curated by the Polish Institute and photogénie, and organized by VDFC in cooperation with the University of Antwerp and Cinema Zuid. During this day-long conference, Kieślowski's oeuvre is examined through lectures by film scholars Joe Kickasola (US), Mikolaj Jazdon (PL), Pascal Vandelanoitte and Kris Van Heuckelom.
10u30 – Welcome & Intro
10u45 – “When Description Fails: Kieślowski’s Stylistic Evolution” – Joseph G. Kickasola
12u15 – Lunch Break
14u00 – “From ‘the Dramaturgy of Reality’ to ‘the Dramaturgy of Idea’. Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Concepts of Documentary Filmmaking” – Mikołaj Jazdon
14u45 – “Kieslowski’s Decalogue: the Gaze as Encounter” – Pascal Vandelanoitte
15u45 – Coffee Break
16u00 – “Krzysztof Kieślowski as a Transnational Director: Three Colors: White and the Cinematic Border Crossing of Polish Masculinities” – Kris Van Heuckelom
17u00 – End
When Description Fails: Kieślowski’s Stylistic Evolution
This address will detail the evolution of Kieślowski’s filmmaking style, from a committed naturalism/realism in his early features, to a probing formalism in his later features. Throughout, Kieślowski’s concern for “reality” will be traced; that is, how his idealistic conception of that notion remained relatively stable throughout his career, but his struggle to approach it through the cinematic medium necessitated dramatic stylistic experimentation. What we have in here is a cinematic outworking of a philosophical problem: how to understand the inner life of humans, in dynamic interplay with the mysteries of existence .
Prof. Joseph G. Kickasola (Baylor University, New York) is Professor of Film and Digital Media and the Director of the Baylor New York program. He is the author of the award winning book The Films of Krzysztof Kieślowski: The Liminal Image, and has published in numerous academic anthologies and journals, including Film Quarterly, The Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and the Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film.
From ‘the Dramaturgy of Reality’ to ‘the Dramaturgy of Idea’. Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Concepts of Documentary Filmmaking.
Krzysztof Kieślowski was a devoted documentary filmmaker from the moment he started his studies in the film school in Łódź until the end of the 1980s when he made his last documentary. In the 1960s and 1970s he became one of the leading documentary filmmakers in Poland and the leader of the so-called ‘Kraków school’, the group of documentarians aiming at true to reality depictions of social life in the country from their side of the Iron Curtain. They wanted to achieve this despite the limitations of censorship. Kieślowski mastered the style of Aesopian language in short non-fiction films presenting what had been called ‘the world undescribed’ of the communist state. At the same time he managed to provide his documentaries with universal meanings that made them attractive to viewers of different time and space. Documentary filmmaking was for Kieślowski no less artistic creation than feature filmmaking. From film to film, the Polish director tested and improved various documentary methods and strategies, and wrote about them in his theoretical works. He completed his studies in the film school with a diploma thesis on ‘the dramaturgy of reality’, where he described one of the methods of factual filmmaking he intended to put into practice. Later he proposed other ways to create non-fiction films. These concepts influenced his feature filmmaking and became part and parcel of his auteur style.
Prof. Mikolaj Jazdon (Adam Mickiewicz University & Off Cinema festival, Poznan) is professor of Film, Television and New Media at AMU and Artistic Director of the International Film Festival "Off Cinema" in Poznan.
Kieslowski’s Decalogue: the Gaze as Encounter
The central characters in Kieslowski's Decalogue are mostly lonely people. Most of them suffer a deprivation of identity, since identity is mostly formed in relation to the other. Their isolation creates a relatively silent film series in which dialogues are sparse. One of the key elements Kieslowski uses to symbolise the attempts for contact with someone else, is the gaze. Where others as Sobchack have already expounded on the ‘expanded gaze’ between subject and object in the Decalogue, we want to focus on the intra-diegetic gaze of one depicted person at another. It is in their gaze towards other people that they try – most of them helplessly, fruitlessly – to surpass their lack of both a private and a public identity; to feed their search for love and meaning. This is most explicit in Decalogue 6, where a young man spies on his female neighbour with a telescope. Throughout the ten films, Kieslowski plays with the gaze, its character and framing to express both the inner world of the characters, their relation to the outside world and the shifts they undergo.
Pascal Vandelanoitte (Ph.D.) (LUCA ARTS, Brussels) lectures on Documentary Film History for DocNomads at LUCA School of Arts. His main interests are arthouse movies, Eastern European New Wave films of the sixties and seventies, and the intertextual use of pre-existent (classical) music in film.
Krzysztof Kieślowski as a Transnational Director: Three Colors: White and the Cinematic Border Crossing of Polish Masculinities
While Krzysztof Kieślowski’s first international production, The Double Life of Veronique (La double vie de Véronique, 1991),uses the trope of doubling in order to expose the various parallelisms and interferences between Eastern and Western Europe right after the fall of Communism, the second installment of the Colors trilogy (White) shifts focus to the unbalanced power relations between the affluent West and the formerly communist East. With its focus on the problematic love story of a French femme fatale and a Polish immigrant, the film foregrounds within a single narrative different, albeit interconnected forms of inequality: between a wife and her emasculated husband, between France and Poland, between Western Europe and the former Eastern Bloc. In order to shed some more light on the changing dynamics between East and West in post-1989 European film, the thrust of this paper is to discuss the cinematic border crossing of Polish masculinities throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with particular attention to Kieślowski’s position as a transnational filmmaker.
Prof. Kris Van Heuckelom (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is professor of Polish Linguistics and Literature. Previously, he held research positions at the University of Warsaw and the University of Chicago. He is the author of Polish Literature in Transformation (2013, in collaboration with Ursula Phillips and Knut Andreas Grimstadt) and European Cinema after the Wall. Screening East-West Mobility (2014, coedited with Leen Engelen).
The symposium will be held in English.
April 22, 2016 - 10:30
Cinema Zuid, Antwerp, Belgium
Registration required: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission is free.
The symposium is part of the Krzysztof Kieślowski retrospective organized by Cinema Zuid and the Polish Institute. More info: www.cinemazuid.be
An initiative of the Polish Institute and Vlaamse Dienst voor Filmcultuur vzw.
With the support of Flanders Audiovisual Fund.