70 Years of Polish Animation

The extraordinary history of animation in post-war Poland is celebrated in this program of masterworks and prize-winners, organized with the assistance of the Polish Film Institute, the Polish National Film Archive (FINA), and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

By the early 1960s, Poland had become a world leader in the production of artist-driven, often daringly experimental animation, with a signature style — the “Polish School” — that combined a certain Polish pessimism, rooted in the country’s historical and political circumstances, with a remarkable visual creativity rooted in Poland's rich tradition of graphic design.

The program includes Once Upon a Time… (1957), a seminal work by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, innovators whose surrealist, absurdist films greatly influenced the golden age of Polish animation in the 1960s; Tango (1980), the startling, Oscar-winning short by Zbigniew Rybczyński; and important landmarks by such leading figures as Mirosław Kijowicz, Daniel Szczechura, Ryszard Czekała, Jerzy Kucia, Witold Giersz, and others.

“Film critics and audiences agree — the seventy-year history of Polish animated film is full of mini masterpieces. Polish animation is synonymous with artistic craftsmanship and mastery and the titles that can be found in this selection have for many years been conquering world festivals and been an inspiration for artists throughout the world. Nothing highlighted the absurd reality of communist Poland more accurately than the animated films of the 1950s through to the 1970s. Metaphors and nonsensical humour easily passed the censors. The concise language of images needs no comment because it creates its own language.

Since its golden era of the 1960s, animated cinema has consistently been one of the flagships of Polish culture abroad. Presented here are the most famous award-winning titles, groundbreaking works which have permanently etched themselves into the canon of animation films. I invite you to discover Polish animation on the occasion of the jubilee celebrating 70 years of Polish animated film.” — Magdalena Sroka, Director of the Polish Film Institute

Once Upon a Time… | Był sobie raz… Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica/1957. 19 min.
Red and Black | Czerwone i czarne Witold Giersz/1963. 6 min.
Sweet Rhythms | Słodkie rytmy Kazimierz Urbański/1965. 7 min.
The Flag | Sztandar Mirosław Kijowicz/1965. 7 min.
The Voyage | Podróż Daniel Szczechura/1970. 7 min.
Son | Syn Ryszard Czekała/1970. 10 min.
A Hard-Core Engaged Film. Non-Camera | Ostry film zaangażowany non camera Julian Józef Antonisz/1979. 8 min.
Tango | Tango Zbigniew Rybczyński/1980. 8 min.
Solo in a Fallow Field | Solo na ugorze Jerzy Kalina/1981. 7 min.
Splinters | Odpryski Jerzy Kucia/1984. 10 min.