Classic Polish Films x Scorsese

By Filip Terlecki

Martin Scorsese is not only a great filmmaker but he’s also a great champion of film.

Martin-Scorsese-Taxi-DriverThrough his work as a director on films like Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Casino he has enlightened us with some of the most striking character studies and most memorable images captured on film.

And despite his age (71) he continues to be a relevant filmmaker who makes films that capture and interpret our modern time. One only has to watch the Best Picture Oscar nominated The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) to see that the director is still at the top of his game.

The ironic thing about filmmaking is that for some directors making films actually means seeing less of them. It’s such a time demanding profession that many filmmakers don’t have the time, or simply choose, not to watch them.

This does not apply to Martin Scorsese.

Since childhood he had always been fascinated by cinema and the people that make it. And driven by this passion he has made it his mission to bring world cinema to the masses.


Through his work with The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving motion pictures, he has helped to save over 600 motion pictures.

He has restored seemingly lost classics, brought back forgotten masterpieces and shined a spotlight on international films that audiences might otherwise not see.

Such is the case with Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema – a touring showcase of 21 classic films from one of the world’s richest national cinemas, presented in stunning new digital restorations.

At the heart of the retrospective is director Andrzej Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds (1958) which Scorsese has cited among  his top 10 films of all time.

Here Scorsese provides some insight into the programme…

Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema screens at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 5 to July 1, 2014.

Director Krzysztof Zanussi appears in person to introduce his film The Constant Factor on Friday, June 13 at 8:45 p.m.

All films are in Polish with English subtitles. All prints are new digital restorations.

For a full schedule and tickets visit the TIFF website. 

Here are a few of the films that caught our eye…

To Kill This Love 

(June 21)

Two young lovers contend with the corrosive cynicism and corruption of 1970s socialist society, in this deceptively small-scale comedy-drama from director Janusz Morgenstern.

This Love Must Be Killed (Trzeba zabić tę miłość) – Trailer 30s from KinoRP on Vimeo.


(June 22)

The young, strong-willed pharaoh Ramses XIII battles against the powerful priests who have usurped command of the kingdom, in this monumental Academy Award-nominated historical epic from director Jerzy Kawalerowicz.

Pharaoh (Faraon) – Trailer 30s from KinoRP on Vimeo.


(June 15)

A strange man (Zbigniew Cybulski) jumps from a train into an even stranger town, in this hallucinatory allegory by novelist, screenwriter and director Tadeusz Konwicki.

Somersault (Salto) – Trailer 30s from KinoRP on Vimeo.

The Constant Factor introduced by Krzysztof Zanussi 

(June 13)

One of the towering figures of postwar Polish cinema, filmmaker and scholar Krzysztof Zanussi joins us to introduce his brilliant moral tale, which won the Prix du Jury at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

Constant Factor (Constans) – Trailer 30s from KinoRP on Vimeo.

The Saragossa Manuscript

(June 27)

Beloved of Luis Buñuel, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, this head-spinning tapestry of madly intertwining tales is a ceaselessly entertaining exemplar of cinema delirium.

Saragossa Manuscript (Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie) – Trailer 60s from KinoRP on Vimeo.

 Mother Joan of the Angels

(June 21)

A devout, unworldly young priest attempts to exorcise a nun who claims to be possessed by demons, in Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s strikingly designed and feverishly intense spiritual drama.

Mother Joan of Angels (Matka Joanna od Aniołów) – Trailer 30s from KinoRP on Vimeo.

A Short Film About Killing

(July 1)

Winner of the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s darkly disturbing disquisition on murder both random and sanctioned helped launch the director’s international career.

Short Film About Killing (Krótki film o zabijaniu) – Trailer 60s from KinoRP on Vimeo.

Man of Iron

(June 10)

Winner of the Palme d’Or and one of the most critically lauded Polish films of the 1980s, Andrzej Wajda’s sequel to his 1977 Man of Marble brings that film’s allegorical portrait of Poland’s Stalinist past into the post-Stalinist present.

Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza) – Trailer from KinoRP on Vimeo.

[like] [tweets]