Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema
Co-presented with the National Gallery of Art
April 24-June 29

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Valid for six admissions to any screening(s) in the Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series. Present card at box office to redeem tickets. Tickets may be redeemed singly or in any combination. No refunds. Admissions subject to seating and availability. Box office opens 30 minutes before the first film of the day.

“There are many revelations in the ‘Masterpieces of Polish Cinema’ series and whether you’re familiar with some of these films or not, it’s an incredible opportunity to discover for yourself the great power of Polish cinema, on the big screen in brilliantly restored digital masters.”
–Martin Scorsese

Milestone Films, in association with The Film Foundation, presents this series of feature films from some of Poland’s most accomplished and lauded filmmakers, spanning the period from 1957–1987. Curated by Martin Scorsese, each film has been digitally re-mastered and brilliantly restored to newly subtitled DCPs. The program was created and organized by Scorsese’s non-profit organization, The Film Foundation. All film notes courtesy of Milestone Films. All films in Polish with English subtitles except where noted. For information on films screening at the National Gallery of Art, visit

The Polish organizers of the series are Jędrzej Sabliński of DI Factory, and Jacek Sosnowski of Propaganda Foundation along with Maciej Molewski of Cyfrowe Repozytorium Filmowe. These three worked in cooperation Kino RP, Tor Studio Filmowe, Zebra Studio Filmowe and Studio Filmowe KADR. In cooperation with Janus Films. Generous support was provided by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland; the Polish Film Institute and the honorary patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC; the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ottawa; the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York; the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles; the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Montreal; the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto; and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Vancouver.

AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings.

ASHES AND DIAMONDS [Popiół i diament]

Andrzej Wajda’s early masterpiece is set on the last day of World War II and the first day of peace. And between them, a night that changes everything. In the eyes of Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski), an idealistic young Polish resistance fighter, the incipient Communist regime does not represent the hopes and dreams he and his brothers in arms have been fighting and dying for. FIPRESCI Prize, 1956 Venice Film Festival.

DIR/SCR Andrzej Wajda; SCR Jerzy Andrzejewski, from his novel. Poland, 1958, b&w, 103 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Thu, Apr 24, 7:15; Sat, Apr 26, 7:30

THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT [Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie]

In Spain during the Napoleonic Wars, two enemy officers form an uneasy truce at a deserted Saragossa inn as they pore over a mysterious book recounting the amazing tales of Alphonse van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski), a Walloon officer who came to Spain in 1739. A multitude of stories flows from the fantastical tome, variously including two Moorish princesses with their sights set on van Worden, a Cabalist, a sultan and a band of gypsies; raconteurs all, they in turn relate evermore ancient stories to van Worden about forbidden love, ghosts and magic. Championed by Luis Buñuel, The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Francis Ford Coppola, this film is a mind-blowing cinematic experience.

DIR Wojciech Has; SCR Tadeusz Kwiatkowski, from “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa” by Jan Potocki. Poland, 1965, b&w, 182 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sat, May 3, 7:15; Sun, May 4, 5:15

INNOCENT SORCERERS [Niewinni czarodzieje]

While a student in the Łódź school, Jerzy Skolimowski (having just recently co-written KNIFE IN THE WATER) co-wrote INNOCENT SORCERERS with Andrzej Wajda. A love story and a portrait of young Poles in the 1950s, this film tells the tale of two people meeting in a bar. They don’t care about the future; their lives seem to consist of going out, playing jazz and having love affairs with no strings attached. The night begins for them with a seemingly simple scenario—from small talk to bed. But as dawn approaches, what starts as an insignificant episode grows in meaning. Jazz score by Krzysztof Komeda (ROSEMARY’S BABY), who also appears in a cameo.

DIR Andrzej Wajda; SCR Jerzy Andrzejewski, Jerzy Skolimowski. Poland, 1960, b&w, 87 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sun, May 11, 9:45; Mon May 12, 7:15

THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM [Sanatorium pod Klepsydrą]

Magic, dreams, a manor in decay. THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM is one of the most original and beautiful films in Polish cinema—a visionary, artistic, poetic reflection on the nature of time and the irreversibility of death. The screenplay is an adaptation of the fantasy fiction of Jewish author Bruno Schulz, one of the most renowned Polish prose stylists of the 20th century. Reflections on the Holocaust were added to the movie, reading Schulz’s work through the prism of his death during World War II. Jury Prize, 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

DIR/SCR Wojciech Has, from “Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass” by Bruno Schulz. Poland, 1973, color, 124 min, DCP. In Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew and Latin with English subtitles. NOT RATED


Sat, May 17, 5:30


A big country wedding in 19th century Poland: people talk, drink, dance and flirt. An intellectual from a big town has come to marry a simple country girl; families and friends from both sides regard the alliance with skepticism and curiosity. Unexpectedly, something uncanny begins to permeate the celebrations. Some of the guests see mysterious ghosts, while hidden grudges, complexes and yearnings step out of the hidden corners of their souls. Andrzej Wajda’s brilliant film adaptation of Stanisław Wyspiański’s celebrated play teases out the fault lines in civil society, all set to lively country music. Silver Seashell, 1973 San Sebastian Film Festival.

DIR Andrzej Wajda; SCR Andrzej Kijowski, from the play by Stanisław Wyspiański. Poland, 1973, color, 106 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sun, May 25, 7:00; Mon, May 26, 7:00

CAMOUFLAGE [Barwy ochronne]

An ironical and absurd comedy set at a university summer school camp. The shallowness and cynicism of the academic milieu becomes apparent through the relationship between a young linguistics professor, Jaroslaw, and his diabolical senior colleague, Jakub. “All people are conformists just like you and I,” exclaims the latter, protesting against the liberal teaching approach of Jaroslaw. Krzysztof Zanussi presents the deeply troubling premise of academic conformity with witty humor. The film won three top awards at the 1977 Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, even as it was summarily banned by the Polish government.

DIR/SCR Krzysztof Zanussi. Poland, 1977, color, 100 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sun, Jun 1, 8:45; Mon, Jun 2, 9:30


A naïve and sincere young man, Witold, must come to terms with the reality of the world. He dreams of climbing the Himalayas, just as his father had done before him. His skill in mathematics earns him a job in an international trade company, but he soon finds the position grating and his progress thwarted by his own candor. Frustrations mount and personal losses grow as Witold becomes disillusioned with the world’s false choices in Krzysztof Zanussi’s powerful drama. Jury Prize and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

DIR/SCR Krzysztof Zanussi. Poland, 1980, color, 98 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sun, Jun 8, 6:00


In this classic bildungsroman, a young man from a provincial town comes to the capital to study physics, hoping that science can answer his questions. He explores the boundaries of knowledge while tackling universal life experiences—love, death, friendship, fatherhood and work. Krzysztof Zanussi’s protagonist struggles against the futility of a life constantly overshadowed by death. However, in the face of defeat, he rejects nihilism and resignation to his fate in favor of a simplistic view of life: fragile but treasured. Golden Leopard, FIPRESCI Prize and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, 1973 Locarno Film Festival.

DIR/SCR Krzysztof Zanussi. Poland, 1973, color, 92 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sun, Jun 8, 8:00; Tue, Jun 10, 9:15

MAN OF IRON [Człowiek z żelaza]

A masterful story about the limitations of the press, coupled with real footage of the Solidarity movement strikes, Andrzej Wajda’s MAN OF IRON expands on the plot of its predecessor, MAN OF MARBLE. The film examines the events leading to one of the most crucial historical events of the 20th century. The movie was produced in haste at the express wish of the shipyard workers with the use of their own archives to support the strike. It features, among others, future Nobel Prize Winner and Polish President Lech Wałęsa as himself, and captures the passion, tragedy and anxiety of the times. Palme d’Or and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, 1981 Cannes Film Festival.

DIR Andrzej Wajda; SCR Aleksander Scibor-Rylski. Poland, 1981, b&w/color, 153 min, DCP. RATED PG


Sat, Jun 14, 7:30; Sun, Jun 15, 6:15

TO KILL THIS LOVE [Trzeba zabić tę miłość]

What was it like to be young at the turn of the 1970s in communist Poland? While Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, Magda and Andrzej discover love and life in a big city. They didn’t get into to the university—quotas are restricted mainly to working class families. They are young, ambitious, dream of independence and have no means of reaching their goals without entering the mean, conformist reality surrounding them. Does the end justify the means? A love story set against the harsh backdrop of the communist regime.

DIR Janusz Morgenstern; SCR Janusz Glowacki; PROD Jerzy Buchwald. Poland, 1972, color, 92 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Tue, Jun 17, 9:20; Mon, Jun 30, 7:30

THE PROMISED LAND [Ziemia Obiecana]

“I have nothing, you have nothing, he has nothing. Taken together we have just enough to build a major factory.” Three friends—a Polish nobleman, Karol Borowiecki; a German, Max Baum; and a Jew, Moritz Welt—shrink from nothing, including treachery and fraud to build their empire. But ruthless business tactics and an ill-fated affair leave Borowiecki with a choice: either change his ways or sacrifice all compassion in order to protect his financial capital. In the footsteps of Dickens, Andrzej Wajda paints a bleak picture of 19th-century Łódź, a chaotic city littered with dangerous factories and devoid of true culture.

DIR/SCR Andrzej Wajda, from the novel by Władysław Stanisław Reymont. Poland, 1975, color, 179 min, DCP. In Polish, German, Yiddish and Russian with English subtitles. NOT RATED


Sun, Jun 29, 6:00