Polish Films at the 54th BFI London Film Festival

"The Magic Tree", dir. Andrzej Maleszka

"Essential Killing", dir. Jerzy Skolimowski

The Magic Tree
16 October, 12.45 pm
BFI Southbank
Belvedere Road
SE1 8XT, London

Essential Killing
27 October, 12.30 pm and 18.15
Vue Cinema West End
3 Cranbourn Street
Leicester Square
WC2H 7AL, London


Tickets and how to book


The Magic Tree, (Magiczne Drzewo), dir. Andrzej Maleszka, Poland 2009, 90 min

A large, magical oak tree falls down during a storm and is used to make a variety of different items of furniture. One such item, a chair, appears to select its new owners, a happy family of fine musicians who discover its magic, wish-fulfilling potential. At first, the wishes are used for unlimited fun, including all-you-can-eat pizza, games and other larks, but mayhem quickly follows and, as they begin to wish for things to return to normal, the chair goes missing. When their mean, child-taunting Aunt sits on the chair and unwittingly wishes the children’s parents away for 12 months, leaving herself as their sole guardian, things go from bad to worse. When a criminal gang realise the value of the magic chair, the children are forced into drastic action. The Magic Tree is a fun, contemporary twist on the Eastern European tradition of fine fairy tales and provides enough comedy and action to appeal to a broad family audience.

Director: Andrzej Maleszka
Screenwriter: Andrzej Maleszka
Cast: Adam Szczegota, Filip Fabis, Maja Tomawaska, Joanna Zietarska, Hanna Sleszynska


Essential Killing, dir. Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland-Norway-Ireland-Hungary 2010, 83 min

Captured in Afghanistan by US forces, Mohammed (Vincent Gallo), a member of the Taliban, is subject to interrogation and rendition. In the course of his journey through an unnamed European country, he escapes across a snow-covered landscape, where he attempts to live off the land, eventually having his wounds tended by a deaf and mute woman (Emmanuelle Seigner). Essential Killing confirms the authority of Jerzy Skolimowski's return to feature direction with an allegorical tale amplified by striking mise-en-scène and a compelling music score. Virtually without dialogue, its simple and in some ways traditional narrative recalls The Fugitive - but transformed through imaginative cinematography (by Adam Sikora, who photographed Skolimowski's Four Nights with Anna), clever use of natural imagery, and perfect timing. In a sense, the fact that Gallo is a Taliban is irrelevant, but Skolimowski reminds us that one side in a conflict does not hold a prerogative on human feeling and experience.

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Screenwriter: Jerzy Skolimowki, Ewa Piaskowska
Cast: Vincent Gallo, Emanuelle Seigner,


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