Lessons of Love (2019)  courtesy of Widok.Co-presented by Museum of the Moving Image and Polish Cultural Institute New York

Docs Against Gravity NYC runs exclusively online December 9–16, 2020

New York, New York (November 19, 2020) — Few national cinemas have authored and challenged definitions of nonfiction film more persistently than Polish cinema. From Marcel Łoziński and Krzysztof Kieślowski to Anna Zamecka and Michał Marczak, the legacy of Polish nonfiction is long and consistently dynamic, led by both observational and narrative impulses, anthropological rigor and hybridized transgression. Founded nearly two decades ago, Millennium Docs Against Gravity (MDAG) has developed into the largest documentary film festival in Poland, and thus, thanks to the volume and consistently high quality of Polish nonfiction, one of the most important documentary festivals in the world. From December 9 through 16, Museum of the Moving Image and the Polish Cultural Institute New York will co-present five recent highlights from the MDAG Festival in the series Docs Against Gravity NYC. The films will be viewable exclusively online and available to audiences throughout the United States.

The films in the series are Marek Edelman...And There Was Love in the Ghetto, the final collaboration of Polish film legend Andrzej Wajda, co-directed with Jolanta Dylewska, a powerful survey of neglected tales of love and lovers in the Warsaw ghetto; Maciej Cuske’s The Whale from Lorino, a portrait of an indigenous community in remote Siberia, recovering from the heavy hand of Soviet rule; Jasmina Wojcik’s Symphony of the Ursus Factory, an ingenious and joyous act of artistic collaboration, which brings together a team of filmmakers, choreographers, and composers along with ex–factory employees to reanimate the ruins of their defunct workplace; the U.S. premiere of Pawel Ziemilski’s playful and dazzling experiment in 21st-century correspondence, In Touch; and Malgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja’s Lessons of Love, a complex and loving observational portrait of a woman’s second act after she raises six children and leaves an abusive husband. See below for full descriptions.

MoMI will also host live online discussions with participating filmmakers (to be announced).

“We’re excited and grateful to be working again with Tomek Smolarski and the Polish Cultural Institute, with whom we lately collaborated on the 2018 retrospective of Pawel Pawlikowski and a 2017 survey of Polish hybrid films,” said Eric Hynes, Curator of Film at Museum of the Moving Image. “This series serves a dual purpose of recognizing the vital work of Millennium Docs Against Gravity, an ascendant annual showcase for contemporary nonfiction, and spotlighting excellent new documentaries by Polish filmmakers, all recent standouts of the festival. The legacy of Polish nonfiction is long and consistently dynamic, and continues with these five formally diverse films.”

Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival is the largest documentary film festival in Poland. It is the only film festival in Europe that takes place in seven different cities at the same time: Warsaw, Gdynia, Wrocław, Katowice, Bydgoszcz, Lublin, and Poznan. The 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival was held earlier this year in cinemas from September 4 to 18, and online from September 19 to October 4. MDAG is a co-founder and member of the Doc Alliance network, which brings together seven key European documentary film festivals, the other six being CPH: DOX Copenhagen, DOK Leipzig, IDFF Jihlava, FID Marseille, Visions du Réel Nyon, and Doclisboa. Earlier this year, the festival was selected by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.

The films will stream exclusively on MoMI’s online screening platform. A series pass for all five films is available for $20 ($16 for members of MoMI and PCI-NY); individual film tickets are $5. To purchase passes and tickets, visit movingimage.us/mdag.

In Touch
Dir. Pawel Ziemilski. 2018, 61 mins. U.S. premiere. A playful and dazzling experiment in 21st-century correspondence, In Touch centers on a generation of young people who have emigrated from their tiny Polish village to Iceland for employment and greater opportunity. Amplifying their dependence on telecommunications apps like Skype to keep in touch with families back home, director Ziemilski devises room-filling, human-scaled projections of these video conferences, with Icelandic and Polish spaces overlapping and intermingling, fostering a sense of teleportation. Ziemilski’s emotionally rewarding film features people who are hungry and grateful for the connection yet cannot disguise the sorrow of their compromised togetherness. Though completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, In Touch resonates deeply during a time when many are separated from the people and places they love. Special Jury Award for Mid-Length Documentary at the 2018 IDFA Documentary Festival. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2020 Polish Film Awards.

Lessons of Love
Dirs. Malgorzata Goliszewska, Kasia Mateja. 2019, 73 mins. For most of her life, Jola has done what was expected of her. She raised six children and endured a marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. But now, later in life, she begins to go her own way, spending more time in Italy than her native Poland, hanging out with her girlfriends, dancing in nightclubs, taking singing lessons, and entertaining the possibility of love. She meets Wojtek, who treats her like a queen, but might want more of her than she’s willing to give. Malgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja’s Lessons of Love is a complex and loving observational portrait of a woman pushing against walls that have long defined her, evoking the struggles of women everywhere. Winner, Best Film on Psychology at the 2020 Docs Against Gravity Festival.

Marek Edelman...And There Was Love in the Ghetto
Dirs. Andrzej Wajda, Jolanta Dylewska. 2019, 79 mins. New York premiere. “Remember, love was the most important thing back then! Strong, unconditional love, where you are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, and give yourself completely to another person. Body and soul.” So declared Marek Edelman, resistance fighter and the last leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Proceeding from Edelman’s own testimony, Jolanta Dylewska’s complex documentary contrasts boldly colorful reenactments, written by Agnieszka Holland and directed by the legendary Andrzej Wajda, with more familiar black and white newsreel footage. And There Was Love in the Ghetto surveys neglected tales of love and lovers in the Warsaw ghetto, and reaffirms how victims of the Holocaust nonetheless fought to live and die on their own terms. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2020 Polish Film Awards.

Symphony of the Ursus Factory
Dir. Jasmina Wojcik. 2018, 60 mins. The Ursus Factory in Warsaw, Poland, used to be one of the largest producers of agricultural machinery in Europe, and for nearly a century it symbolized a thriving Polish industry. But when the Communist government collapsed in the early 1990s, the Ursus Factory went with it, derailing the careers of thousands of employees. In this ingenious and joyous act of artistic collaboration, a team of filmmakers, choreographers, and composers work with ex–factory employees to reanimate the ruins of the Ursus. Alongside tractors that have been returned to the site of their construction, the Ursus veterans recreate a day at work using remembered body movements and voicing industrial sounds, culminating in a symphony of proud, rigorous exhumation. Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film and Outstanding Achievement Original Score at the 2020 Cinema Eye Honors. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2020 Polish Film Awards.

The Whale from Lorino
Dir. Maciej Cuske. 2019, 59 mins. New York premiere. In Chukotka, on the northeastern coast of Siberia, winter blankets the land ten months out of the year. Here, the whale-hunting Chukchi, one of the oldest indigenous tribes in the region, fight to maintain their community, their traditions, and their way of life in the face of dwindling natural resources and the cruel indifference of the Russian authorities. Maciej Cuske’s ruggedly beautiful film is a rich ethnographic immersion in a blighted world teetering on the brink of doom, simultaneously redolent of the romantic optimism of Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran and the environmental pessimism of Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala. Winner of the Polish Competition Prize for the Best Production at the 2020 Docs Against Gravity Festival.

Top imageLessons of Love (2019) / courtesy of Widok.

Press contact: Tomoko Kawamoto, tkawamoto@movingimage.us
Press screeners and images are available upon request.

The Polish Cultural Institute New York was founded in 2000. It is a diplomatic mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, operating in the area of public diplomacy. The Institute works with renowned cultural and academic centers and opinion leaders operating on the American market. Its main partners include such prestigious organizations as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Museum of Modern Art, PEN American Center, Museum of the Moving Image, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, Columbia University, the New Museum, the Jewish Museum, La MaMa E.T.C. and many others. The Institute’s mission is to share Polish heritage and contemporary culture with American audiences. The Institute does so through initiating, supporting and promoting collaboration between Poland and the United States in the areas of visual art, design, film, theater, dance, literature, music, and in many other aspects of intellectual and social life. The Institute’s main task is to ensure Polish participation in the programming of America’s most important cultural institutions as well as in large international initiatives. For more information, visit instytutpolski.pl/newyork.

The Museum's mission is to advance the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the building closed since March 14, the Museum continues to fulfill its mission online through live conversations with artists, filmmakers, scholars, media educators, and other industry professionals; articles published in MoMI's online film magazine Reverse Shot and science and film resource Sloan Science & Film; access to the Museum's collection of more than 130,000 objects; and the online presentation of a range of films—including acclaimed new release features and award-winning science shorts, plus archived video of Museum events, and more. In August 2020, the Museum co-created the Queens Drive-In, in partnership with Rooftop Films and New York Hall of Science, to revive communal moviegoing in a safe environment. For more information, visit movingimage.us. Follow MoMI on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Museum of the Moving Image is housed in a building owned by the City of New York and has received significant support from the following public agencies: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York City Council; New York City Economic Development Corporation; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Institute of Museum and Library Services; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; and Natural Heritage Trust (administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation).