Krzysztof Zanussi (Polish, b. 1939) is one of Polish cinema's most important filmmakers. A former student of physics and philosophy—and an artist who lived under Stalinism and witnessed its collapse—Zanussi continues to make skeptical, probing films that investigate politics and power, faith and ethics, and family and love. Zanussi was the subject of a retrospective at MoMA in 1987, and was featured in the Museum’s 50th anniversary tribute to the Lodz Film School in 1999. Thanks to a generous gift from the Polish Film Institute in Warsaw, and in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, the Museum has recently acquired new 35mm English-subtitled prints of three of Zanussi’s finest films—Family Life (1971), Camouflage (1977), and The Constant Factor (1980) —that add considerably to the Museum’s collection of Polish cinema. Zanussi presents these films together with the New York premiere of his most recent film, Revisited (2009), which reunites many of the actors, including some of Poland’s greats—Maja Komorowowska, Daniel Olbrychski, and Jan Nowicki—to revisit characters they played in this earlier work. Zanussi’s films often derive their drama from the anxiety of free will and the presence of mystery in everyday life. “I believe that one cannot appreciate life without appreciating death,” he has observed. “We are so impoverished in our ethical life, our feelings; we have lost the sensation of the wind, of the sand under our feet, and we eat only food with standardized tastes. Our intuition fades away, our sensations grow flatter. The quest, the nostalgia for a better world, originates in this sorrowful, ever-present awareness of an imperfect world and imperfect beings.”
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film. The exhibition is supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in New York; the Polish Film Institute, Warsaw; the Polish National Film Archive; and TOR Film Studio, Warsaw.