26 May 2010

Two and a half months feels like quite a long time to be surrounded by the spectre of war, but that has been the case for FACT staff and collaborators who have been working in a building that has been occupied by images of personalized conflict since March. As we approach the final weeks, there will be a screening of Andrezj Munk’s final film, Passenger – a harrowing, and fragmented narrative that was completed by Munk’s collaborators after his death.

As a work, Passenger is emblematic of the theme of ‘personal conflict’, which can be found throughout the entire film programme that accompanies this exhibition. His final picture is a mixture of the live action material shot on location in Auschwitz prison camp, still photography taken whilst on location scouting with actors, and a stark voice-over that guides the audience through the film.

The resulting work investigates the way memory can act as a protective guise against the past. It exists not only as work in and off itself, but equally as a series of layered speculations into the medium of the film form – shedding light on how storytellers and audiences alike are able to reconcile traumatic memory.

The interplay between the film’s multifarious mediums creates an inimitable experience for the filmgoer -- one that asks the audience to re-evaluate not just the memory of the characters in the film, but also their own disjointed memory of the film.

Andrzej Munk was a historic figure that has often been relegated from the canon of European cinema. He was a leading figure of the Polish New Wave in the 1950s, part of the first intake in the Polish Film School at Lodz, a contemporary and comrade to Andrzej Wadja (whose films also accompany the MyWar film programme), as well as a mentor to Roman Polanski, whose film The Ghost was recently on wide release. Through dark comedy and explorations of minutia, Munk was able to unravel personal narratives – revealing ordinary people and their confrontations with extraordinary circumstances. It is for these reasons that we are choosing to celebrate Munk’s legacy here at FACT.

The screening will be accompanied by a special introduction by George and Gosia McKane of the Yellow House and Merseyside Polonia, respectively.