Beguiled Cinema presents 3 Documentaries by Lukasz Konopa
Saturday, November 1st at 7:00 pm, $7-10
Polish-born, London-based filmmaker Lukasz Konopa displays an assured dramatic sensibility while employing carefully arranged compositions that invite comparisons to still photography. Reminiscent of the films of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl (IMPORT/EXPORT, the PARADISE trilogy), these three short documentaries approach familiar subjects with a wry, sympathetic perspective that makes us feel as though we’re seeing them for the first time. Konopa makes expert use of digital video to create a visual aesthetic that’s uniquely his own. His images are crystal clear, yet not at all flat, thanks to his expressive handling of natural light–they honor the complexity of real life. Konopa’s storytelling is similarly rich, as his films are at once subtly funny and achingly sad. “Sometimes I think of myself as an alien observing human beings,” Konopa recently remarked while discussing his work at the Chicago International Film Festival. To poignant effect, his films alert us to our distance from what we’re observing and remind us how strange and surprising life can be.
AFTER (2012, 7 min.): A film depicting contemporary life at Auschwitz. Konopa observes the death camp-turned-tourist attraction from dusk ‘til dawn, capturing both the mundane activities of the staff and the often unexpected reactions of the visitors. Konopa uses a vérité approach to capture “the theater of everyday life around the grim confines and the energies and activities of a world fascinated by this former concentration camp.”
BROTHER (2013, 42 min.): This medium-length documentary, which depicts Konopa’s attempt to reconnect with his estranged half-brother after 17 years, differs from most recent personal essay films in its lack of direct appeals to the audience. Konopa presents himself as he does all his subjects, establishing a marked sense of distance between viewer and screen. The filmmaker’s motives in seeking out the family’s black sheep are deliberately unclear; what registers most strongly is the painful sense of absence in Konopa’s family.
VEGAS (2013, 24 min.): Made during Konopa’s first-ever trip to the United States, VEGAS is an uncommonly tender view of Sin City. It’s about three Las Vegas residents: Konopa’s 18-year-old cousin, who immigrated to the US in hope of becoming a famous casino performer; a homeless man who lives in an abandoned water duct with his cat; and a constable whose job is evicting people from their foreclosed homes. Konopa’s funniest work to date, it’s also his most visually striking. Working in precise tableaus, the director presents his subjects as products of their environment, a place where dreams are promised though rarely fulfilled.
Lukasz Konopa recently graduated from the National Film and Television School in the UK. Before that, he attended the Katowice Film and Television School in Poland. His films have played at Hot Docs, Clermont-Ferrand, Split Film Festival, SXSW, True/False, and most recently, the Chicago International. In 2013, AFTER was awarded Best Documentary by CILECT, the association of the world’s major film and television schools; in 2014 he was selected as a Berlinale Talent. He’s made short films for the Guardian, TVP1 (Polish Television), and BREAKING THE NEWS at the Berlin Art Biennale. He also worked as an editor on Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s already legendary (and still uncompleted) second feature DAU.
Beguiled Cinema is the programming endeavor of local critics Ben and Kat Sachs (Chicago Reader and Cine-File, respectively).
Filed under: documentary, international, video