Kazimierz Kutz (1929-2018) was an extremely energetic man. We remember him mostly as an immensely inventive apologist of the Silesian spirit, a film-maker, as well as a politician.
Born into a working class family where the father was a railway worker and a Silesian insurgent, the latter of which had a great influence on the artist. When talking about the late director, it is hard not to mention Silesia, his “little homeland”, although he mostly touched upon universal issues in his works. These include not just films, but also theatrical plays, surprising in their innovative form and dealing with contemporary world matters.
As part of this retrospective, we will present six films at the Two Riversides Festival, starting with the early, art-house picture Nobody’s Calling (Nikt nie woła) and ending with Death as a Slice of Bread (Śmierć jak kromka chleba), a film made by Kutz already in free Poland, in aftermath of the shocking events of the martial law period. The homage would not be complete without the highly praised and awarded Silesian trilogy, comprising Salt of the Black Earth (Sól ziemi czarnej), Pearl in the Crown (Perła w koronie) and The Beads of One Rosary (Paciorki jednego różańca).
Kutz debuted in 1954 as Andrzej Wajda’s assistant during the making of A Generation (Pokolenie). Five years later, he directed Cross of Valor (Krzyż Walecznych) by himself. In his works, Kutz chose conventions that fit the theme, mixing and colliding them, moving between genres. He was ahead of his time, although this did not always win him acclaim from audiences or critics. Still, some films were appreciated from a certain perspective. For instance, Nobody’s Calling was compared in its style to Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Adventure, which was made at the same time.
Kutz received a true and well-merited recognition for his so-called Silesian triptych films, which were enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike, as well as the film industry. Krzysztof Zanussi, another prominent Polish film-maker, said that everyone wanted to be a Silesian after watching these films. They were produced following meticulous preparations, and with great attention to detail and realism. These are lyrical, symbolic pictures, firmly rooted in the Silesian reality and historical context, yet with an additional metaphysical and universalistic character. Over the years, the director’s perspective evolved and changed. Salt of the Black Earth (1969) reads close to a biblical parable. Pearl in the Crown (1971) is a story about love, but also solidarity between people. The Beads of One Rosary (1979) paints a picture of a small homeland at its twilight; living in the hearts of its people, cultivated in small gestures, traditions and language almost like a religion, but inevitably disappearing, dispersing into a larger cultural organism.
Death as a Slice of Bread (1994) is a particularly emotional expression of the director’s soul. It is not a story told by a descendant of a Silesian insurgent or an insightful observer of contemporary times. Rather, it is the testimony of an eyewitness with an unhealed wound in his heart, and a portrait of an individual through the lens of the collective, characteristic of all Silesian films of the artist. The mood of the film is emphasised by the sublime music by Wojciech Kilar, who had collaborated many times before, and made his debut, with Kutz.
The Silesian identity presented in these films, either as the focus or a background, is presented in a realistic manner, but with an undeniable, unique charm. Although in itself close to the hearts of a few, it represents essential and universal feelings, ideas and values. We are pleased to invite you on this journey, an intellectual and emotional dialogue between a brilliant artist and the audience.
sources: culture.pl, sfp.org.pl