At Lyon’s Lumière Festival to present “Walkover,” and “The Departure,” Jerzy Skolimowski will be the subject of a five-film tribute at the Cinématheque Française’s Toute La Mémoire du Monde Festival as event distribution emerges ever more as one of the biggest hopes for the classic film business.
Titles screening at the Toute La Mémoire du Monde Festival, which runs March 2019, take in two films from Skolimowski’s raved-about 1960s Polish quartet: 1964 feature debut “Identification Marks: None”; and “Walkover,” with Skolimowski playing a young boxer facing a big fight.
Also in the tribute: 1982’s “Moonlighting,” with Jeremy Irons, decanted by The New York Times to be one of the best films ever made about about exile. It was inspired by the declaration of martial law in Poland in December 1981 but ready for the Cannes Festival where it won bests screenplay in May 1982.
Completing the tribute is 1967 Berlin Golden Bear Winner “The Departure,” a zany French comedy starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, to be released in France on Nov. 21; and 1985 Venice Special Jury Prize winner “The Lightship,” with Robert Duvall, one of the films Skolimowski made in the U.S.
The Skolimowski five-film homage forms, however, part of a larger roll-out celebrating one of the most singular careers in filmmaking in the last half century.
The Cinématheque Française will follow up its La Mémoire de Monde Festival focus by programming a full career tribute to Skolimowski.
All the restored five Mémoire du Monde titles are reissues from Paris-based classic film distributor and sales agent Malavida.
Just after the Mémoire du Monde restrospective, Anne-Laure Bréneol, head of theatrical distribution, and Lionel Ithurralde, head of DVD distribution will release the five titles in France. They also plan a special DVD box reissue of the quintet.
They play off multiple partnerships. Restoration on the two Polish titles was the result of co-operation with Studio Kadr and Di Factory. “The Departure” was restored in France with Titra. The Atelier d’Images cooperated on the restoration of “Lightship, MK2 on “Moonlighting.”
The roll-out has considerable potential. Malavida re-released “The Departure” in 2011, notching up 17,000 admissions, a “big success,” said Ithurralde. It also re-issued last year 1967’s “I Even Met Happy Gypsies,” Aleksandar Petrović, in over 100 cinema theaters in France, an extraordinary figure.
“We don’t expect every movie theater to screen all five films. But we hope that they’ll show two-to-three, at least. It’s important for some to be seen in all the big cities over France,” Ithurralde added.
Event programming, as a strategy, is one thing. For it to work, however, the event must feature a filmmaker of very large talent. Skolimowski fits the bill.
“Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the last giants of this period who is still working today, and still full of huge energy. He is also a very special director who battled the communist regime in his native Poland, but adapted to making films, and great films, in many countries, the U.K., the U.S., and France,” Ithurralde said.
He added: “He gave up filmmaking for 17 years. Nobody thought he could stage a comeback after such a long absence but his ‘Four Nights with Anna’ was a huge success at Cannes and ‘Essential Killing’ won Venice’s Special Jury Prize and was an international hit. ”