Yep, it’s that time again: Off Camera Film Festival. Kicking off on April 29th right across the city, this celebration of independent cinema brings with it over 100 titles that compete across a whopping 10 categories. From nail-biting mountaineering travelogues to Kafkaesque thrillers and damning exposes of contemporary Europe, this year’s selection boasts plenty to look forward to. Check it out…

Cosmos

A dark and unsettling thriller come surrealist psychological dialectic, where an uneasy comic edge permeates and eerie hangings of birds and twigs punctuate the action, Cosmos is the final production from Polish art house master Andrzej Żuławski. The story tells the tale of two friends, Witold and Fuchs, who opt for a weekend getaway in the guesthouse of one Miss Wojtysowa. The audience is bounced between the darkly comic interchanges of the central duo and the absurd other lodgers, while the overarching driver is the curious occurrences in the night; a sparrow dead in a noose, then a moss-speckled log hanging too. A Kafkaesque web of intrigue and curiosities is weaved, while the audience – just as much as the hero, Witold – is left wondering if there are any answers to be had at all.

[Cosmos is playing at the Małopolski Ogród Sztuki on Friday 29th April at 8pm, and at Kino Pod Baranami on Saturday 30th April at 2pm.]



Death in Sarajevo

It is 100 years since the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo; the event that led directly to the outbreak of World War I. The moment is to be marked by the presence of dignitaries from right across the continent, who gather at the Hotel Europa in the heart of the city, where the finest crockery and red carpets await. But barely concealed beneath the surface is the darker side that no one’s talking about. There are gangsters patrolling the cellars, nationalist fanatics commandeering the coms and the staff haven’t received their wages. It’s in the interplay between these two worlds – the charade of the modern European status quo and the gritty underbelly that makes it work – that the real genius of this piece by award-winning director Danis Tanovic lies. At once topical and courageous, darkly comic and raw, it’s a film that won’t soon be forgotten.

[Death in Sarajevo is playing at Kino POD BARANAMI on Monday 2nd May at 9pm and Kino POD BARANAMI on Tuesday 3rd May at 6pm.]

Bodkin Ras

A timely tale of belonging and identity that concerns itself with unravelling prejudices and critiquing that age-old group affirmer of opposition to The Other, Bodkin Ras takes place in the sleepy, unlikely little Scottish town of Forres. A nondescript place that’s mainly on the map for its blooming flower beds each spring, this highland spot on the beautiful but wild and – crucially inhospitable – Moray Coast becomes the theatre of action where all the deep-set stereotypes of the UK (and arguably Northern Europe more generally) begin to play out. It all starts when a young stranger of Arabic descent rambles into town. His name is Bodkin, and there are skeletons in his closet, just as there are in the closets of Forres’s own. Dealing with these devils of the past is the main feature of the movie, and considering only the main player is a pro actor, this one runs exceptionally smoothly to the very end!

[Bodkin Ras is playing at Krakowskie Centrum Kinowe ARS – REDUTA on Monday 2nd May at 9pm, Tuesday 3rd May at 4pm, Wednesday 5th May at 8pm and Sunday 8th May at 3pm]

Meru

Forget Everest. Forget K2. Forget Annapurna. This spine-tingling, edge-of-the-seat type mountain film deals with a whole different beast altogether: Mount Meru. Set deep in the high Himalaya of the Indian Uttarakhand, this shark’s fin of a peak has never been climbed. Cue the formidable high-altitude trio of Conrad Anker of George Mallory fame, Renan Ozturk and fearless Jimmy Chin, who set out to scale the unscalable, not once but twice, first in 2008 and then again 2011. The ensuing action shots show the group sleeping suspended over the Himalayan peaks, scrambling up glaciers and shale ridges and dangling over precipices that put the Eiger to shame. In the end, however, Meru proves itself ultimately a tale about the perseverance and tenacity of the human spirit. Not recommended for folk prone to bouts of vertigo or dizziness!

[Meru is playing at Kino Kijów on Saturday 30th April at 3pm, Krakowskie Centrum Kinowe ARS on Tuesday 3rd May at 12pm, and at Kino Agrafka on Friday 6th May at 7.40pm.]

Wild

Wild is a glaringly unashamed allegory of a movie that tackles the subject of modern life and its concomitant mundanities head on. It tells the story of Ania, a sort of contemporary version of Dickens’s hand workers, whose rigid routines force her to look elsewhere for fulfilment. In a surrealist and rather conspicuously metaphorical plot twist, Ania decides to take in a wild wolf, hoping this burst of unbridled feral life will shock her from her ennui. What ensues is a kind of Dances with Wolves meets Jack London meets Nymphomaniac mashup; one which moves to deconstruct modern society, liberate the female form from its Urizen-esque, masculine categories, and offer some all-new and fascinating perspectives on the human and animal conditions.

[Wild is playing at Krakowskie Centrum Kinowe ARS – REDUTA on Friday 29th of April at 7pm, Monday 2nd May at 5pm and Tuesday 3rd May at 2.15pm. Also playing at Kino Agrafka on Saturday 7th May at 12.30pm]