From March 5-8, the Denver Film Society will be curating an encore presentation of Martin Scorsese’s “Masterpieces of Polish Cinema” at the SIE Film Center. For Ernie Quiroz, the programming manager of the Denver Film Society, this extra screening is exciting because it will give anyone who missed the Denver premiere of the series one more chance to witness film history.
This historic series came together when Scorsese traveled to Poland in 2011 to accept an honorary doctorate degree from the Polish National Film, Television, and Theatre School in Lódz. Working with the school, he set out to digitally remaster a number of Polish works and ended up coming home with a 21-film series. After the series’ premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, Scorsese decided to give the films a wider release, allowing Quiroz to screen them in Denver.
Compared to the massive, two-week screening at the SIE Film Center last August, this encore will feature five of the series’ essential films, along with three newly added features, including Roman Polanski’s 1962 debut, “Knife in the Water.” The black-and-white thriller is one of Quiroz’s favorites and it will likely kick off the encore.
“It was actually the number one film that people asked about when I did the original series,” Quiroz says. “It’s got beautiful cinematography, these three characters on a boat and a sense of claustrophobia. You’re not exactly sure what’s gonna happen. There’s this amazing tension, sort of like a Hitchcock thriller, and you feel like you’re right there, stuck on the boat with them.”
“Knife in the Water” is a prime example of a Polish film that inspired some of America’s most innovative directors. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Altman and Scorsese have all utilized a number of stylistic techniques popularized by foreign directors, like Polanski.
As a former filmmaker himself, Quiroz explains that, with this encore, “We’re bringing back some classics that come from the golden age of foreign films, the ’50s and ’60s, when a huge influx of French, Italian and Polish films made their way to American cinemas. They inspired Scorsese’s generation of filmmakers …You sort of see the roots of indie film in these foreign films.”
As the founder of The Film Foundation, Scorsese has been a dedicated film preservationist since the start of his career. So, it only makes sense that he wanted these Polish masterpieces to find a second home at theaters like SIE. After all, these are the films that once influenced him and will hopefully inspire more American filmmakers to come.