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Finding Zen in Poland: An Interview with Jerzy Skolimowski

The Jerzy Skolimowski retrospective currently touring the United States is re-introducing American audiences to one of the most free-spirited directors the movies have ever produced. His first features, made in Poland in his mid-twenties, presented an exuberant sensibility shaped by both jazz and poetry; more than 40 years old, they still feel more youthful than most contemporary films. Skolimowski’s fourth feature, Hands Up (1967), was too free-spirited for Communist Poland, as State authorities banned the movie and pressured Skolimowski to leave the country. Working as a nomadic director, he produced an unpredictable but often inspired run of films, though the frustrations of making movies led him increasingly to take solace in painting. At 73, Skolimowski seems to have reconciled the great dilemmas of his life: He returned to Poland in 2008, and he seems to have struck a balance between painting and filmmaking. Last week, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and I called Skolimowski in Poland to discuss his two careers,

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