Must-See Polish Films

The Best Of Polish Cinema

Corinna Osei

09 Oct 21

Stunning, tragic and mysterious: Polish cinema has a remarkable history dating back to 1908 but it wasn't until 1956 that Polish films started to become the staple of cinema. Throughout the years, it has given us some incredible filmmakers such as Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Agnieszka Holland & Paweł Pawlikowski. Read on to discover some of the best of Polish Cinema.

Ida (2014)

Set in Poland 1962, this black and white drama stars newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska as the titular character, Ida. As she's about to take her vows as a nun, Ida learns from her only relative, Wanda (Agata Kulesza) that she's Jewish. Both women embark on a journey to discover their family's tragic story and figure out where they belong. Visually stunning and a remarkable piece of cinema, this film manages to delve deep into this tragic story, bringing so much emotion and humanity to the characters. It became the first Polish film to win an Oscar. Fun Fact: Never Gonna Snow Again's director Małgorzata Szumowska discovered Agata in a Warsaw cafe and persuaded her to audition for Ida.

Never Gonna Snow Again (2021)

Chosen as Poland's entry for the 93rd Academy Awards, this film follows a mysterious stranger who arrives in a gated community on the outskirts of Poland. There, he is welcomed by the wealthy residents who embrace his talents as a masseur and believe he can take all their pain away. A film made by longtime collaborators Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert, it's captivating and visually stunning. Alec Utgoff gives an uplifting and hypnotic performance as Zhenia, a Ukrainian immigrant masseur.

Never Gonna Snow Again is in cinemas from Friday 15 October. Book tickets now

The Double Life Of Veronique (1992)

Two parallel stories about Veronique (Irène Jacob),  a beautiful young French woman aspiring to become a singer in France and Weronika (Irène Jacob), a Polish woman with a similar career goal as Veronique. Though the two don't know each other, there is a sense of a ghostly companion. A film that is more based on the characters themselves and not the plot, it draws you in from the very first moment and allows you to understand the similarities of two people from different backgrounds. It's a beautiful piece of work with stunning cinematography from Slawomir Idziaka and a haunting score from Zbigniew Preisner.

The Illumination (1973)

A semi-experimental film, it is the most unique film in Polish cinema history. The film is about the life of a physicist as he abandons his work to find the meaning of life. This film derives from the background of physics to tell the story of a physics student's life in his twenties. It's throughout provoking and audiences can relate to what Franciszek Retman (Stanislaw Latallo) goes through in life. As his only acting credit, he does a phenomenal job playing the titular character. The film was chosen for the "Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema" season. It is an intelligent masterpiece.

Cold War (2018)

Winner at the Cannes Film Festival, this is the latest film from Pawel Pawlikowski (Director of Ida). Set in the 1950s Cold War in Poland, this film is a passionate love story between two people in impossible times. It's a visually stunning film captured in black and white to represent the time period. Exceptional performances from Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot as a mismatched couple who are drawn to each other. It earned Pawel Pawlikowski his first Oscar nomination for Best Director and has wowed critics and audiences alike. This film is an arthouse masterpiece.