I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about this screening. The little experience I have of Polish cinema paint it in my mind as a rather gruelling affair. The first three films in this collection did nothing to dispel this idea, Universal Spring, Training and Dragon Flies all dealt with largely dissatisfied people living lonely lives, trying and failing to connect with each other, and ending up hurt or broken. After these though, the light broke through.

The Princess was an adorable piece of fluff, in the best possible sense of the word. Only four minutes long, it told the story of a princess setting off into the snow with her tuba in the hope of finding some friends. With no dialogue, beautiful production design and a colour palette completely of white apart from the red of her hair, it was charmingly simplistic and the perfect antidote to the sombre mood of the previous 45 minutes. After this the tone was markedly lighter. Episode was a beautiful pastel and pencil animation about a mental patient and his loyal pink ducks, which stay with him even after he is lobotomized; visually stunning, if not a little odd. Red Dot told the story of a woman at a petrol station running away with a man buying petrol, and seemed oddly like a car advert from the 70s. How Are You? was a documentary about a deaf couple who communicate through video messages from Poland and Japan, with a stand-out performance from the quite possibly senile grandmother. But the film that really stuck with me, both stylistically and in terms of content was 13 Years and 10 Months, a documentary about Anastazja, a 13 year old girl with cystic fibrosis, which means she will probably not live beyond 30. Anastazja’s life force, sense of humour and overall demeanour were heartbreakingly positive, and a reminder to the rest of us to make the most of the time we have. She jokes to children at school who say they don’t like her that “they’ll get a break from her” once she turns 30, and while she says she has no fear of death, she worries how her mother will fare when she is gone. This nine minute documentary served the simple aim of making the audience realize how lucky they are to be alive, and how fragile life really is. Overall, a mixed bag of films, but far more uplifting than I ever would have expected.

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