It's safe to say that Polish cinema is a blind spot even for a lot of voracious viewers. But if anybody can win converts to the riches of a national cinema, it's Martin Scorsese, the presenter of the "Masterpieces of Polish Cinema" retrospective that's The Belcourt's next big event.
If that sounds a little dry to you, then you haven't seen the trailer, which intercuts Scorsese's excitable spiel with an eye-boggling sampler of WTF imagery, from pin-cushioned bodies to vast battle scenes to dance numbers. (It's brought to you by Milestone Films, the folks responsible for getting I Am Cuba in front of U.S. audiences, which should tell you something.) The 10-film retro starts Sept. 13-14 with Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds (starring, as you'll recall, Zbigniew Cybulski, "the Polish James Dean"); it includes what was reportedly Jerry Garcia's favorite movie — Wojciech Has' legendary mindfuck The Saragossa Manuscript — as well as two by the great Krzysztof Kieslowski, Blind Chance and A Short Film About Killing (expanded from one of the most powerful segment's of the director's landmark Decalogue).
A few of the titles we're awaiting most eagerly: Has' color-saturated fantasy The Hour-Glass Sanatorium; Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Mother Joan of the Angels, a more restrained take on the demonic-possession story that inspired Ken Russell's hysterical The Devils; and Krzysztof Zanussi's once-banned academia satire Camouflage. You'll find the whole schedule here, and check out the homepage for Scorsese's entire 21-film touring package.