Friday, June 28, 2013

Fashion in Film: Małgorzata Braunek

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Those sunglasses!

The soft focus blends well with the more aggressive patterns of her shirt.

The timeless Soviet look.

Onscreen texture: white tulle.

Everything about this photo works well, but I particularly like the way the bright shade of her dress and multi-coloured scarf accentuate the colours of the natural setting of the background.

The mirror acts as a halo here, perfect.

For more photographs and a biography on Małgorzata Braunek please see is an online magazine promoting Polish Culture abroad, run by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Film Preview [From a personal perspective]: Rio 2016 (2013) Bianca Rotaru

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

We all know that Romanians are the best at gymnastics (and if you did not know then you do now!). It all began with Nadia Comăneci when she effortlessly scored a perfect 10 during the Montreal Olympics of 1976. She was coached by husband-wife team Béla and Márta Károlyi - a Hungarian/Romanian duo who went on to train a series of gold medal winning gymnasts in The States following Nadia's success. This may seem like a wonderful story about hard work and triumph, but one might want to stop and consider how gruelling the task of training for the biggest sporting event in the world might be....

Rio 2016 (2013) is a documentary directed by Bianca Rotaru that focuses on the trials and tribulations of two young gymnasts, Teodora and Andreea as they fight for a spot on the Romanian National Team heading for the Rio Olympics. Throughout the film preview, the intimidating voice of a woman is heard, perhaps their coach, as she uses reverse psychology to push her pupils to perform in all excellence, debasing them along the way. 

Stills from Rio 2016.

My mother once told me that she remembered reading about how Nadia was not permitted to eat any cake on her birthday. As a little girl, I remember being was disgusted and shocked, thinking "no cake at all, really?" At the time, I was a young gymnast at a quiet local club in suburban Melbourne. I had an severe Russian coach named Katya who persisted to ask me the impossible question: "are you a scared little rabbit?" because I couldn't do the vault. She had no fault in her methods, but she did choose the wrong person to pursue - I was not interested in training for the Olympics. I was disinterested in sports, wanting rather to socialise with the other girls about Leonardo Dicaprio and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, I do remember a feeling a sense of envy when I watched the older girls perform sequential somersaults on the beams. Katya probably whipped them into shape.

So what is the point of this story...? Documentaries are a window to real life experiences, they are the closest interpretations of reality within the cinema realm. Rio 2016 is a documentary with a fresh perspective that not only incorporates the psychology of the game-centred narrative (a typical screenwriting template), but offers a unique examination of a culture of people that are incredibly hard on themselves, especially when passion prevails above all else.

See trailer here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Women in Film: Jolanta Umecka

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Polish actress Jolanta Umecka is best known for her role in one of Roman Polanski's earlier films, Knife in the Water (1962). She appeared in only a few other roles throughout the 1960s and not much is known after that, but I'm sure there's heaps on info on Polish Google that remains to be deciphered. For now, let's celebrate her interesting and rather complex character portrayal as a young wife involved in a dangerous game of flirtation in Knife in the Water.

Still from Knife in the Water.

Publicity shot of Jolanta.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Women in Film: Elżbieta Czyżewska

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Elżbieta Czyżewska (1938-2010) was a Polish actress who constantly fought the boundaries of a close-minded communist backdrop in her native city of Warsaw. She notoriously established a student satirical theatre while studying at the State Academy of Theatre in Warsaw - an apparent retaliation towards the faculty dean who advised her to obtain a breast reduction if she was serious about playing romantic roles. Elżbieta famously worked with Andrzej Wajda in Everything for Sale (1968) but she is primarily remembered for her performance in Wojciech Has' historical epic, The Saragossa Manuscript (1965). Her first marriage was to noted director, screenwriter, dramatist and actor Jerzy Skolimowski which lasted from 1959-1965. It was also around this time that Elżbieta revealed her talents on stage, receiving awards for role in Arthur Miller's After the Fall. She became an outcast in Poland after her marriage to the American writer and historian David Halberstam who constantly criticised the oppressive regime. Her new life in the United States led to many significant contributions to theatre and film, however, her second marriage would have the same fate as the first, ending in divorce in 1977. Elżbieta died of cancer at 72 in New York City, leaving behind a lifetime of artistic endeavours in both Poland and the United States.

Still from The Saragossa Manuscript (1965)

Still from Wife for an Australian (1963) 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fashion in Film: Man is Not a Bird/Čovek nije tica (1965) Dušan Makavejev

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

You can't go wrong by having a blonde actress wear a black lace nightgown. I love the play on texture in this image between the softness of the furry blanket and the cold iron bed frame.

Converse high tops.

Apron and field worker hat makes for a working class reference.

The angle of this still compliments the leotards somehow making the women seem taller.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Visual Diary: Diary for My Children/ Napló gyermekeimnek (1984) Márta Mészáros

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 1984.

A story about Eastern Europe's Stalinist past, directed by Hungarian filmmaker Márta Mészáros.

Stills derived from here.