Identification Marks: None + Walkover

Identification Marks: None – 8:00pm
It’s ironic that a fiercely driven film student itching to make a first feature would methodically scrounge university-issued scraps of film stock in order to produce an epic meditation on aimlessness — but that’s exactly what a young Jerzy Skolimowski did in the early ‘60s, gaming the system at the famous Lodz Film School to produce Identification Marks: None, a landmark independent work made at the height of state-supported Polish cinema. Skolimowski plays Andrzej Leszczyc, a bored college student who’s through with bumming about, and turns himself into the draft board after having ditched them for years. As we follow Andrzej through episodic tableaux covering the final hours before his conscription, the narrative uncoils almost exclusively in graceful, effortless long takes; while these shots were originally conceived as a crafty work-around to the film’s minuscule means, they serve as an entrancing enhancement, bringing a hyper-realistic focus to Andrzej’s encounters with all manner of eccentric street life, and his drifting through the hollowed-out shell of a gray, overcast Communist society few of us Americans can still truly fathom. DJ Matt Buzzell will be here to spin tunes before and after the films!
Dir. Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965, 35mm, 73 min.

Walkover – 9:45pm
Functioning as a more whimsical next entry in Skolimowski’s “Antoine Doinel”-esque cycle of semi-autobiographical works, Walkover retains the stylistic hallmarks of Identification Marks: None (long takes, a sweetly chaotic street-level view of Poland’s maddening inner workings), and adds an extra layer of French New Wave-style comedic surrealism that would go on to inform the director’s later works such as Deep End and The Shout. Skolimowski again stars as the central character, who, after several years in the military, arrives back in the city, only to find it an even more head-spinningly chaotic Iron Curtain fantasia than when he left it. At a loss for employment, he drifts into prize-fighting, but as his 30th birthday approaches, he faces an existential crisis mirroring Poland’s larger Communist reality: is this gray grind really all that there is? Photographed impeccably, Walkover teems with indelible imagery, from its startling opening optical illusion to long take choreography that would make Béla Tarr blush, to one of the most realistically dangerous on-camera stunts you’ll have seen in an ages (featuring Skolimowski himself leaping backwards off a speeding train in real-time.)
Dir. Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965, 35mm, 77 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Identification Marks: None”!

Watch an excerpt from “Walkover”!