Tron dir. Steven LisbergerTron dir. Steven Lisberger
14 July 2014
Special Effects the Focus of the Sixth Edition of the New Horizons of Film Language

The educational and discussion series known as the New Horizons of Film Language will be a part of the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival for the sixth time this year. The program of the section will include films that demonstrate some of the leading trends in the field of special effects. As an opening, we will be screening a stereoscopic – the predecessor of today’s 3D – version of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Dial M for Murder. Another classic that will appear in the section is Karel Zeman’s 1958 film The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, which pays homage to the early days of cinematic special effects, in other words, the various tricks of Georges Méliès. This screen adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel involves a combination of live-action shots, stop-motion animation, and intricate graphics.

While the school of analog, handmade special effects is becoming a thing of the past, it is still impressive even if it has caused numerous production problems. That was the case with the Polish-Soviet answer to Indiana Jones, i.e., the cult classic Curse of Snakes Valley (1987). The creator of the puppets and lasers from that film, Janusz Król, will be a special guest at the Festival, while the cinema lobby will house an installation, specially made by Król, with a giant snake at the helm. Michel Gondry has used these types of retro effects (though created digitally) in many of his films, including in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), which will also be part of the program.

It is no accident that special effects are found most often in the genre of science fiction. One of the crowning achievements of the analog era was Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall (1990), where a whole array of tricks were used, from rear projections through mattes to the use of models, and it was all done to create the atmosphere of the Martian base and the conflict of identity describe in the story by Philip K. Dick. However, it is Steven Lisberger’s TRON (1982) from several years earlier that is the real precursor to digital effects. There is a story that the Academy did not allow it to contend for an Oscar because computers were used too much in making the film.

Modern special effects are developing extremely quickly, and one of the problems related to this is the issue of digital actors. In this respect, one of the pioneers was Alex Proyas’s 2004 film I, Robot, which another Festival guest, Wojtek Wawszczyk, worked on. In turn, one timeless subject is the question of the layered composition of images, which was done masterfully in Lech Majewski’s 2012 film The Mill and the Cross, which Norbert Rudzik will discuss with audiences. In addition, graphic artists and producers from the renowned Polish special-effects studio Platige Image will also take part in the program. Jakub Knapik and Krzysztof Szulc will not only show, in a separate showcase, the steps that they go through when working on a film, but they will also discuss their work on Lars von Trier’s well-known film Antichrist (2009). They will meet with the public at 12:45 p.m. on July 30. Entry cost: 10 PLN or free for holders of a Festival pass.

The section New Horizons of Film Language will also soon welcome guests at NINATEKA, the multimedia library run by the National Audiovisual Institute. You will be able to watch Lech Majewski’s film The Mill and the Cross online at www.ninateka.pl, where you can also register for meetings that will take place prior to Festival screenings.

The National Audiovisual Institute is a partner of this year’s edition of the Festival, the section New Horizons of Film Language, and Polish Days.

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