Category Archives: cultural beast

animated history of Poland

An animated history of Poland

The recent success of Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida at the Oscars made me revisit some of Poland’s great filmmakers again.

And by pure accident I came across this – an 8 minute video, depicting the history of Poland through animation, created by Tomasz Bagiński, a BAFTA-winning Polish illustrator, animator and filmmaker, who was also nominated for an Oscar.

In 2010 Bagiński was commissioned to create a short animated movie for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

In 8 minutes and 30 seconds we experience twelve centuries of Polish history from the early settlements to the most recent events with Poland as part of the European Union.

So if you’ve never studied Polish history, here it is – in an 8-minute, animated nutshell:


JEMP Festival returns to London for 2013

Normally when I post something on a Sunday, it’s a music clip.  And normally it’s my post.

Today will be another music post, but with a difference. This one wasn’t written by me. For the first time in the history of this blog, I’m posting a guest post. Hooray! The text below was written by the Polski Blog’s fan and reader, Matt Lindley, who has something special for all you (Polish) jazz lovers. Matt, over to you….


Coming to London later this month will be a programme of Polish experimental and jazz music as JEMP Festival hits town. Running from 25th November to 5th December, Jazz and Experimental Music from Poland is a six-day series of concerts at various venues around the city, including Café Oto and Vortex Jazz Club in East London. From Free Jazz to Electroacoustic Improv to Noise, we take a look at three of the JEMP highlights.

Mikołaj Trzaska / Mark Sanders Duo and Mikrokolektyw

25th November 2013 at Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston


Formed out of the ashes of Robotobibok, Mikrokolektyw are a stripped-down duo comprising Kuba Suchar (drums) and Artur Majewski (trumpet). Both members also contribute analogue synth to the mix. Influences from Chicago’s jazz and post rock scene of the 90s are certainly evident, but Mikrokolektyw’s forward-thinking drift is entirely their own. They will be performing music from their new album Absent Minded, out now on Delmark.

Later in the evening, legendary saxophonist Mikołaj Trzaska and drummer Mark Sanders will take to the stage for a special one-off collaboration. Trzaska is best known as a founding member of Polish jazz group Miłość (see below) and has gone on to collaborate with Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark and others. London-based Sanders is equally well-travelled and known for his diverse and constantly creative drumming.

Piotr Kurek & Andie Brown and Piętnastka

27th November 2013 at OTO Project Space, Dalston


Piętnastka’s (AKA Piotr Kurek’s) massively psychedelic Dalia tape was one of the music highlights of 2011. Kurek’s music weaves synth and organ tones to create fairytale soundworlds inhabited by the ghosts of Eastern European folk music. Hearing him perform live with percussionist Hubert Zemler will be one of the high points of the festival.   

Later in the evening, Kurek will be joined by London musician Andie Brown for another JEMP exclusive. Brown has collaborated with Cindytalk and operates under the solo moniker These Feathers Have Plumes. It will be interesting to hear how her atmospheric ambient drone textures merge with Kurek’s keyboard reveries.

Miłość (Love) Film Screening

30th November 2013 at the Rio Cinema, Dalston


Coming to Dalston’s Rio Cinema will be a special one-off screening of Filip Dzierżawski’s documentary about Polish jazz group Miłość. Founded in 1988 by Tymon Tymański, Miłość were the first Polish band to integrate elements of punk rock, folk and techno into their sound, creating a new style of music known as ‘jass’.

Dzierżawski’s film tells the dramatic story of Miłość ten years after the band broke up, as they prepare for a reunion tour. Will the magic still be there? Expect new interviews, archive material and concert footage as the band discuss their early days and the legacy of their jass sound. The film will be accompanied by a Q&A session.

The third edition of JEMP looks set to be the best yet, so we hope you can make it down to some shows!

Additional information: For a full program of events visit the official website ( For London accommodation check out HotelClub (

Guest post by Matt Lindley

Sunday music: Paula & Karol

OK, it’s definitely time to say goodbye to the summer – and I have a perfect song for this.

The Way We Were was recorded by a Polish folk duo Paula & Karol, and it comes from their 2012 album Whole Again.

According to the blurb on their site

The Guardian listed them in their “sound of 2011 around the world”, stating that „They are Poland’s new superheroes. Not the tight pants, fluttering cape kind. More like, come to our concert – we’ll break your heart, and then we’ll fix it up kind.”

I love their catchy music (thanks Joanna for the tip again), love the video and I’ve had their album on repeat for the past few weeks.

So without further ado….

Sunday music: Mela Koteluk

Ah, my best friend Joanna never fails to impress me. I asked her a few days ago to recommend some new Polish music I might enjoy and within minutes my inbox was full of names, titles, links and videos.

Here’s one I really liked – Mela Koteluk. I had to Google her to find our a bit more about her and it turns out she started out as a backing singer before releasing her debut album Spadochron (Parachute) last year.

In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Fryderyk Award for the Debut of The Year and the Artist of the Year.

This track is called Melodia Ulotna (Fleeting Melody). Love her energy…

Oh, and do come back next Sunday for my farewell to the summer track!

Polish films at the London Film Festival

A still from Floating Skyscrapers. Image source: BFI
A still from Floating Skyscrapers. Image source: BFI

This year’s London Film Festival is just around the corner and the general public will be able to buy the Festival tickets from today. (Unlike some of the BFI members, who – having paid their annual membership – hoped for some priority tickets last week, but instead  were busy venting their frustration on Twitter, as the online system kept crashing.)

As always, there’s a nice selection of foreign films and this year there are also a few Polish movies, some of which are hotly anticipated both in Poland and elsewhere.

Like Wałęsa. Man of Hope. The third part of Andrzej Wajda’s trilogy (Man of Marble, Man of Iron and now Man of Hope) charts the rise of the Solidarity union and its leader, Lech Wałęsa, an electrician, who became the President of Poland.

This should be compulsory viewing if you’re interested in Poland’s history:

Then there’s Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące Wieżowce),  a contemporary story exploring a topic that still causes a lot of controversy in modern Poland: homosexuality. The film’s director Tomasz Wasilewski described it as “the first Polish LGBT film”.

My third recommendation is Ida. Judging by the trailer, it’s visually stunning, despite being shot in black-and-white. The film tells a story of a young nun who, when forced to contact her last surviving relative, discovers her family’s dark past.

Ida was directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, the UK-based Polish director whose My Summer of Love won him a couple of Bafta Awards.

Are you planning to see any of these? Or any other LFF films? Let me know.

Sunday music: Dawid Podsiadło

There have been many TV formats that have conquered the world: from Big Brother to The X Factor. Almost every country with a significant TV audience has adopted one of those formats and – quite often – generated a slew of minor celebs and one-off ‘stars’.

In some cases those ‘stars’ became real stars and went on to achieve something bigger and longer-lasting.

Dawid Podsiadło might be one of them.

He won the Polish X-Factor in 2012, got a contract with Sony Music and if this song – taken from his debut album Comfort and Happiness – is a sign of things to come, Daniel might do a bit better than Shayne Ward or Leon Jackson….