Walpurgis Night in the limelight at Tofifest
by Dorota Hartwich
- Having already won awards at Gdynia and Koszalin, the feature-length fiction debut by Marcin Bortkiewicz is now creating a buzz in Toruń
A mixture of irony, tragedy and the grotesque: such is the atmosphere created by Walpurgis Night [+see also:
film profile], the feature-length fiction debut by Marcin Bortkiewicz, presented in the competitive “From Poland” section of the 13th Tofifest in Toruń (18-25 October).
The action of the film unfolds at a very specific time and place. It is Walpurgis Night (30 April-1 May, often associated with the Witches’ Sabbath) in 1969, at an opera house in Switzerland, after the performance of Turandot, the last, unfinished work by Giacomo Puccini. The great opera star Nora Sedler (Malgorzata Zajaczkowska, a Polish actress who goes by the name Margaret Sophie Stein in Hollywood) leaves the stage and heads back to her dressing room, where a young journalist (Philippe Tlokinski, a Swiss-trained actor born in France to a Polish father) is waiting to interview her. But the light-hearted and humorous atmosphere soon changes, and the discussion takes on the form of a game, swinging back and forth between electric erotic tension and the context of the singer’s tragic past, which gradually comes to light: that of a Jewish girl from the ghetto – and from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Produced by PS Film, Walpurgis Night benefits particularly from some high-quality black-and-white imagery courtesy of Andrzej Wojciechowski. Having proven extremely popular at the recent Gdynia Film Festival in Poland, where it snagged the Award for the Film with the Longest Applause and the Young Jury Award, the feature also won five trophies at the Koszalin Festival (the Audience Award, Young Jury Award, Journalists’ Award, Best Screenplay and Best Actress).
(Translated from French)