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Concerts in the Spanish Synagogue

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15 October 2013, 7:30 p.m., Spanish Synagogue

This year CINEGOGA presents one of the most important films of the late silent era, the dark thriller The Strong Man from 1929. The film will be accompanied by live music performed by Polish nu-jazz quartet Pink Freud, who performed to the film in 2011 at the Barbican Centre in London.

CINEGOGA is a cycle that combines silent film with live music performances in the unique architectural space of the Spanish Synagogue. For its fifth year in 2013, the Jewish Museum in Prague joins with the Polish Institute in Prague to present a crime thriller loosely based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Przybyszewski. While this film version came out in the late 1920s, it is the equal of and perhaps even surpasses in power the famous film noirs of the 1940s.

The main character is a talentless journalist named Henryk Bielecki who yearns for literary stardom and material wealth. His desire for money and fame is so overpowering that he is willing to do anything, even commit crime. He kills his friend, the gifted writer Jerzy Górski, by a morphine overdose. Bielecki convinces him that his new manuscript is mediocre at best. Górski is overcome with doubt about the quality of his work. He believes Bielecki, and his drug dependence eventually destroys him. Bielecki then takes the manuscript and publishes it under his own name, and this brings him the recognition and riches he had longed for. The turn of fate, however, and his growing unease results in tragedy.

The Strong Man was shot by Henryk Szaro (1900–1942), one of the pioneers of interwar Polish cinema. This was his seventh film, and his last that was silent. Born Henoch Szapiro, he studied in Petrograd and Moscow, and from 1924 he worked in his native Warsaw first as a stage director then as a film director. His career was cut short by the Second World War. As a Jew, he and his entire family were interned in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he was shot dead during one of the nighttime actions.

Thanks to its innovate use of camera and the casting of the renowned actor Grigori Chmara in the lead role, the film met with huge success both at home and abroad. Thought lost for decades, it was rediscovered in the Royal Film Archive in Brussels in 1997, and it is one of the few surviving Polish silent films. CINEGOGA will be showing a restored version with Polish, English, and Czech intertitles.

The film will be accompanied by live music from Pink Freud, a quartet led by bass guitarist Wojciech Mazolewski. Regularly performing throughout Europe, the quartet combines jazz influences with free jazz and rock as well as DJing, jungle, and drum’n’bass (www.pinkfreud.art.pl).

The project is kindly supported by: City of Prague, Jewish Museum in Prague Foundation
Media Partners: Radio Classic, Radio Express, Cinepur

Advance tickets available at the Spanish Synagogue, open daily except for Saturdays, 9-12:30 and 1:00-5:30 p.m.

Mocny człowiek (The Strong Man)
Poland, 1929, 85 min
Silent with Polish, Czech and English intertitles, b&w
Restoration and Digitization: Filmoteka narodowa, Warsaw
Director: Henryk Szaro
Music: Pink Freud (PL)

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