Saskatoon is slightly warming as the week proceeds. I’m reluctant to say this is directly attributable to the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival but after a surprisingly strong Day 2, I see no other credible explanation for it. Including the What the Hell! – Totally Messed Up Short Films block, Day 2 offered 16 different works for consideration, injecting a heavy dose of bizarro randomness into the Festival and creating a decidedly different tone from the previous day’s atmospheric horror extravaganza.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Hourglass Sanatorium.
Wojciech Jerzy Has’s The Hourglass Sanatorium is a phantasmagorical journey through Polish history and the vanishing Jewish culture of Eastern Europe compliments of the Polish Film School’s most eccentric filmmaker. Józef (Jan Nowicki) travels to a dilapidated hospital where time can be reversed, allowing his dying father to remain in a state where his recovery is once again a possibility. Left to explore the sanatorium on his own, Józef traverses a dream-like voyage through surreal episodes connected to his childhood in search of transcendent knowledge and personal meaning. Rejected by authorities as critical of contemporary Poland, evoking images of the Holocaust during a period of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country, and smuggled into the 1973 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize, The Hourglass Sanatorium is a bravely hallucinatory mosaic of history, fantasy, and politics conjured from a dozen stories by the “Polish Kafka,” Galician writer Bruno Schulz.
- New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New introduction by filmmaker Martin Scorsese
- Visual essay by Holocaust scholar Leonard Orr
- New interview with film director Borys Lankosz on his mentor Wojciech Jerzy Has
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Rowena Santos Aquino