Stefan + Franciszka – Invitation to a film screening | Tuesday 4 March 2014, 7-9pm

Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, 1977. photo Francois Lagarde

Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, 1977. photo Francois Lagarde

Stefan + Franciszka

A Documentary about Stefan & Franciszka Themerson

by Professor Tomasz Pobóg-Malinowski


Tuesday 4 March 2014, 7-9pm


While pacing up and down on the terrace of his London house, Stefan Themerson says at one point, “I am not a noun, I’m a verb,” meaning that for a long time he didn’t exist, now he does exist, and soon he will stop existing. And these are the characteristics of a verb rather than of a noun.

The scene is set in Maida Vale, where Stefan and his wife, the painter, Franciszka Themerson have lived for many years. Both were born in Poland, where during the 1930s they became important pioneers of the film avant-garde, experimenting with “cameraless” photography and inventing photograms in motion. They were co-founders of S.A.F., a filmmakers’ cooperative and published its journal f.a. When they left Warsaw for Paris in 1938, it was as key figures of the Polish film avant-garde. Stefan was a writer, and also an author of children’s books, which Franciszka illustrated.

Tomasz Pobóg-Malinowski first became acquainted and interested in the Themersons through their one surviving film, The Adventure of a Good Citizen, which he saw at the Polish National Film School in Łódź, where he was a student. Just then his good friend Andrzej Klimowski, a British-born graphic artist who was at the time studying at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, was becoming equally curious about the Themersons.

Armed with a borrowed 16mm hand-cranked Bolex camera capable of 25 second-long shots, a domestic cassette recorder to record sound, some costly rolls of Kodak colour film and a few more rolls of cheap East German black and white ORWO film, off the pair went to London in 1974. The time they spent with the Themersons in Maida Vale rummaging through books, paintings, photographs, film clips, ephemera provided the raw materials for Tomasz’s documentary. As did the nightly feasts cooked by Franciszka and the conversations they shared with the Themersons during their time together.

Since it was first produced in 1975 Tomasz’s documentary Stefan + Franciszka remains the most authoritative documentary on the Themersons. We are delighted to announce that Tomasz will be at GV Art gallery, to introduce his film and take part in a Q&A after the screening.

Directed, Written and Filmed by Tomasz Pobóg-Malinowski. (1974-5, 18 mins, Colour and Black & White Film, Print from Filmmaker)

Prof. Tomasz Pobóg-Malinowski– Biography

In the thirty or so years after graduating from the National Film School in 1971, Professor Tomasz Pobóg-Malinowski has made over 60 films and TV programmes, and lectured in Poland and abroad. He was one of the co-founders of the Solidarity Film Unit, and when martial law was imposed in 1981, Tomasz left Poland. Subsequently he settled in Britain and established himself as an independent producer-director. Tomasz has since directed/produced films and major documentaries globally. Including: ‘Fine Cut– The story of the Polish Film School – from Stalinism, through the Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda era, the emergence of Solidarity and martial law – to the present crisis‘ (BBC); ‘From Ashes to Diamonds to Ashes – Andrzej Wajda’s critical look at the Polish post-war cinema as a mirror of social changes‘ (Channel Four);’The Truth About Lies – A major 4-part series on censorship‘ (Channel 4); a series of programmes in Burma and Cambodia produced together with Thant-Mying-U; and a documentary series about Tarahumara Indians shot in Mexico on DV cameras. His work has won awards at several international film festivals including Oberhausen, Krakow, Edinburgh, Toronto and San Francisco.

Martin Beney