Cold War (15)

Nov 20, 2019
Anson Paul

Shot in luminous black and white, this epic romance is set in a divided Europe after World War II. Directed by Pawlikowski, who won an Oscar for ‘Ida’, it is a haunting and mesmerising film about a divided continent and ill-fated love. It won the Best Director award at Cannes in 2018.


Unattainable desire hurts deeply, scars permanently and as in ‘Casablanca,’ From Here to Eternity’ and countless others, makes for some of film history’s most swoon-worthy stories of passion…An aching film on such exquisite pains of impossible love…concurrently swells your heart and breaks it.” (Roger Ebert)

Pawel Pawlikowski was inspired to create this film as witness to his own parents’ tempestuous marriage. This is a story of impossible love and glorious passion and beauty. Wiktor played by Thomas Kot is travelling through Poland in 1949 recruiting the finest performers of traditional folk music to form a troupe that represents national pride and is a vehicle of cultural propaganda throughout the Iron Curtain. He falls for Zula, played by Joanna Kulig. Kulig has a ripe naturalistic beauty. She is glamorous then plain in the flash of an eye, an unpredictable creature of pure instinct, quite mesmerising. These imperfect lovers are enormously sympathetic even at their most flawed. The film is an emotionally compulsive watch.

Cold War is visually stunning, crafted in velvety looking black and white by Lukasz Zal. He showcases his subjects vividly against smoky impressionistic backdrops with compositional precision, usually within squared-off symmetrical frames. Look out for two impeccable shots, the first Wiktor’s silhouette projected onto the silver screen as he scores a film within a studio, the second Zulu seen singing in a jazz club through a 360 degree surround shot.

The soundtrack that moves from traditional folk music to jazz and nascent rock and roll is beautiful and adroitly mirrors the emotional turmoil enfolding on screen.
The story is told epigrammatically. The scenes do not dovetail and we are left to fill in the blanks. It is a clever excavation rather than a linear narrative. This cleverly echoes the chronic sense of dislocation found in post war Poland. Angela

‘THIS IS ME’ – a short film by Josh Pickup

“’This is ME’ is a short film exploring ‘Spoon Theory’ told through the eyes of a young woman living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME. The film follows Ally’s struggle to get across town in time for a job interview – an experience I had myself a few years ago whilst learning to cope with the illness.

“When the opportunity arose to make a short film for the Herne Hill Film Festival, the task of condensing my ME experience into a three-minute film seemed unachievable (turns out it was!). I had been working on a feature length script intermittently for a number of years so I eventually decided to take just one scene from that script and adapt it in order to give a broader picture of invisible disabilities in general.

Christine Miserandino’s ‘spoon theory’ is for me, and millions of others, our easily digestible metaphor for explaining to others the rapid depletion of energy we experience from hour to hour. Without giving away too much, I wanted to use Miserandino’s disability metaphor (where spoons represent units of energy) as a visual guide for both Ally and the audience.

“For those unfamiliar with spoon theory, I hope the film intrigues you enough to cause a ‘googling’ of the term when you get home. For everyone else, I apologize in advance for delaying the start of ‘Cold War’ – I am looking forward to it as much as you!”              Josh.

Press report – Southwest Londoner Lucas Hill-Paul

“Josh Pickup, 29, was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, at the age of 21. ME is among the most common invisible disabilities, with up to 1 in 250 people living with the condition in the UK, and some feel that the name chronic fatigue syndrome is inaccurate, furthering its stigma. Mr Pickup said: “Someone explained to me that calling ME chronic fatigue syndrome is like calling stomach cancer chronic upset tummy. It’s not just tiredness, it’s a fatigue on the cells of your body.

“The film was entered as part of Herne Hill Free Film Festival’s 48 Hour Film Challenge, but due to its length of 5:51 was too long to be considered for any awards. Despite this, festival organiser Tom Worth felt it was important to screen the film at the ceremony on Sunday 26 May, where it received an excellent reception. The film’s crew shot and edited the short within just two days, and Mr Pickup was overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to get involved, including 400 young actresses applying for the lead role. Actress Lily Walbeoffe ended up securing the role of Ally, whose experiences in the film mirror Mr Pickup’s struggle with the disease. “Almost all of them had written long, inspiring letters. Lily’s audition tape blew me away and I knew I didn’t want anyone else to play Ally,” he said.

“As well as bringing attention to ME in hope of destigmatising current attitudes towards hidden illnesses, This is ME also explores ‘spoon theory’, a common point of discussion in the UK’s disabled communities. The term was coined by Christine Miserandino, a blogger with Lupus, who used spoons as a metaphor to describe units of energy. Mr Pickup said: “Healthy people have essentially an unlimited number of spoons. They do everything Ally does in the film, and they don’t really think about the energy. People with chronic illnesses have to think consciously about how to delegate spoons for everything they need to do that day.” There is currently no grant for disabled filmmakers in the UK, and Mr Pickup is in the process of finding more funding to extend the film beyond its short runtime. He said: “The result of it has been life-changing. It turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done.”



            Weighted vote 81.67%