Best of Polish to be shown on UK TV in ‘Polish Season’ screenings
June sees the launch of a Polish Season on British television screens with a total of five Polish series to be shown on different Channel 4 channels in the upcoming months showcasing the finest of Polish writing, directing and acting for the small screen.
The season commenced on the 4th of June with the ‘The Defence’, based on a crime novel ‘Zaginięcie’ by Remigiusz Mróz and starring award-winning actress Magdalena Cielecka as a respected lawyer who agrees to help her friends when their baby goes missing.
All of the series feature under Channel 4’s ‘Walter Presents’ programming line, a curated stream of programmes focused on the best in foreign language content and named after Walter Iuzzolino, the television producer who selects them.
The criteria for selection according to Iuzzolino are that the series must be popular in their native country, they must be award-winning or critically acclaimed and they must have a ‘quality benchmark’ meaning that they display the finest writing, directing and acting each country has to offer.
Two of the most hotly anticipated series in the season, ‘Raven’ and ‘The King of Warsaw’ recently premiered at the 19th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London, also marking the first time that the film festival included television series in its programme.
‘The King of Warsaw’ is based on a novel by Szczepan Twardoch, which was recently awarded the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development Literature Prize for the best book from Europe which has been translated into English.
The series, set in interwar Warsaw in 1937 visually reveals an ethnically diverse Warsaw which may surprise viewers unfamiliar with Poland’s pre-war history. It also shows Warsaw as a glamourous and vibrant place which it was before its almost complete destruction during WWII and which once earned it the nickname of the ‘Paris of the East’.
The series also explores a criminal underworld and vivid characters such as the main character Jakub Szapiro, an ambitious gangster.
Michał Żurawski, who plays Szapiro in ‘The King of Warsaw’ told TFN: “I think foreign viewers will find the ethnic diversity shown in The King of Warsaw really interesting and they can definitely find out a bit about the history of Poland before WWII from watching the series.”
The series is directed by Jan P. Matuszyński who directed the critically acclaimed cult biopic about the artist Zdzisław Beksiński – ‘The Last Family’.
‘Raven’, directed by Maciej Pieprzyca, also stars Żurawski in the title role, follows a police officer Adam Kruk, who has a broken spine and an addiction to prescription painkillers. When he receives a visit from a childhood friend, he persuades him to return to Białystok, the city of their youth to lead an investigation related to the molestation of children at the orphanage where they grew up, but shortly afterwards, he is summoned to another shocking investigation.
Set in the Polish region of Podlasie, which is likely to be lesser known to foreign audiences, Żurawski describes ‘Raven’ as a “being a combination of Polish folk spirituality with a criminal drama” which “has not been seen before in Polish television series”.
“Above all, I want to encourage people to watch these Polish series and be pleasantly surprised by the great content we have”, Żurawski added.
The Polish Season of Walter Presents has already started with ‘The Defence’ and will follow with ‘Raven’ on the 18th of June and ‘The King of Warsaw’ on the 13th of August and ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Angel of Death’ to follow later in the summer.