Polish artist and filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk, who died in France in 2006, was a talented designer and illustrator who authored political cartoons and posters during the artistically fertile communist period, plus an ingenious animator who would go on to make live-action films. The eroticism of these features, many of them filmed in France, alienated some of his viewers. Borowczyk’s artistic reclusiveness, and the unclassifiable nature of his work, contributed to his being forgotten in his native country. But now he’s back in the spotlight, with retrospectives devoted to him recently mounted at T-Mobile Horizons in Wrocław, the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London, and at the Gdynia Film Festival, thanks to the efforts of filmmaker Daniel Bird, a longtime champion.
The retrospectives, which have included recent restorations, are helping to bring focus to Borowczyk’s formal inventiveness in all of his films, animation and live action alike—to his refined pictorial style and his boldness in attacking cultural taboos. Violence, sex, morbidity are the hallmarks of his work, which brings him close to the master of sexual terror, Pier Paolo Pasolini. Borowczyk is also the subject of a new documentary currently in production, by Polish critic and curator, Kuba Mikurda. A new publication, Boro, L’Île d’Amour: The Films of Walerian Borowczyk, co-edited by Mikurda, Michał Oleszczyk, and Kamila Kuc, scheduled to be released in August 2015, will bring a more extensive look at Borowczyk, both individual works as well as a philosophical framework for his entire oeuvre. A new DVD/Blu-Ray set, The Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection has also been released by Arrow Films, with a book of essays co-edited by Michael Brooke and Daniel Bird.