• Pharmacy
  • Europa

The Avant-Garde Films of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson

Truly one of the most important film rediscoveries of recent years . . . [Europa is] a major lost work of the European avant-garde and an affirmation of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson’s important contribution to cinema history.

Benjamin Cook, LUX

Surrealist husband-wife duo Stefan and Franciszka Themerson were pioneers of the Polish cinematic avant-garde of the 1930s. Stefan, an architecture student, and Franciszka, a fine-art student, met in Warsaw in the late 1920s and began an innovative, collaborative film practice that parlayed trick photography, photograms, and collage techniques into radical works of experimental moving-image art. Of the five films they created in the prewar period, Europa, made in 1931, was their masterpiece: a kinetic condemnation of creeping fascism across Europe, based on Anatol Stern’s 1929 futurist poem of the same title. Until 2019 it was thought lost forever. Miraculously, a print was discovered in Germany’s national archive. Restored and featuring a newly commissioned soundtrack by Dutch musician-musicologist Lodewijk Muns, Europa forms the centerpiece of this tribute to the trailblazing Polish avant-gardists. The program also includes their three other surviving shorts, as well as reconstructions by artist Bruce Checefsky of two of their still-lost early films.

— Polish Cultural Institute

Presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York, with thanks to Tomek Smolarski. Preceded by a reading of selections from Stern’s 1929 poem “Europa.”

Films in this Screening

Pharmacy

Bruce Checefsky, United States, 2001

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • Silent
  • 4 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute

Europa

Stefan Themerson, Franciszka Themerson, Poland, 1931

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 12 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute

Moment Musical

Bruce Checefsky, United States, 2006

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 6 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute

Adventures of a Good Citizen
(Przygoda człowieka poczciwego)

Stefan Themerson, Franciszka Themerson, Poland, 1937

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 9 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute

Calling Mr. Smith

Stefan Themerson, Franciszka Themerson, United Kingdom, 1943

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • Color
  • DCP
  • 10 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute

The Eye and the Ear

Stefan Themerson, Franciszka Themerson, United Kingdom, 1945

FILM DETAILS 
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 10 mins
courtesy of
  • LUX Distribution
courtesy of
  • Themerson Estate
Additional Info
  • special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute