The Cinema of the Absurd: Eastern European Film 1960–1989

March 26–May 15, 2020

A series of stark, scathing, and playful films from the former socialist republics of Eastern Europe, where absurdity was a fact of life under authoritarian rule—and a source of cinematic creativity.

Read full description
  • I Hate Mondays

  • The Witness

  • The Barnabas Kos Case

  • March, March! Tra-Ta-Ta!

  • What Would Happen If . . .

  • Upcoming
    Films
  • Past
    Films
  • Past
    Events

Upcoming Films

  • CANCELED: The Reenactment

    Lucian Pintilie
    Romania, 1968

    All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more

    BAMPFA Student Committee Pick!

    • Thursday, April 2 7 PM
    Introduction by Gabriel M. Paletz

    The police force two friends to reenact a drunken crime on screen—with awkward results—in Lucian Pintilie’s masterful satire, voted best Romanian film of all time in a poll of Romanian critics.

    View Details

  • CANCELED: I Hate Mondays

    Tadeusz Chmielewski
    Poland, 1971

    All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more

    Digital Restoration
    Film to Table dinner follows

    • Saturday, April 4 5 PM
    Introduction by Gabriel M. Paletz

    This lighthearted comedy turns a dysfunctional Warsaw into a slapstick playground worthy of Jacques Tati, balancing criticism and lyricism in its portrait of the forgotten details of daily life in a socialist state.

    View Details

  • CANCELED: The Barnabáš Kos Case

    Peter Solan
    Czechoslovakia, 1964

    All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more

    Digital Restoration

    • Sunday, April 5 4:30 PM
    Introduction by Gabriel M. Paletz

    A humble triangle player in a city orchestra unexpectedly winds up its party director and, engorged with a taste of power, soon becomes a tyrant in Slovak director Peter Solan’s droll send-up of authority and hypocrisy.

    View Details

  • CANCELED: Case for a Rookie Hangman

    Pavel Juráček
    Czechoslovakia, 1969

    Digital Restoration

    • Saturday, April 25 5 PM

    Pavel Juráček imaginatively adapted part of Gulliver’s Travels into a sci-fi journey through socialist Czechoslovakia. The film’s allusions to uncomfortable truths caused it to be “banned forever.”

    View Details

  • CANCELED: Four White Shirts

    Rolands Kalniņš
    USSR, 1967

    Digital Restoration

    • Thursday, April 30 7 PM

    An idealistic singer in a fledgling Latvian rock band fights censorship and indifference in this inventive musical, which earned comparisons to the French New Wave. With Gyula Gazdag’s The Selection, a Hungarian take on the intersection of socialism and rock ’n’ roll.

    View Details

  • What Would Happen If . . .

    Gerhard Klingenberg
    East Germany, 1960
    • Sunday, May 10 7 PM

    Released the year before the building of the Berlin Wall, this farce imagines the relocation of a village from East to West Germany. With Vlastimil Venclík’s Czech short The Uninvited Guest, on a couple confronting—then growing accustomed to—an intruder.

    View Details

  • The Asthenic Syndrome

    Kira Muratova
    USSR, 1989
    • Friday, May 15 7 PM
    Introduction by Stanislav Menzelevskyi

    Legendary director Kira Muratova’s demented chronicle of the absurdities and insults of post-glasnost Soviet life takes its title and cues from a psychological condition that alternates between maniacal aggression and apathetic inaction. “A movie that breaks all the rules” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

    View Details

Past Films

  • CANCELED: March, March! Tra-Ta-Ta!

    • Saturday, March 28 5 PM
    Raimondas Vabalas
    USSR, 1965

    All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more

    Digital Restoration

    A Baltic Duck Soup about the dispute between two nations over a desert borderland, this ambitious, playful film makes colorful fun of fascists and imperialists, patriotism and dogmatism, in a burst of creative satire made the same year as Dr. Strangelove.

  • CANCELED: The Witness

    • Thursday, March 26 7 PM
    Péter Bacsó
    Hungary, 1969

    All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more

    Digital Restoration

    A bumbling protagonist fails at a series of assignments before finally showing defiance in this recently restored Hungarian classic, whose acerbic humor and political critique made it renowned in the Soviet bloc. “As broadly entertaining as it is bold” (New York Times).