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A tragicomedy of modern Poland

Mateusz Kościukiewicz is the protagonist of Mug.

Mateusz Kościukiewicz is the protagonist of Mug.

The Polish film Mug will be screened this evening at Pjazza Teatru Rjal as part of the main competition of the Valletta Film Festival.

The film centres on Jacek (Mateusz Kościukiewicz), a man with long hair and good looks, and a cool guy compared to his fellow citizens in rural Poland. He loves heavy metal, walking his dog, bombing around his little car and being the local misfit. He and his shallow girlfriend Dagmara (Małgorzata Gorol), whom he hopes to marry, enjoy dancing and generally having a good time.

While working at a building site where the world’s largest statue of Jesus is being constructed, Jacek’s carefree existence is thrown into chaos when he suffers a terrible accident – he falls down the inside of the statue and ends up horribly disfigured. The doctors manage to save his life and he becomes the first face transplant patient in Poland, but he remains badly disfigured.

While the Polish media celebrate him as a national hero and martyr, he can no longer recognise himself when he looks in the mirror. Dagmara deserts him, his mother cruelly says that his face is no longer that of her son  and while the statue of Jesus grows taller and taller, the local Catholic priest offers him little sympathy.

The only person who stands by him is his sister (Agnieszka Podsiadlik) who has her own problems with two small children and an only partly satisfying marriage.

She helps Jacek with his rehabilitation to cope with his new reality but she feels trapped by the cruelty and small mindedness of the residents of his small town and tries to help Jacek to get out.

Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska, who won best director at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015 for her film Body, approaches the story as a fable of modern Poland. Told as a tragicomedy, she takes an acerbic look at life in rural Poland, the role of the Catholic Church, the intolerance of Polish society and the forces of consumerism and bigotry.

Other screenings/events today

At St James Cavalier Cinema:
Genesis 2.0 at 1pm
Short film programme C at 3pm
Green Days by the River at 5pm
Island of the Hungry Ghosts at 7pm
Don’t Be Nice at 9.15pm

At Embassy Cinemas:
Amateurs at 2pm
Styx at 4pm
Pin Cushion at 6pm
Don’t Forget Me at 8.30pm

At Valletta Campus Theatre:
The Draughtsman’s Contract at noon
Ma’Ohi Nui, In the Heart of the Ocean My Country Lies at 2.30pm
The Widowed Witch at 4.30pm
The Seventh Seal at 6.30pm
Ethiopiques – The Revolt of the Soul at 8.45pm

Talk on history of Ethiopian music

French music journalist Francis Falceto will deliver a masterclass about the history of Ethiopian music – a rich and diverse musical tradition that stretches back thousands of years – and the way it was influenced by the religious, political and social changes that took place in the country from 1897 to date.

It will be held in the Music Room at St James Cavalier at 5pm.

Admission is free but subject to reservation via www.vallettafilmfestival.com.

Mug will be screened at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Valletta, today at 9pm. For tickets and information about other films showing at the festival, visit www.vallettafilmfestival.com. The Valletta Film Festival, which runs until Sunday, is supported by Arts Council Malta.

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