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Elderly Polish actress Krystyna Feldman's uncanny cross-dressing role
MY NIKOFOR, Poland, 2004.
Director Krzysztof Krauze, starring Krystyna Feldman image1.jpeg
Viewed at the 2004 Valladolid Film Festival, this film recounts the last eight years of the strange life of Nikifor Krynicki, famous Polish unschooled vagabond "naive artist".
The festival's Best Actress award went to veteran Polish actress Krystyna Feldman for her amazing portrayal, at her current age of 85, of an illiterate, homeless old man, Nikofor, who was also a naive self-taught painter of genius in XXth century Poland. Since the death of Kieslowski nearly a decade ago Polish films have been painfully absent from the major festival scene, however, this film entitled "My Nikofor" by Krzystof Krause may signal the beginning of a new Polish wave which has been building for some time, but is still waiting for a push in the right direction. This bio-pic of the homeless artist who died in 1968 and whose genius was only recognized at the very end of his strange undocumented life (he didn't even have a birth certificate and nobody knew his real name for sure) is clearly a labor of love set in the wintry mountains of Krynica Spa in South Poland, where the artist lived most of his life, and filmed, according to director Krauze, whenever possible from the angle of a Nikofor painting. Having a woman play the role of this man was an unusual directorial decision, to say the least, but totally validated by actress Feldman's uncannily accurate performance - - a tour de force that turned out to be the capstone of her long career. To get into the role, dressed for the part, the actress actually went begging for food at the Krynica museum and people complained to the police about this "stinking old man"!
Krystyna Feldman was a busy actress in Polish films and TV series for six decades and kept working right up to the end of her long life. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 90.
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