"11 Minutes": Excellent Reviews After World Premiere in Venice

September 9 at the 72nd Venice IFF marked the world premiere of 11 minut (11 Minutes), a film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. Screening in Main Competition, this Polish-Irish co-production has gained acclaim among Polish and international film critics alike.

La Repubblica: A Staggering Thriller

“Real cinema, in the traditional sense, is the staggering thriller by 77-year-old Polish director [Jerzy] Skolimowski, playing to the beat of rap. […] A staggering film built like a game: seemingly useless, yet dead serious,” reads the review of 11 minut (11 Minutes), written by Conchita de Gregorio for Italian daily La Repubblica.

El mundo – A Film That Takes One’s Breath Away

11 Minutes is the title of the Polish film. And indeed, the title itself is a statement. Everything that happens during the hour and a half of the breathtaking thriller that this film is, happens in exactly eleven minutes. […] And so the viewers are invited to keep their eyes glued to the screen in a cinematic exercise that resembles a fever,” writes Luis Martinez in his review of 11 Minutes for Spanish daily El mundo.

La Libération – A Masterful Visual Demonstration

Another favourable review of Jerzy Skolimowski’s latest film was written by Clément Ghys for French daily La Libération. “Applying chaos theory to cinema, showing ties between strangers, is a trick used extensively in independent cinema. But Skolimowski is completely balanced in this regard. […] Everything serves only as a pretext for movement, for editing, for celebrating cinema. […] Skolimowski is also a painter. In 11 Minutes, we see a pensioner, a Sunday artist who paints watercolour landscapes. Here, the director is like a pointillist with different images. There are fragments filmed using a phone camera, various digital cameras, and CCTV footage.” Clément Ghys calls 11 minut (11 Minutes) a masterful visual demonstration that also conveys mad anguish.”

Il Sole 24 Ore: The Power of Image and Sound

“With an impressive power of image and sound, Skolimowski creates a high voltage thriller where the suspense grows with the passage of minutes and the audience is not given a moment’s rest. The editing is perfectly timed, and even slow motion is used impeccably; what’s even more striking is a reflection on the banality of the meaning of the image in today’s world: the real and the virtual are intertwined, while any apocalyptic threat might as well be represented by a dead pixel, and vice versa.

A lesson in cinema — both anarchist and strict in its own way, while also strengthened by a powerful finale. Many of those present in Venice, especially on social media, are already clamouring for an award, which — once again — would be much deserved,” writes Andrea Chimento for Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore.

Gazeta Wyborcza: Candidate for the Golden Lion

According to Gazeta Wyborcza‘s Tadeusz Sobolewski, “11 Minutes truly deserves the Lion. We have yet to see a better candidate.” In the his review for Gazeta Wyborcza, Sobolewski writes: “the film tugs at many strings — be it our national fears that date back to the Second World War, Stalin and more recent events such as 9/11, the fears of communism and capitalism, but also the more universal fear of the unknown. [Skolimowski’s] poignant vision of Warsaw and the intertwining human fates, into which we are drawn suddenly — fates that catalogue the most mundane of transgressions — create a basis for the director of Identification Marks: None, Barrier and Hands Up! writes his own story. The world breaks down into pixels. We await the finale, feeling at peace. If someone asked what is the message of 11 Minutes, I would say it’s peace rather than action. This film both mimics and brutally parodies action movies.”

Tadeusz Sobolewski also notes where the film is set. “This film is set in a meticulously staged Warsaw environment, which is also clear to the foreign viewer: Warsaw as an apocalyptic place. The story is set mostly around Plac Grzybowski. The church bells of the Church of All Saints are ringing. The Palace of Culture peeks out from behind the skyscrapers. An airplane roars past the glass building of downtown Warsaw, as if flying too low. These shots emphasise our subliminal feeling of insecurity. We can sense the fragility of the peace and prosperity we’re enjoying these days. It is at once a summary of our contemporary fears, and an answer to these fears.

Rzeczpospolita – An Impressive Film

According to Barbara Hollender, “11 Minutes is an impressive film. It is a film about doom. About coincidence that can determine a person’s life. But it is also a story about the fragility of life. In May 2012, Jerzy Skolimowski lost his son. They had been estranged for years and were only rebuilding their relationship at the time. Skolimowski couldn’t recover from his son’s death for a long time. 11 Minutes was written in pain. That shines through. As does the question lingering behind these stories: how do we live, if a single day, a single moment could change everything?”

In the review for Rzeczpospolita, “11 Minutes looks as if it was filmed by a twenty-year-old looking for his own language in art, experimenting with film matter. Mikołaj Łebkowski’s jittery camerawork is edgy; in filming the prologue, the cinematographer actually uses iPhone and iPad cameras. The images change like in a kaleidoscope, the scenes cross over, everything is meticulously planned out down to the last details. No matter whom we see, the plane always flies by at precisely 5:05pm.”

Dziennik Polski – Venice Delighted with Jerzy Skolimowski’s Film

“A long standing ovation and shouts of delight. I don’t remember such an enthusiastic response to any film in Venice this year or last year. That’s the acclaim received by the only Polish film in the festival’s Main Competition: Jerzy Skolimowski’s 11 Minutes. It should immediately be said that Skolimowski’s feature is becoming the top awards contender. Four films are considered to have a real chance of winning the Golden Lion,” writes Artur Zaborski of the reception of 11 minut (11 Minutes) in Venice.

An article entitled “Venice Delighted with Jerzy Skolimowski’s Feature” in Dziennik Polski reads: “Skolimowski has both discipline and control over film matter. 11 Minutes is impressive in its skilful directing, an iron discipline in editing, and excellent performances (Andrzej Chyra, Agata Buzek, Mateusz Kościukiewicz). The most recent film by the creator of Four Nights with Anna is a conceptual case study. The director shows audiences how the fates of completely unrelated characters could be brought together in a single point. We see the eponymous eleven minutes in the lives of several characters. We don’t learn much about their background, we only accompany them in their brief episodes. Episodes that are well-written and compelling. There’s no time to be bored; there is always something happening.”

Onet Film – Major Chance for Top Award

“If we listen to the bookies’ grapevine, 11 Minutes is a strong contender for the top prize at the 72nd Venice film festival. If we trust the applause following the premiere and the reactions of journalists at the press conference, the chances seem to increase even more,” writes Ewa Szponar in an article for Onet Film.

Filmin – Sublimely Frantic and Feverish Editing

In a review of 11 Minutes for Spanish website Filmin, Joan Sala praises the film’s aesthetics: “In his voracious and explosive 11 Minutes, Jerzy Skolimowski shows that he has lost nothing of his unmistakeable panache, his driving force, and his provocative talk. Supported by a multi-narrative, with an ensemble cast, his new film is a powerful exercise in style, a devastating game with fate, expressed primarily through a sublimely frantic and feverish editing, with multiple changes in time (the minutes go forward and back, we see the same activities from different points of view), with constant changes in camera perspective, in an on-screen performance worthy of the films of Brian De Palma.”