Remember when certain types of hetero sex were acts of political rebellion? Don’t fret if you don’t — those days will return soon enough if the Republicans and evangelicals have their way. In anticipation, as it were, tonight brings the bracing opening shot in a straight-no-chaser retrospective of the Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski. In a frantic race against complacency and death, Szamanka (The Shaman) traces the raw relationship between a Warsaw anthropology professor (Boguslaw Linda) and a wild young Italian woman (Iwona Petry). Linda had appeared in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blind Chance and was a charismatic action star at this point in his career. Petry, meanwhile, was a nonprofessional actress who gave an astonishing and scary performance. This was the first film the brazenly subversive Zulawski shot in Poland after the demise of communism; the loopy, manic adaptation of Manuela Gretkowska’s screenplay calls into question the power of freedom as well as its limits. The five-film series, “From a Whisper to a Scream: Discovering Andrzej Zulawski,” is informed by the suffering of World War II, the corrupted utopianism of postwar socialism, and the fist of totalitarian repression. Fucking, in Zulawski’s world, isn’t a pleasurable pursuit, but an unapologetic assertion of being alive.
Thu., May 3, 7:30 p.m., 2012