Heart of Refuge by Piotr Kamler Heart of Refuge by Piotr Kamler
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Heart of Refuge by Piotr Kamler

Polish animator Piotr Kamler (b. 1936) won the Grand Pix at Annecy in 1975 for his film Le Pas, but I’ve chosen to display an earlier film of his called Heart of Refuge (Couer de Secours, 1973). The visual imagery in this 1973 film is breathtaking, and it is cited by Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet as the film that inspired him to pursue a filmmaking career. I discovered more about Kamler on this blog though I’m unsure of the original source of the write-up:

Piotr Kamler was born in Warsaw in 1936. He is a graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art. In 1959 he went to Paris to continue his art studies. it was there that he came into contact with Research Department at ORTF( directed by Pierre Schaeffer) and began to collaborate with “concrete” musicians such as Xenakis on experimental shorts( musical abstract films and “fables”) The ORTF Research Department which was later taken over by INA, was a hothouse for talent, enabling diverse artists such as Peter Foldes, Robert Lapoujade , Jacques Espagne, Jacques Rouxel, Andre Martin and Michel Boschet, Jacques Colombat, Jean-Francois Laguionie, Henry Lacam and Kamler to carry out a large number of bold and innovative personal projects. With astonishing regularity, Kamler came up with no less than eight unusual short films between 1962 and 1973…Kamler’s animated cinema suggests a singular variety of science fiction; it was he who provided the original idea for the Shadoks TV series. Completely unalike to more conventionally linear and text-based narratives, Kamler’s films instead explore a series of dynamic visual motifs. Typically, the conclusion of these films is less suggestive of resolution, than it is of recurring episode. What is most striking in all his films is the variety of visual invention that Kamler brings to each work.

Kamler made a feature in 1982 called Chronopolis which is viewable online in its entirety at UbuWeb. There’s plenty of information about the film on Wikipedia.

Here’s one more of his films–The Spider Elephant. The short is from 1967, but with visuals as fresh and relevant as anything being produced today.

  • Kamler is great. I love his films. One of my all time favorite shorts is Une Mission Ephemere by him. It’s also on youtube:


  • I’ve always translated « CÅ“ur de secours » as “Heart Recovery” but that more literal translation sheds another angle on this rich, hallucinative film. Although Le Pas, though simpler (really another genre in all but mood), I think I would like even more if just weren’t for what I find to be overkill on repeated footage. Perhaps of note: when I first saw CÅ“ur de secours – my first Piotr Kamler film – from DVD it was without sound, and I thought little of it. Viewing it again with sound, I was enchanted by the visuals (the sound itself isn’t music, just that droning) and looking forward excitedly to viewing Le Pas (which is the other Kamler film on the aaa production DVD that I have). Though admittedly the difference between seeing it on a computer and a TV screen may have contributed as well.

    A 2 × DVD package (PAL and all regions) of Kamler’s Chronopolis, nine short films and a half-hour documentary on him is distributed in France under the title « À la recherche du temps ». I’m not sure what aaa’s Web site means by “in French, English and Polish” but there’s hope that that means English subtitles for the documentary and the intertitles in Chronopolis, as the self-published aaa DVD that I do have (the « 30 ans » one) has English menus and subtitles for almost everything.

  • GW

    Kamler is a brilliant filmmaker. Nobody seems to have the same sensibility for morphing and moving geometric objects that Kamler does. His films are more experiences than stories and I like that, because too often I feel like I’m being put on while watching films which are more narrative and character focused.

  • Michel Van

    i saw his brilliant shortmovie “la planet verte” from 1966
    made with sand animation
    its about a Report of human expedition to a strange alien planet
    who revolves around a death sun
    with his only lifeform, intelligent, old since aeon.
    “they” way of living is obnoxious incomprehensible
    sometimes “They” create out of nothing “inferior being”
    those consider by men as “God like”

    another wounderfull piece is “TROU” (Hole)