The last thing you might expect to see in a film festival showcasing contemporary Polish cinema is a portly Val Kilmer giving a motivational speech in a roller rink. But that’s a concise description of the first scene of The Fourth Dimension (Oct. 28, 9 p.m., Revue Cinema), the international compilation film that is also the Ekran Toronto Polish Film Festival’s splashiest local premiere.
Opening with quotes from noted thinkers such as Albert Einstein and Marty McFly, and produced by Vice magazine, The Fourth Dimension is a series of three sideways meditations on time and space, intended as a showcase for would-be boundary-pushing filmmakers. For instance, the Kilmer-centric opening section is directed by Harmony Korine, who gives his unhinged star as much room to play as he did James Franco in Spring Breakers (though the performance isn’t quite as hilariously memorable).
Perhaps realizing that he can’t compete with Korine’s neon-tinged savant-garde hijinks, Polish newcomer Jan Kwiecinski strips things down during his turn at bat. His concluding segment, entitled Fawns, takes place in a deserted rural town whose populace has fled an impending flood (and failed to turn the warning sirens off on the way out). The only people left in this town are four teenagers who proceed to have way more fun than Will Smith did in I am Legend. Their debauched conduct may be connected to the absence of any supervising adults, but Kwiecinski doesn’t write his characters off as punks. Instead, he creates a narrative turn that obliges them
to confront their callowness while slyly undermining his own horror movie set-up.
There aren’t any actual zombies in The Suicide Room (Oct. 26, 7 p.m. Revue Cinema), but the characters generally behave like the living dead. It’s a chilly contemporary morality play about (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) the pitfalls of social media. Humiliated by a surreptitious video of same-sex snogging that goes viral, well-heeled teen Dominik (Jakub Gierszal) retreats into a virtual realm where he becomes subordinate to a mysterious, masked woman on a webcam. His online activities are visualized as an animated 3-D online role-playing game, a clever but ultimately overused conceit that distracts from the fact that the film’s human characters—including and especially Dominik’s vile upper-class parents—are barely even two-dimensional.