RIP Jagoda Murczyńska
Our wonderful colleague and dearest friend with whom we have had the privilege to share our passion for Asian cinema and create the Festival and other cultural projects for almost a decade, has passed away after a sudden heart failure, at the age of just 39.
Jagoda Murczyńska, our wonderful colleague and dearest friend with whom we have had the privilege to share our passion for Asian cinema and create the Festival and other cultural projects for almost a decade, has passed away after a sudden heart failure, at the age of just 39.
We cannot begin to describe the pain and sorrow of saying goodbye to Jagoda. We lost someone very dear to our hearts, a person who changed us for the better, infected us with her enthusiasm, intimidated us with her erudition, but also her warmth, sensitivity and kindness.
Jagoda loved Asian cinema and devoted herself to it completely. She believed it was important not only because of its unique artistic and aesthetic values, but also because it provided a window into the cultures and people of the most populous continent of the world.
She had an amazing eye for film gems, which she then acquired from artists and producers she befriended, or brought in from other film festivals. She was the champion of the work of female directors from Asia, and watched the growing importance of women in the film industry in recent years with joy and satisfaction. She loved the meetings with filmmakers – their arrival in Warsaw was always the greatest reward for the whole year of hard work put into the Festival.
She did work a lot. When she was already in the hospital, she was worried she won’t be able to record the next episode of the podcast on time, and couldn’t believe Hong Sang-soo’s film was in the Berlinale competition lineup again. She kept hundreds of open tabs with film sites in her browser, absorbing unimaginable amounts of knowledge. She knew everything about film events in Asia, which brought her the esteem of other Asian cinema experts all across the globe.
She wrote a lot, pouring her knowledge and emotions to paper. A master of words, she chose her spot-on metaphors better than anyone else. Her essays were filled with passion, and her short descriptions of films turned into lively, brilliant miniatures, which the viewers often felt were even more interesting than the films themselves. Her skills in this field were unparalleled, which everyone humbly admitted.
The video film introductions she recorded brought her a host of devoted fans all around the country. The viewers were eagerly waiting for a glimpse of her pink hair on the screen, knowing that her introductions, sparkling with their wise, subtle humor, will be crucial for an in-depth understanding of the films.
At work, Jagoda was like water – absolutely peaceful and composed, she could always get her way on merit. Ever kind and helpful, wise and supportive, she was a perfectionist, but she didn’t demand it from others.
She wanted to do what she believed in and she believed in what she did. She hated falseness and didn’t care for glitz or red carpets. She was straightforward and always close to Festival audiences. A vegan herself, she cared about the ethics of our activities, striving to reduce the production of unnecessary gadgets and printed materials. She paid attention to the representation of women filmmakers in the Festival program and she had a gift for spotting dehumanizing and stigmatizing language and actions, especially directed towards people of Asian origins.
Dazzling with her unique style, always dressed to the nines, Jagoda’s interest also included the theory of fashion and film costumes. In recent years, she was working on a book on costumes in Polish cinema, which is yet to be published.
Jagoda kept surprising us with new ideas. She had wonderful plans, big dreams, and a lot in store for her future. Her passing is not only a painful, unexpected tragedy for everyone who had the privilege of knowing her, but also a blow to the Polish film criticism. The void left by her personality, passion, and immense knowledge will be very hard to fill.
In a 2020 interview she said:
My first encounter with contemporary Asian culture was anime, Hayao Miyazaki’s films, of course. I saw Princess Mononoke and I was shaken and enthralled. In high school, I discovered Japanese dramas. Back then, we had little access to Asian cinema. Then came New Horizons, with the cinema of Ozu, Bollywood, but also Tetsuo and other films by Tsukamoto and fellow authors of the Japanese cyberpunk. Cinema turned out to be the ideal way to discover Asian reality and cultures, and to reach out to people, filmmakers and viewers.
At the Festival, we say that cinema can become a bridge between people. It may sound a bit pompous, but it is true – film culture connects people with passion for cinema, who spend hours on end discussing the film’s style and motivations of the protagonists, but through its metaphors, images, and narration, cinema also talks about places where we can never go, which we will never reach.
Our hearts go out to Jagoda’s partner, Kuba Mikurda, their daughter Emilka, and all their loved ones.
Ania, Agata, Kasia, Łukasz, Jakub, Marcin, Maja, Piotr, Przemek and Zosia
1982 – 2022
Expert in East and Southeast Asian cinema and its advocate. Graduate of the Jagiellonian University’s Center for Comparative Studies of Civilizations BA program and Applied Psychology MA program.
Since 2012, programmer and co-organizer of Five Flavours Asian Film Festival. Arteria Art Foundation’s board member. Author and editor of books, articles and podcasts. Her research interest included fashion theory, and the meaning and cultural importance of film costumes.
Editor of books Made in Hong Kong. Kino czasu przemian and Cicha eksplozja. Nowe kino Azji Wschodniej i Południowo-Wschodniej, which brought her the Polish Film Institute award for the best film book of 2017. Translator and editor of the Polish edition of Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema. Co-editor of Nie tylko Bollywood, Władczynie spojrzenia, Oblicza kina queer. She wrote for Kino, Ekrany and Dwutygodnik, her texts appeared in edited volumes, including Kino końca wieku. Historia kina, tom 4, for which she wrote the first Polish-language film study on the history of Southeast Asian cinema in the years 1980-2000. Together with Marcin Krasnowolski, she hosted a popular podcast Azja kręci.