Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and International House Present
dir. Marcin Wrona, Poland, 2015, 94 min., in English/Polish/Yiddish w/English subtitles
Welcome to the most extraordinary wedding celebration! Polish weddings are renowned for their wild revelry. Excessive feasting, drinking, and dancing spill over into the wee hours of the morning and will often last past sunrise. So please come prepared and don’t say we did not warn you!
Piotr (Israeli actor Itay Tiran) had much to look forward to on the eve before his wedding day. He had just arrived from England to wed the most beautiful woman he has ever met, his fiancée Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska). After a traditional Polish church ceremony, the couple planned to celebrate their nuptials surrounded by friends and family at Zaneta’s family’s country estate. It was going to be the best day of Piotr’s life. Unfortunately for this bridegroom, not everyone felt the same. After finding skeletal remains buried on Zaneta’s family’s property, Piotr was understandably shaken; but it is not until his wedding night that he truly begins to unravel. Overtaken by ghostly manifestations and epileptic fits, Piotr sends his wife and in-laws into a frenzy as it becomes increasingly clear that Piotr is possessed by a Yiddish-speaking woman named Hannah. As the wedding party works overtime to keep its guests sloshed and ignorant of Piotr’s condition, this sinister, modern-day take on the Jewish dybbuk legend takes on new meaning.
Rooted in themes of historical denial of Poland’s troubled Jewish past, DEMON is adapted from Adherence, a 2008 play by noted Polish writer Piotr Rowicki. With the tragic death of DEMON’s young writer-director Marcin Wrona, announced shortly after the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, DEMON takes on further poignancy.