Eleven years ago Vladek Juszkiewicz, the visionary director of the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles launched his celebration of Polish Film. Organized by the Polish American Film Society, PFFLA is now the largest Polish film festival In the US.
Building a strong network of Polish, Polish American and general film buffs, he steadily grew his festival until he attracted enough support from the Polish government, the Polish Film Institute and Polish Filmmakers’ Association, and TVP -Telewizja Polska, (as well as local sponsors) to be able to bring large delegations of actors and filmmakers to the annual week of films. The vital Q and A’s that follow the majority of films is one of the highlights of the ambitiously programmed fest.
The invitational Opening Night Gala Film John Kent Harrison’s “The Children Of Irene Sendler” (Dzieci Ireny Sendlerowej), will be shown in its Polish version at the Egyptian Theatre on April 20. Gala guests include Anna Paquin, Marcia Gay Harden, Goran Visnijc, composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, production designer Waldemar Kalinowski, Polish producers: Beata Pisula, Krzysztof Grabowski, American producers: Brent Shields, Jeff Most, Jeff Rice and director John Kent Harrison. Actors and directors Mateusz Damiecki, Marcin Dorocinski, Karolina Gorczyca, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Antoni Pawlicki, Adam Woronowicz and Leslaw Zurek will also attend.
The Pola Negri Award will be presented to Anna Paquin for portraying Irena Sendler and to Hugh Grant for portraying Frederic Chopin. Feature category jurors Matt Craven, Frances Fisher, Margaret O’Brien, Brett Ratner, Billy Dee Williams, and documentary jurors will present the Hollywood Eagle Award to the winners.
The 11th annual festival is held under the auspices of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Mr. Bogdan Zdrojewski.
Narrative features include “All That I Love” (Wszystko co kocham) by Jacek Borcuch, “Born Of The Sea” (Miasto z morza) by Andrzej Kotkowski, “The Corrupted” (Skorumpowani) by Jaroslaw Zamojda, “Black” (Czarny) by Dominik Matwiejczyk, “General Nil” by Ryszard Bugajski, “God’s Little Village” (U Pana Boga za miedza) by Jacek Bromski, “Janosik: The True Story” (Janosik. Prawdziwa historia) by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik, “The Lesser Of Two Evils” (Mniejsze zlo) by Janusz Morgenstern, “Limo Driver” (Limousine) by Jerome Dassier, “Little Moscow” (Mala Moskwa) by Waldemar Krzystek, “Love And Dance” (Kochaj i tancz) by Bruce Parramore, “Love On The Catwalk” (Milosc na wybiegu) by Krzysztof Lang, “My Flesh My Blood” (Moja krew) by Marcin Wrona, “Operation Danube” (Operacja Dunaj) by Jacek Glomb, “Pixels” (Piksele) by Jacek Lusinski, “The Reverse” (Rewers) by Borys Lankosz, “The Snow Queen” (Krolowa sniegu) by Maciej Michalski, “Snow White and Russian Red” (Wojna polsko-ruska) by Xawery Zulawski, “Trick” by Jan Hryniak and “Zero” by Pawel Borowski.
Celebrating the 200-year anniversary of Frederic Chopin’s birthday PFFLA will present “Impromptu” by James Lapine, “Chopin, Desire For Love“(Chopin. Pragnienie milosci) by Jerzy Antczak and the documentary “Chopin’s Afterlife” by Ophra Yerushalmi.
The documentaries are some of the most interesting films to come to LA. This year’s doc section includes: “Balcerowicz. All Or Nothing” (Balcerowicz. Gra o wszystko) by Andrzej Fidyk and Anna Wieckowska, “The City With No God” (Miasto bez Boga) by Jacek Petrycki, “Getting On” (Pogodna) by Renata Gabryjelska, “Journey To the Green Shadows” (Podroz do zielonych cieni) by Alicja Schatton,”Komeda-A Soundtrack For Life” (Komeda – muzyczne sciezki zycia) by Claudia Buthenhiff-Duffy, “Life Is Bearable. At Time” (Chwilami zycie bywa znosne) by Katarzyna Kolenda-Zaleska, “My Houston” (Moje Houston) by Edyta Sewruk, “Polish Eaglets Over Pakistan” (Polskie orleta na pakistanskim niebie) by Anna Teresa Pietraszek, “Rabbit A La Berlin“(Krolik po berlinsku) by Bartosz Konopka and “Yudok Stories” by Andrzej Fidyk.
Youth oriented films include “The Magic Tree” (Magiczne drzewo) by Andrzej Maleszka and the animated feature “Copernicus Star” (Gwiazda Kopernika) by Zdzislaw Kudla and Andrzej Orzechowski.
To commemorate the tragic news of the death of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria and scores of the country’s top political and military leaders, (whose plane crashed on the way to the site of a Soviet massacre of Polish officers in World War II) PFFLA has scheduled special screenings of Andrzej Wajda’s “Katyn” and Piotr Uzarowicz’s “The Officer’s Wife.”.
The sudden lost of Poland’s leadership is mourned worldwide. Ironically the crash happened days after Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin joined Polish premier Donald Tusk in commemorating the massacre at Katyn Woods. After decades of denying responsibility for the 1939 massacre of 22,000 Polish officers and civilians by Soviet secret police (they blamed the Nazis), Putin’s presence signalled a diplomatic step forward between Russia and Poland.
The festival runs screenings of Polish films throughout the year as well, frequently at the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian.
The fest’s main venue is the Laemmle’s Sunset 5. Weekend films will also show at UCLA School of Public Affairs, Room 2343; Regency South Coast Village Theatre at the South Coast Plaza and a special screening of “Born Of The Sea” at the LA Harbor International Film Festival, Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.