12th Annual Polish Film Festival Los Angeles


The 12th Annual Polish Film Festival Los Angeles returns to Los Angeles October 11-20. The opening night gala takes place at the Egyptian theatre (6712 Hollywood Blvd), continues at the Laemmle Sunset5 (8000 Sunset Blvd) and moves to the Armer Theater, California State University, Northridge for a panel and re-screening of “Essential Killing.”

The Invitational Opening Night Gala at the Egyptian Theatre. Polish Film festival have several sponsores and supporters, notale among them are: PISF – Polish Film Institute, POLAM Federal Credit Union, Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles, E.L.M.A. (European Languages and Movies in America), International Documentary Association and Cinema Without Borders.
will feature an Awards ceremony and a screening of “Black Thursday” (“Czarny czwartek”) by Antoni Krauze

The following Awards will be presented:
The Pola Negri Award to Jon Voight
The Piotr Lazarkiewicz Award for young talent-Marcin Walewski (youthful star of “Venice”)

The Hollywood Eagle Feature Award THE MOLE (“Kret”) by Rafael Lewandowski (Feature Jurors: George Chakiris, Larry Grobel, Larry Karaszewski, Jason Ritter, Peter Safran)

The Hollywood Eagle Documentary Award
DOWNTOWN by Marta Dzido & Piotr Sliwowski
(Documentary Jurors: Judy Chaikin, Arnold Schwartzman, Ivo Widlak)

The Hollywood Eagle Animation Award
PATHS OF HATE by Damian Nenow
(Animation Jurors: William Goldstein, Ashley Postlewaite, Olaf Wendt)

The festival continues at the Laemmle Sunset.

Poland continues to lead the world in sophisticated animation. Highlights of the several animation programs in this year’s festival include.
LAPFF is also showing Damian Nenow’s much AWARDed capture motion aerial dogfight “Path Of Hate.” The cutting edge animation house, Platage Image constructed a vase 3D model of the Alps, two model pilots and thousands of rivets and screws that were hand deployed.

Andrzej Jobczyk’s brilliantly abstract animation “Superstring” (“Superstruna”) blends animated and puppeteering in a fascinating mediation on the string theory (the theory of everything) 

Jadwiga Kowalska’s “The Girl and The Hunter” uses an artful combination of drawn flat animations and effects to tell its fabular story.
The line drawing characters sport gothy faces familiar from Tim Burton and other post modern cartoonists.  A girl sits on a rooftop weeping, her tears rolling off the roof onto the town square. Annoyed the hunter commands someone to raise an umbrella to stop her tears. He strides to the forest and kills a deer. Carrying his dead deer home he notices that the girl’s incessant weeping is causing a flood. He organizes the townsfolk to bail out the floodwaters, but soon, their town is submerged and they are left stranded on the highest rooftop. The hunter tries, but cannot shoot the weeping girl, the cause of all their problems. She slips under, but he pulls her from the waters, cradling her. She begins to smile. Now the townspeople begin to weep. The water recedes but before they can celebrate a thunderstorm hits.

In Balbina Bruszewska’s masterful “Goodness, Beauty And Truth” (“Dobro, piekno i prawda”) exquisite combination of black and white etched folon-esque drawings, live action inserts and colored characters collaged in a la Terry Gilliam create an evocative world to tell his moral tale. A traveler from a far off land comes to a big city from a place were people were good and respected each other. Surprised by the evil he finds in the big city, he builds a paper city to remember the good and kind people he had to leave. Carrying the tiny city in a small suitcase to keep it close. One day he discovers the paper city is alive and full of all the things he had imagined. He watches it and remembers. Outside the new world continues in it’s soulless way. An old woman murders a cat, his neighbor, a portly robe-incased couch potato, watches seamy live-action sex ads on his TV. In the paper city theatre he watches his favorite play, which replicates his own journey. Hoping to inspire others as the play inspired him, he visits the local theatre managers and proposes they mount the play, “Nowadays people are only interested in evil” (Nazi film footage illustrates the manager’s point.) One by one, all the managers turn him down, but the children he meets in the street listen to his story and watch his paper city live, curious to discover that they must defend goodness, beauty And truth.

The Rabbit’s Case
Jakub Wronski’s enchanting “The Rabbit’s Case” is a melancholy story of friendship. A pastel palette and faux naive style brings the anthropomorphic life of the two endearing characters alive. A train track POV the conductor. As the train passes, a fox, smartly dressed in a jacket, pulls a flattened coin off the track and shows his rabbit pal. The rabbit tries to flatten his own, but is terrorized by the speeding train. At home the trembling rabbit suffers an anxiety attack. Even the visit from the doctor and his injection can’t help the Rabbit’s condition. Soon he’s tucked in bed in the mental hospital. His fox roommate sits by his bedside. Taking his motorcycle, pal Fox picks up a sexy Ms. Rabbit and brings her to the hospital. She tries to apply cupping therapy but the quivering bun crawls into her medical cup. Fox takes Rabbit for a walk. A collaged visitation of the Virgin Mary, floating from her wayside shrine, is still not enough to heal the Rabbit’s suffering. A whirling newspaper headline urges him to go to an Ashram, The camera speeds overhead to a vast modern seaside city. Fox takes Rabbit on the back of his bike. Before they can reach the town a speeding train cause Rabbit’s relapse. As they sit in the rain besides the track the train stops and opens its door. Pal fox drags Rabbit onto a modern high-speed train. As a silken voice intones the train’s features, the hand drawn characters lounge in the train surrounded by live action figures.  A travel montage shows their round the world adventures, as the pair are superimposed onto a series of live action photos.

Natalia Budzynska’s stopped motion-puppetoon “Shivering Trunks” is a fable about envy. A narrator, seemingly a scientist or sociologist describes the action we’re watching through hidden cameras. Pafnucek’s an imaginary warthog like creature -a roly-poly fur ball with a trunk and horns, looks at himself in the mirror. The morose Paf confuses the faucet with the end of his own trunk. Walking through his toy laden apartment, he sits, pulls out a photo, which “affects him emotionally” and studies the role moles the slip close shaven creature Kalasanty (Kalas). Kalas stands proudly showing off his athletic build and the joyous expression of a successful man. With madness in his eyes, Paf shreds the picture. “It’s him or me,” he thinks. Grabbing his axe he decides to ice his rival. Roller-skating down the street, followed by surveillance cameras, he races to Kalsasanty’s place. But cameras spy on Kalas as well. He, too, looks in the mirror and appears dissatisfied. Kalas’ closet is full of rows of furry overalls. He pulls on a false trunk and dresses up as Pafnuceks. The doorbell rings. Pafed out Kalasanty open his door. Paf freezes, his axe in hand. Both are both shocked. A teary poignant moment of recognition and they fall into an embrace of mutual admiration, gushing and blowing each other’s trunks. We leave the new chums, on the couch. Just two happy critters.

Marta Pajak’s hand-drawn flat animation “Sleepincord” begins with a cord, which doubles and curls around itself. “Taking a line for a walk” as Paul Klee said, the string morphs onto people animals and finally large walking feet. The feet trip and fall. Panning upwards to where the face would be, we see a finely drawn sleeping woman, no longer a string fantasmagoria. She wakes, slumps on the edge of her bed and collapses. Reassembling into a “real etched in woman, she pulls on her stockings. Descending the stairs she strides the busy city streets, passing pedestrians, grocery shops subways. The city becomes a string drawn city. Back to her sleeping face. Starting to roll off the bed two pairs of hands catch her and support her sleeping body. Three mysterious figures lift her, carrying her drooping body around in a shuffling dance. They dunk her face in a bowl of blood. Each time the sleeping woman’s face goes under, she surfaces in a pool of water. Meanwhile the figures dress the seemingly dead woman and carry her out the door, trailing blood. Climbing out of the pool, she wanders in a heaven of string figures and sits at a chessboard. The “angels” sit the dead woman on a chair across from her. She wakes and both versions play chess. Everything unravels into morphing loops of string. She comes home and sees the blood, wipes it up, undresses and gets into bed. She stares at us and turns over to face her nude self, wide eyes staring, clutching the chess pieces from her dream, a third version, dresses in the outfit the mysterious people chose, curls up at the bottom of her bed. The mysterious figures sit and smoke and turn back to string, in this graceful, disturbing fantasia.

Feature Highlights include: “Venice”-Director Jan Jakub Kolski (“Pornografia”-Pornography) weaves the imaginative fancies of a sensitive child with the images of war in his handsome World War II feature “Venice” (Wenecja).

DP Arthur Reinhart, (“Tristan and Isolde”, “Tomorrow Will Be Better”) contributes a lustrous palette and moody compositions. As in his work on Kedzierzawska’s briiliant ‘”Wrony” (“Crows”), Reinhart recaptures the near magical realism of a child’s view of the world and adult hardships.

Kolski, whose family have been filmmakers for three generations, spent his formative years in the small village of Popielawy, which inspired many of his more magical realist films, as is this one adapted from three short stories by oft-censored Wlodzimierz Odojewski. Odojewski, a frequent contributer to the émigré magazine Kultura, headed cultural affairs at Radio Free Europe. His novel “Everything Will Be Covered By The Snow”, is considered a Polish classic.

It’s 1938. Eleven-year-old Marek lives in Warsaw with his cultured, wealthy, adulterous mother Joanna (Magdalena Cielecka) “Warsaw”). His soldier father Roman (Mariusz Bonaszewski) reappears for visits, apparently aware of his wife’s philandering. Marek’s idée fixe is to visit Venice. Year after year Marek’s family have made the pilgrimage to Venice, leaving young Marek at home, until he can “understand and appreciate” the city of marvels.

Boarding in a religious school, like his older brother Wiktor, Marek trains to be a Defender of the Polish homeland. (Patriotism and the Catholic religion are interwoven as in pre-war Poland.) Marek’s repetitive prayer, which he leaves wadded into a chink in the wall of the church, states the escapist theme of the film-“I don’t want to be here.”

To keep him safe, Marek is sent to his aunt’s Weronika’ crumbling estate in a small Polish village. Spinster aunts Barbara (Agnieszka Grochowska) and  Weronika try to make up for their wayward sister’s absentee mothering. Social butterfly Aunt Klaudyna (Julia Kijowska) deposits her daughter Karolina (Julia Chatys) with her governess Lillian (Dana Batulkowa) and returns to the city, where she plays hostess to politicians and the Polish officer class. Headstrong Weronika (Grazyna Blecka-Kolska) is given to healthful runs through the high grasses at dawn, barefoot in her slip.

Joanna and Klaudina come and go at the estate, where Marek, his brother, cousins and local children are home schooled and play their way through the war.

Kolski is an adept at fashioning fragile private worlds of escape. The aristocratic family continues their quasi Chekovian existence, hiking back to the fogged in manor as the chaotic changes of war surround them. Reinhart paints a lazy sun-dappled, or rain washed rural estate, where the bohemian gentry mix harmoniously with their Jewish farmer neighbors. Kolski’s richly constructed world, peopled with distinct characters, never loses sight of Marek’s inner journey, although a final scene, six years later, confuses.

Marek tries to make sense of the war, the troubling erotic desires of his elders, and the budding sexuality of his older playmates, cousin Karolina (Julia Chatys), Zuzia (Hanna Kuzminska) and servant Frosia (Weronika Asinska) who vie for his time.

Joanna escapes the war through romance. Her visits are the highlights of young Marek’s summer. When she packs and leaves abruptly, supposedly to work for the White Cross, her “moral obligation”, Marek chases his mother and her “driver” down the road, and watches them make love. Nothing is as it seems.

Discovering their storm-flooded cellar, his aunt’s enjoy the mineralized river water, and keep the secret of the flooding from the locals. Dr. Kazimierz Zaruba (Piotr Siwkiewicz) is appalled when the children offer some of the water to the “filthy Jews”. They “carry disease.” Weronika mocks him, drinking from the same cup. But quisling Zaruba’s stock is rising and he will get his revenge. He’s useful to the invading Germans.

Marek transforms the flooded cellar into the starry Venice of his dreams. Dressed like a gondolier, he conducts rides in a washtub, and arranges a Venetian Carnival, where costumed relatives listen to his concert pianist aunt performs on a half-submerged piano, until sadistic camera happy Nazi Officer von Rasmus (Bohdan Swiderski), with his pretensions to culture, interrupts their games. Head of a propaganda unit, von Rasmus poses the masked aristocrats for “candid” shots of the odd underground Carnival (Van Rasmus’s wife has begged him for photos.) Zaruba leads the Germans to their cellar.

Marek’s brother Wiktor joins the resistance, and as a self-styled agent of the Underground State revenges himself on Zaruba.

First time young actors play with the aplomb of the veteran ensemble:
Filip Piotrowicz as Wiktor, Franciszek Serwa as tragic Naumek Perlman, a Jewish violin prodigy shot on the road for refusing to give the German officer his violin, Hanna Kuzminska (young Zuzia) and Katarzyna Oleksiak (Zuzia – age 16) as the sexually curious local girl who grew up with Marek, all give wonderful performances. Grazyna Blecka-Kolska (“Pornografia”) who plays Weronica, is Kolski’s wife.

“Venice” won Best Artistic Contribution Prize at the 34th Montreal World Film Festival and four Eagles at the 13th Polish Film Awards: Artur Reinhart- “Best Cinematography”, Joanna Macha- “Best Set Design”, Małgorzata Zacharska-“Best Costumes”and Jacek Hamela for “Best Sound”. At the Gdynia Polish Film Festival 2010, “Venice” won individual Awards for cinematography (Arthur Reinhart), art direction (Joanna Macha) and acting debut (Marcin Walewski- also recognized for his role in “Three Minutes.”)

“Little Rose”-Jan hKidawa-Blonski’s “Little Rose”, the gripping Polish post-war intelligence drama failed to make the shortlist for the 2010 Golden Globes Best Foreign film.  It would have made mine.

“The Mole”- Polish-French Lewandowski graduated from the French film school Le Femis in 1996. His series of documentary films (“Hearings”,” Children of Solidarnosc”, “Cela” and “A Shadowed Gaze”) focused on the themes of WW ll prisoner camp survivors. He also interviewed over a hundred former prisoners, Resistance fighters and children hidden during the war, for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Audiovisual History Archive Foundation.

Lewandowski carries the theme of history and personal memory into his first narrative feature “The Mole”(“Kret”).

A founding member of Solidarność in Silesia, Zygmunt (Marian Dziędziel) is a hero of the struggle against totalitarianism. During the New Boleslaw Mine Strike, he was considered a local leader, even urging resistance when others began to back down.

His daughter-in-law Ewa (Magdalena Czerwińska), orphaned when her father was killed in the Strike, has “martyr of the struggle against totalitarianism” status. Feted in an annual commemorative ceremony (which is where Ewa and Zygmunt’s son Pawel met) the martyrs receive a special pension from the Polish state.

Seeking justice for her father’s death, Eva participates in the third trial of officers involved in the crackdown, where she’s treated like the poster child by the media.

Pawel (Borys Szyc) and his father Zygmunt import used clothes from France to Southern Poland. One of their regular customers is furious. Waiting for women’s’ winter coats for weeks, he rails at them “all you bring is bags of summer clothes”. Pawel tries to work it out, promising coats next week without fail. Patriotic Zygmunt dismisses their client as a “fucking Arab”.

They travel the roads between the north of France (the Mining Basin of Nord-Pas-de-Calais), a Polish diaspora in France, where mining communities were established in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Zygmunt’s cousin Tadeusz (Sławomir Orzechowski) lives and works in France, returning on occasional trips and sending gifts and money to the family back home. An important figure in the Franco-Polish community, he is about to launch their new Polish Cultural Center. These self-satisfied immigrants idolize their nostalgic memories of Poland but have little knowledge of their complex post Soviet homeland.

On the way back from their selling trip, the radio and TV is abuzz with the latest trials of the officers responsible for the New Boleslaw Mine Massacre. Officer Garbarek, who knows everything, has come forward. The State is about to reveal the name of secret Mole, a Solidarity informant. Zygmunt dismisses it as a circus, a change for old timers to go for each other’s throats.

Imagine everyone’s shock when the papers and TV are filled Zygmunt’s face, outing him as The Mole, The Traitor. Entering the courthouse, Ewa is hounded by the media, who also lay in wait for Zygmunt.

Bombarded by TV Internet and headlines, stunned Pawel follows everything from from their road trip. He refuses to believe the charges and insists that Zygmunt mount a defense to clear his good name. At first, all the witnesses interviewed on the news tell stories of Zygmunt’s heroic leadership, but the longer he stays away the more local suspicion mounts.

Loyal Tadeusz drags the depressed Zygmunt to the banquet celebrating the new Polish Community Center. As dancing couples in traditional Polish garb swirl around them, Tadeusz proudly introduces his cousin Zygmunt as a True Hero, a victim of a vicious smear campaign, and the community vows to support his defense, as they once supported him when he was imprisoned for his Solidarity activities.

Tadeusz advises him to stay in France till it blows over. Fearful Zygmunt decides to stay, but not before revealing the family reasons that forced him to become the State’s Mole, and ultimately, the betrayer of Solidarity and the striking minors. His guilty secret becomes Pawel’s.

Ewa and Pawel compare notes on their cells. Pawel urges him to confront the accusations. “He has to go back and defend himself.” Zygmunt knows better, “The Reds want revenge.” What Reds? You see them under the bed, Dad. Look forward, not back. Your Poland doesn’t exist” argues Pawel who sees things in moral black and white.

But Pawel, like many of his generation, children of the post totalitarian Poland, can’t imagine the twisted roots and compromises their elders faced to survive, and the confused loyalties they’ve maintained.

At home, Pawel’s former colleagues and business customers turn against him and his marriage to Ewa is shaken to its roots. An encounter with Secret Police Officer Garbarek shows him the terrors his father faced. By the time the film is over, Pawel has made a choice to protect his family and must live walled off behind his own guilty secret.

The struggles between Zygmunt and Pawel and Eva represent the complex cultural divide between the right and left and the communist and post communist generations regarding the opening of the archives of the communist regime. Although access to these files remains very limited, every public official in Poland is required to sign a “declaration of non-collaboration” with the former secret police. The process, know as “Lustration” is particularly painful and ineffective in Poland, as it ignores the complex Totalitarian state Poland had become.

As Lewandowski said in the film’s press notes” By forcing the accused to respond in a simplistic way to what was a very complicated system, “lustration” does not take into account the reasons for which the purported “collaboration” took place. Whether it was the result of communist sympathy or blackmail, this confirmation of “collaboration” generates a summary judgment in the public eye that precludes any search for forgiveness or reconciliation. “

“The Christening” – Marcin Wrona’s “The Christening” (Chrzest) begins as a reunion between two old friends- returned soldier Janek (Tomasz Schuchardt) and Michal (Wojciech Zielinski. Michal left his hometown and moved to Warsaw. He seems to have it made, living with beautiful wife Magda (Natalia Rybicka), their newborn son in a luxury high-rise apartment. He’s a successful window salesman. From his terrace he surveys countless windows he’s installed, as far as the eye can see.

Janek, whose annoying laugh, crude jokes and nervous giggle mark him as lout, arrives at Mikal’s home and makes Magda ill at ease. Mikal gets back from work, shows off his life and asks Janek to become his son Adam’s godfather. Janek’s shocked, “Why?” “Because I know you well” assures old pal Mikal.

The two booze it up, reminisce. Mikal shows off his high-speed car.  Janek asks him to hook him up with the Fat Man. “I don’t do that anymore”, is Mica’s terse response. Their shared past of petty crime emerges. The bill for their shared life of petty crime has been sent and soon both will have to pay.

In the week leading up to the christening, Mikal takes Janek to his window factory and offers him a job.  Janek has no interest. He expects to resume his criminal activities.

Fat Man’s thugs pick Janek up and clue him in. MIkal bought his way out of a drug bust by shopping the gang leader’s brothers to the police. MIkal’s days are numbered. The only reason he’s still alive is the enormous fee he pays them daily.

Janek confronts him. Mikal reveals he’s got enough money for several more days and then he’s tapped. He has just enough to get through the christening. Mikal’s never shares his problems with his loyal wife. She assumes Janek is the reason for Mikals melt down.

At first Janek tries to figure out how to save his boyhood friend.
Mikal has his own agenda. He’s setting godfather Janek up to care for his young family. He provokes Magda. “He’s handsome, isn’t he?” “She’s a good, hard-working girl” is his pitch to Janek.

Janek tries to talk the gang out of their revenge plans. “Do you want to pay for him? He chose to squeal. This is his own fault”, explains the implacable gangster. Without asking him, Janek’s enlisted on a protection call.
A man is tortured and murdered in front of his wife.

His masters raise the stakes on him, reminding him who he owes fealty to.
Janek’s expected to finish him off. Sickened, he complies. They leave the woman locked in a freezer, pounding hopelessly on the door, as the boss presses a wad of walk around money into his hands. Janek tosses the blood money and runs, but his leash is tightening.

Wrona’s good at moral ambiguity. His understated, bleak view of intimacy adds an interesting wrinkle to a crime story that pushes the violence to the side to focus on relationship and loyalty issues.

On the day of the christening, Wrona rachets up the suspense. In laws gather, platitudes are spoken, promises are made, ambiguous farewells are voiced. The gangsters lurk out side in their car like the furies in a Greek drama. As time runs out, Mikal addresses what it means to provide for his family, and Janek balances between saving his friend and saving his own life.

“The Christening” won Silver Lions Awards for Best Film and for Producers
Leszek Rybarczyk and Marek Rudnicki as well as individual Awards for lead actor Wojciech Zielinski and editor Piotr Kmiecik at the Gdynia Polish Film Festival 2010.

“Joanna” by Felix Falks- World War ll, Warsaw. A well-dressed mother (Joanna Gryga) treats her young daughter to a birthday cake. Anxious, looking over her shoulder, she gives her daughter a bracelet and urges her to finish up. As they are leaving an oily man seated nearby calls her over to the table and begins asking threatening questions. The vigilant mother sends her daughter to the Church to wait for her. Before the SS man can finish his blackmail, Nazi soldiers raid the cafe and arrest her. Roundups of Jews have become a daily occurrence.

The little girl waits in the dimly lit church. Sneaking out at night, she walks the empty streets.  Waitress Joanna (Urszula Grabowska) recognizes her and takes her home.

Joanna lives alone in an apartment, waiting to hear if her soldier husband Zbyszek will return or was killed in the war. She works in a cafe.
Róza  (Sara Knothe) saw the soldiers; she has a good idea what happened. Comforting young Róza, Joanna feeds her and puts her to bed. and promises to look for her mother.

A friend working at the Town Hall, now the German HQ, promises to help Joanna track her missing “friend” arrested at the Cafe.

Joanna bonds with Róza, hiding her presence from her worried family and the nosy landlady Kaminska (Stanislawa Celinska) and her persistent questions.

Both Kaminska and Joanna’s mother (Halina Labonarska) warn her to register another resident in her large apartment. Worried about keeping Róza safe, she stalls. Suspicious Kaminska finds her a buyer for her piano. But pianist Joanna won’t give it up. It’s her last tie to her missing husband.

They develop a ritual. Róza has a hiding place when people come calling. She’s warned to stay away from the window, Maternal Joanna brings her books toys and clothes, things her married sister Ewa (Izabela Kuna), “donates” to her for the orphanage she supposedly works at.

The cafe is shut down. Educated Joanna is out or work. Following a lead about a Post office job, she lands a job as one of the commandant’s office washwomen. (She drops a made up name to get in to see Officer Lucjan
(Andrzej Konopka). Canny Lucjan’s on to her but hires the pretty applicant anyway.

Joanna’s cultured mother is appalled. Joanna’s father (Leszek Piskorz) an economist is lucky to keep his job at the railroad.  Joanna, who once worked at a museum sighs, “The good times are over.”

Joanna’s co-worker Mrs. Staszka Kopec (Kinga Preis) also waiting for her soldier husband to reappear, has become someone’s mistress. “I have mouths to feed” practical Ewa explains, Her peddler (Jewish?) lover brings clothes and candy for the kids. “You have husband,” says the shocked Joanna. “When he returns I’ll still be his wife. It’s good to have someone to cuddle, to have some fun.”

Joanna’s choice over lover is forced on her. The Germans search her apartment.  Clever Róza hides in the stairwell. The lonely German Major, fascinated by Joanna’s French books borrows one. Returning late one night, he discovers the hidden Róza. Joanna offers herself as a bribe, and their relationship begins. When the Major Joachim Paul Assböck is transferred, Joanna’s outed by the Underground Court and she’s punished for fraternization. Getting Róza to safety, and promising to return to find her, Joanna hikes over the Tatra mountains, probably to the Underground’s staging grounds in Zakopane between Poland and Hungary.

Feliks Falk, part of the Cinema of Moral Anxiety movement in the 1970s, is adept at reflecting modern moral choices in his period piece, abetted by
Krzysztof Szpetmanskis sensitive editing. Cinematography by Piotr Sliskowski, production design by Anna Wunderlich, set decoration by Inga Palacz, and costume design by Magdalena Biedrzycka, all contrast Joanna’s and Róza’s warm temporary nest, with the brutalities of the ongoing wartime situation outside.

Urszula Grabowskafor won a Best Actress Eagle at the 13th Polish Film Awards, as well as a Best Actress Award at the Moscow International Film Festival. “Joanna” also won the Russian Film Critics and the Cinema Clubs Diplomas at the Moscow International Film Festival and Best Director and Best Screenplay Prizes at the last year’s Gdynia Polish Film Festival.

“Little Rose”-Inspired by the life of Paweł Jasienica (A.K.A.Leon Lech Beynar) a Polish historian and journalist who was persecuted by the Polish Communist government as a political dissident), Jan Kidawa-Blonski’s powerful “Little Rose” details the government’s total infiltration of the lives of private citizens-artists and members of the intelligentsia during the Soviet bloc years in Poland. Ironically Beynar, a member of the Polish underground, fought the Nazi’s in World War ll, then the Soviets after the war.

Jasienica’s wife, inserted into his life by the security services, had informed on her husband and his friends for years, even filing a report on his funeral. Like “The Lives of Others,” “Little Rose” is a compelling drama about the pervasive Soviet repression in the satellite countries of the Soviet Block and it’s power to deform the lives of its citizens.

Stalin’s U.S.S.R. had systematically purged Jews (the trumped up show trials of “The Doctor’s Plot” was the most infamous example.) Stalin reputedly said, “Every Jew is a potential spy.” In 1967, when Israel defeated Soviet allies Egypt and Syria in the Six Day War, the People’s Republic of Poland went after the “Jewish Fifth Column”, as an excuse to decapitate the liberal opposition movement. Jewish writers, teachers, professors, party officials and other culturally important figures were expelled from the Communist Party, branded as Zionists and stripped of their citizenship, leading to mass emigrations. Over 20,000 Polish Jews lost their jobs.

Colonel Roman Rozek (Robert Wieckiewicz-”Superprodukcja”) of the Security Services is ordered to bring down the respected professor and writer Warczewski (Andrzej Seweryn-“The Reverse”, “Schindler’s List.” “Indochine.”) Hoping to label him as a hidden Zionist, Rozek sics his sexy girlfriend Kamila (Magdalena Boczarska) on the unsuspecting prof. At first naive Kamila hopes to please her swaggering lover, ineptly reporting on the older Warczewski (the covert writer of a famous series of reports for Radio Free Europe.)
Rozek is a crude lover, given to boozy encounters. When grateful Rozek rewards Kamila with expensive perfume, it’s light years away from Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s compromised romance in “Notorious.” Rozek produces an invoice and asks her to sign, “The People’s homeland can be grateful.”  Fighting for his own survival, it’s the most romantic remark he can come up with.

While Rozek trains her in spycraft, Kamila begins to enjoy the romantic attentions of her cultured “boyfriend.”  Warczewski gives her books (Czeslaw Milosz) and encourages her “writing”, unaware that she’s penning reports on his life. Bit by bit, Kamila transforms, as her new husband broadens her political awareness. Warczewski’s friends are appalled by his romance with the “girl from nowhere” but the couple eventually marries.

“Little Rose” (Kamila’s code name), becomes disenchanted with her brutish young lover, but is afraid to stop spying for the Secret Services, continuing to report on her husband and his friends. Rosek, himself persecuted as a “hidden Jew,” becomes unhinged with jealousy as Kamila drifts away, enabling his final tragic act, both personal and political.

Director, co-writer Kidawa-Błonski has crafted a fascinating intimate drama set against a historical canvas. The toxic romantic triangle, with all of its guilty contradictions, is well played by the cast. Więckiewicz is riveting as the driven officer haunted by the dangerous game he’s playing.  Tyro actress Boczarska captures the queasy transformation from slutty party girl to compromised Party spy. Each character in the triangle is fighting for survival in the “Terror” atmosphere of a totalitarian state on the brink of huge transformations.

Kidawa-Błonski weaves archival footage of the 1967-68 with gritty footage from cinematographer Piotr Wojtowicz to recreate a sense of period immediacy.   

“Little Rose” won an Eagle (Poland’s Oscar) for Best Actor (Robert Wieckiewicz) and the Golden Lions Grand Prize for best film at the
35th Gdynia Polish Film Festival 2010, as well as the Golden Lions- AWARD for Producer Włodzimierz Niderhaus. Sound engineers Wiesław Znyk and Joanna Napieralska won for best sound.

Full schedule below.

BLACK THURSDAY (“Czarny czwartek, Janek Wisniewski padl”) 2011, 105 min.
Director          Antoni Krauze
Screenplay            Michał S. PruskiI, Miroslaw Piepka
Cinematography     Jacek Petrycki
Music                   Michal Lorenc
Art Director          Zbigniew Dalecki
Producers          Kazimierz Beer, Miroslaw Piepk
Brunon Drywa     Michal Kowalski
Stefania Drywa     Marta Honzatko
Irena Drywa                  Marta Kalmus-Jankowska
Lenon Drywa         Cezary Rybinski
Wladyslaw Gomolka    Wojciech Pszoniak
Zenon Kliszko         Piotr Fronczewski
Mieczyslaw Moczar    Witold Debicki
Jozef Cyrankiewicz    Piotr Garlicki

AWARDS: 2011 Montreal World Film Festival – FIPRESCI PRIZE for a film in the World Competition)
2011 Lagow International Film Festival – Silver Grape Award
2011 Gdynia Polish Film Festival – Special Jury Award   

Film reconstruction of the dramatic events of the workers’ strike in Gdynia
on Thursday, December 17, 1970. Workers demonstrating against the increase in food prices were brutally pacified by the army and the police (milicja). 18 people were killed and few hundred were injured. A factual  of an ordinary family of Brunon Drywa, a shipyard worker, who was shot by policemen on his way to work.

Q & A with director-Producer Elzbieta Szoka, actors Laila Robins and Dan Bakkedahl    

Director         Kirk Davis
Screenplay         Elzbieta Szoka, Kirk Davis
Cinematography    David M. Dunlap
Music                  Chris Hajian
Producer         Sam Adelman
Executive Producers         Elzbieta Szoka, Joe Bratcher III
Prof. Revis Williams         James LeGro
Prof. Valery Villenueva, Jr.    Callie Thorne
Sophie Sullivan             Jess Weixler   
President Roger Weldman    Matt Servitto
Prof. Deborah Hansen         Laila Robins   
Pres. Harold Kronsky         Robert Hogan
Prof. Richard Valentine         Dan Bakkedahl

Sex and power games go hand in hand in “Welcome to Academia”, a dark satire that uses the university as a metaphor for personal and professional relationships. An idealistic graduate student of modern history, on her way to a well deserved diploma, learns the hard way that merit and intellect are not the most important values in the corrupt, indifferent academic environment. The subject of her doctoral thesis, “Aftermath: Yalta, the 20th Century, and Beyond,” symbolizes the power structures of her own life. Her doctoral committee, known as the Hydra, represents the three World War Two superpowers, the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union. To make matters worse, her charming thesis advisor abandons her amidst the swirl of departmental politics. Who’ll be the new Dean? Will the new President ruin the curriculum and get rid of tenure? And what will happen to our innocent student of modern history, who has to pay a high price in order to get her well-deserved diploma? Will her ‘rite of passage’ make her end up like her oppressed oppressors?  

(“Michal Urbaniak. Nowojorczyk z wyboru”), 2009, 56 min.   
Director          Wieslaw Dabrowski
Screenplay          Wieslaw Dabrowski
Cinematography     Kamil Dabrowski, Anna Walichnowska
Producer          Wieslaw Dabrowsk
Dabrowski’s film portrays a man who loved Music. Michal Urbaniak, one of the most eminent jazz artists in the world, talks about his first steps in the Big Apple. As he rides in a taxi through the streets of New York, he visits places where his artistic career took off, clubs he played in, and others he keeps close to his heart. He also talks with world-wide known Musicians and artists he worked with: Don Blackman, Tom Brown, Felton Crews, George Duke, Wojciech Karolak, Tomasz Stanko, Buster Williams, Lenny White.   

2011, 67 min.
Director         Elzbieta Szoka
Screenplay         Elzbieta Szoka
Cinematography    Nadia Hallgren
Producer         Sam Adelman

In the documentary “Beautiful People”, ten members of the longest running traditional Irish Music group in New York City talk about not only their interest in this type of Music but offer a peek inside their lives to try and find what draws them towards this activity. An Asian American that plays the fiddle, a charismatic twenty one-year-old singer/guitarist, an 84-year-old Italian-American accordionist, and a 77-year-old woman that recently graduated from the police academy, exemplify the diversity of the group. Somewhere around 35 to 40 Musicians get together every Tuesday night at a bar called Dempsey’s Pub, located on Second Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village.” Beautiful People” captures the spirit, passion and commitment of this group, and looks to explore the binding element that brings them all together for this unusual common interest.

(“Lesne Doly”), 2011, 80 min.    
Director         Slawomir Kulikowski
Screenplay         Slawomir Kazimierczak
Cinematography    Mariusz Konopka
Music                  Partners In Rhyme
Art Director         Hanna Orlowska
Producers         Slawomir Kulikowski, Pawel Kuligowski
Weronika         Teresa Dzielska
Andrzej         Ireneusz Czop
Piotr                  Mariusz Bonaszewski
Monika         Hanna Konarowska
Mysterious Man    Marek Frackowiak

A young married couple suddenly wins a jackpot. They inherit a manor house in the village of Lesne Doly. They are charmed by life in a small town, and plan to open up a motel in the inherited manor. The idea receives a chilly response from the local residents. The couple disregards all the warnings that they hear. However it doesn’t long for the secret of Lesne Doly to come out.

Director         C. Jay Cox
Screenplay         C. Jay Cox
Cinematography:    C. Jay Cox
Producers         C. Jay Cox, Adi Spektor, Helen Mcelwain, Michael Medico
Kazik               Adi Spektor,
Louis               Chip Phillips
Bolek               Marek Probosz
Yuri               Eugene Alper
Ms. Lindt          Helen Mcelwain
Rudevsky          Matthew Arkin
Ms. Adderly          Aleksandra Kaniak    .
Ms. Roblisch      Morgan Steinhart

In this accomplished black comedy, a hardened hit man for a mobster must deal with his ‘day job’ before making a desperate attempt to get to the one man who has eluded him.

STIGMA   Q & A with director Janusz Madej
(“Pietno”), 2011, 29 min.
Director           Janusz Madej
Screenplay           Janusz Madej
Cinematography      Benji Bakshi   
Music                    Kevin Macleod
Production Design   Alessandro Marvelli
Art Director            Andrew Jesse Gutierrez     
Producers           Janusz Madej, Ilya Farfell, Jennifer Bhagwandin
Gabriel           Janusz Madej
Father Nolan      Frank Mavros
Olympia           Michelle Renee Allaire
Widow           Rebecca Brooks   
Blind Girl           Sylvia Panacione

Gabriel is a psychic. He pretends to speak with spirits. Waking from a violent nightmare of a Christ-like figure being crucified, he discovers a wound on his stomach. In the hospital he meets father Nolan, a priest who offers him help. That night he is visited by Olympia, a woman who just heard that she is infertile. He receives a violent vision but he decides not to share this revelation with Olympia. He decides to meet with father Nolan. 33 days later Gabriel’s wounds seem to heal. He is visited by Olympia who is now pregnant. Gabriel realizes his visions are coming true and his life is about to change dramatically. 
(“Jutro mnie tu nie bedzie,”) 2010, 28 min.
Director               Julia Kolberger
Screenplay               Julia Kolberger
Cinematography          Jakub Giża
Music                        Radosław Łukasiewicz
Art Director               Julia Junosz-Szaniewska
Producer               Julia Groszek,
Marta                        Julia Kijowska
Ewa, Marta’s Mother    Dorota Kolak
Grandmother          Lidia Korsakówna
Marta’s Father          Michal Tarkowski
Iwona                        Małgorzata Buczkowska-Szlenkier
Marta’s Lover          Piotr Bajor
Ewa’s Friend    .     Maria Mamona 

AWARDS: 2011 New York Polish Film Festival – Best Short Film AWARD
2011 International Film and Music Festival Kustendorf – Silver Egg AWARD
2010 Camerimage – Gold Tadpole for Jakub Giza
2010 Gdynia Polish Film Festival – Special AWARD in Young Polish Cinema Competition

Thirty-year-old Marta is tired of living with her strict mother and tries to free herself from their toxic relationship.

REHAB      Q & A with director Krzysztof Jankowsk.   
(“Odwyk”), 2011, 23 min.
Director         Krzysztof Jankowsk
Screenplay         Krzysztof Jankowsk, Wojciech Solarz, Marcin Cygal
Cinematography    Lukasz Zal,
Music                  Andrzej Izdebski
Producer         Krzysztof Jankowsk
Konstanty Ildefons Galczynski         Wojciech Solarz
Doctor Wrobel      Andrzej Glazer
Minister Baranski      Robert Jarociński
Nurse Sliwinski      Mateusz Rusi
Director           Jacek Różański
Editor Solecki      Marcin Makowski

It’s the beginning of the 1950’s and famous poet Konstanty Ildefons Galczynski faces difficult times.. A seemingly trivial hospital stay in the drug rehab ward of a psychiatric hospital will turn upside down when Doctor Wrobel orders changes in his treatment. Based on true incidents in the life of Galczynski.   

(“Dolina Issy”) 1982, 102 min.
Director         Tadeusz Konwicki
Screenplay         Tadeusz Konwicki, Czesław Miłosz
Cinematography    Jerzy Łukaszewicz
Music                      Zygmunt Konieczny
Art Director         Andrzej Boreski
Producer         Ryszard Chutkowski
Magdalena         Anna Dymna
Barbara         Maria Pakulis
Grandmother Misia      Danuta Szaflarska
Helena               Ewa Wiśniewska
Grandfather Surkont    Edward Dziewoński
Baltazar               Krzysztof Gosztyła

Featuring a script co-written by the great Polish poet and novelist Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004), the film evokes a childhood in rural Lithuania between the wars. A country boy, Tomaszek, lives on a rich estate, situated on the Polish border. He realizes that the Issa Valley he lives in is to be torn apart by internal political conflicts and unrests among the mixed population of Poles, Lithuanians, Jews and Russians. He, however, is captivated by a paradise surrounding him, the forest, and his fantasies.

(“Kawalek lata”), 2010, 24 min.
Director         Marta Minorowicz
Screenplay         Marta Minorowicz
Cinematography    Pawel Chorzepa
Producer         Sławomir Pańszczyk

AWARDS: 2011 Vidreres International Short Documentary Film Festival – Nanook Second Prize; 2011 Clermont-Ferrand Filmfest  – Grand Prix in Best International Short Film; 2010 DOK Festival, Leipzig – Golden Dove in Best International Short Documentary

The end of summer, the end of holidays. A boy visits his grandfather who lives and works in the mountainous forests. Surrounded by wild nature they try to rebuild their bonds.

(“Poza zasiegiem”), 2010, 30 min.
Director         Jakub Stożek
Screenplay         Jakub Stożek
Cinematography    Michal Sosna
Producer         Anna Zajaczkowska

AWARDS:.2011  Prizren DOKUFEST, Kosovo – Best International Short Dox
2011 International Documentary Film Festival, Brazil – Grand Prize in the International Short Film Competition
2011 International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Kiev – Special Prize from the Ukrainian Filmmakers’ Association
2011 Sundance Film Festival – Honorable Mentions in Short Filmmaking
2010 The International Documentary Film Festival of Mexico City – Award for Best Short Film in the International Competition
2010 Krakow Film Festival – The Golden Dragon for Jakub Stozek in the International Short Film Competition

Karolina and Klaudia are trying to restore family relationships that were destroyed by the adults a long time ago. However, putting this plan into action turns out to be much more difficult than they have imagined.   

2010, 8 min. and 15 sec.   
Directors         Jan Paweł Trzaska, Joaquin del Paso
Screenplay         Jan Paweł Trzaska
Cinematography    Jan Paweł Trzaska
Music                  Daniel Zorzano
Producer         Kamila Goworek
CAST Szymon Kluz, Rigoberto Rodríguez Gaytan, Saul Duran, Alfonso Rodrigez Gaytan, Julia Gaytan Duran, Szymon Kluz

In the small village of Mixteco, deep in Mexico’s Sierra Madre, two young brothers are sent to fetch water for their family. Their journey is filled with misfortunes. The film’s impressionistic aesthetic reveals the culture of the Mexican natives in their indigenous environment.

(“Smolarze”), 2010, 15 min.   
Director             Piotr Zlotorowicz
Screenplay             Piotr Zlotorowicz
Cinematography    Malte Rosenfeld
Producer         Joanna Malicka

Every summer, Marek and Janina work as charcoal burners in the Bieszczady Mountains. Far from civilization, in the heart of the mountains, they live according to the rhythm set by the nature. The documentary joins the man and the woman from dawn till dusk, observing the slow passage of time.

(“Zgrzyt”), 2011, 14 min.
Director         Michal Mroz
Screenplay         Michal Mroz
Music                  Sebastian Szymanski
Animation         Michal Mroz
Producers         Piotr Furmankiewicz,  Mateusz Michalak

About a robot who can’t find his place in society. Sonorism of Music and mechanical world.

2010, 10 min.
Director          Damian Nenow
Screenplay          Damian Nenow
Music                   Jaroslaw Wojcik   
Producer          Marcin Kobylecki
3D Graphics     Jaroslaw Handrysik, Jakub Jablonski, Rafał Kidziński, Bartłomiej Kik’, Bartosz Opatoweicki, Kamil Pohl, Krzysztof Rusinek, lukasz skurczynski, Marcin Stepien, Piotr Suchodolski, Dominik Wawrzyniak

AWARDS: 2011 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, San Diego – Best Animated Film Award
2011 Anima Mundi International Film Festival, Brasil – Professional Award for Best Film
2011 Animation Short Film Festival Mundos Digitales, La Coruna, Spaine  – Best Animation Short Film Award and Special Prize of the Jury
2011 SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival, Vancouver – Jury Award
2011 Annecy International Animation Film Festival  – Special Distinction in Short Film Category

“Paths Of Hate” is a short tale about the demons that slumber deep in the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage.

2010, 90 min.   
Director         Marek Lechki
Screenplay         Marek Lechki
Cinematography    Przemyslaw Kaminski
Music                  Bartek Straburzyński
Art Director         Barbara Komosińska
Producer         Marek Lechki
Michal                  Tomasz Kot.
Michal’s Father    Ryszard Kotys
Zbyszek         Tomasz Radawiec
Policeman         Janusz Michałowski
Magda, Michal’s Wife         Karina Kunkiewicz
Nawrocki         Jerzy Rogalski

AWARDS: 2011 International Film Festival Tofifest, Torun – Golden Angel
2011 International Film Festival of Uruguay – FIPRESCI Award
2011 Lecce European Film Festival, Italy – Special Jury Priz
2010 Thessaloniki International Film Festival – Best Screenplay Award
2010 Chicago International Film Festival – Gold Plaque in New Directors Competition
2010 Gdynia Polish Film Festival – Awards for Best Directorial Debut and Critics Award

Michal must travel to his hometown, Szczecin, to pick up his boss’ car. The trip reminds him of all the reasons why, many years ago, after his mother’s death, Michal left Szczecin and escaped from his father. A car accident, in which he kills a homeless man, forces Michal to extend his stay in Szczecin. Out of guilt he starts searching for the homeless man’s family. This simple task quickly transforms into an emotional journey into his past. The harder he tries to move on and leave, the deeper he sinks into a world of unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, and unresolved conflicts.

(“Dom zly”), 2009, 106 min.
Director         Wojciech Smarzowski
Screenplay         Lukasz Kosmick & Wojciech Smarzowsk
Cinematography    Krzysztof Ptak
Music                  Mikołaj Trzaska
Art Director         Marek Zawierucha
Producers         Dariusz Pietrykowski, Andrzej Polec, Anna Iwaszkiewicz
Srodon         Arkadiusz Jakubik
Dziabas         Marian Dziędziel
Mrs. Dziabas    Kinga Preis
Mroz                  Bartłomiej Topa
Lisowska         Katarzyna Cynke
Lisowski         Robert Wabich
Tomala         Robert Więckiewicz

AWARDS: 2009 Gdynia PFF, Best Director Award for Wojciech Smarzowski, Best Editing Award for Pawel Laskowski, Best Screenplay Award for Lukasz Kosmicki & Wojtek Smarzowski
2009 Warsaw IFF, Audience Award
2010 Camerimage – Silver Frog

Two parallel plots. One night in October 1978, zoo technician Edward Srodon makes an accidental stop at the Dziabas family farmhouse in the remote Bieszczady Mountains. He stays for the night. Initial distrust between hosts and guest are quickly dispelled under the charm of moonlight leading to a warm camaraderie.

On a winter’s day in February 1982, during Martial Law in Poland, an investigating team of People’s Militia (police) visits a crime scene. Lieutenant Mroz tries to solve a four-year-old multiple murder case.

1943, 124 min.
Director                  Mervyn Leroy
Screenplay                     Paul Osborn, Paul H. Rameau  (based on book  “Madame Curie” by Eve Curie)
Cinematography         Joseph Ruttenberg   
Music                           Herbert Stothart   
Art Director                  Cedric Gibbons   
Producer                  Sidney Franklin     
Marie Curie-Sklodowska      Greer Garson
Pierre Curie                    Walter Pidgeon
Eugene Curie           Henry Travers
Professor Jean Perot      Albert Bassermann
David Le Gros           Robert Walker
Lord Kelvin                    C. Aubrey Smith

“Madam Curie” received seven nominations at the 1944 Academy Awards®:
Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Music and Best Sound Recording.

Maria (Marie Fr.) Sklodowska-Curie (born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867) was one of the first woman scientists to win worldwide fame, and indeed, one of the great scientists of this century. She had degrees in mathematics and physics and won two Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and for Chemistry in 1911. She discovered polonium (so called by Maria in honor of Poland) in the summer of 1898, and radium a few months later.

The film begins in the 1890s while Marie Sklodowska is enrolled at the Sorbonne. She’s a poor Polish exchange student with a passion for physics and chemistry. When her professor finds out about her precarious financial situation, he recommends her for a position with the “nervous and impatient” Dr. Pierre Curie and his assistant David. Curie believes that “women and science are incompatible.” Marie, who will graduate at the top of her class, quickly proves him wrong. Just as quickly, Pierre falls in love with her and introduces her to his parents. An engagement leads to a wedding, which leads to a partnership, which leads to the discovery of radium. Tragedy will eventually divide the couple, but Marie refuses to let their work die.

(“Kret”), 2010, 108 min.
Director         Rafael Lewandowski          
Screenplay         IIwo Kardel, Rafael Lewandowski        
Cinematography    Piotr Rosolowski
Editor                   Agnieszka Glinska        
Music                   Jérôme Rebotier     .
Production Designer      Jerzy Talik
Producers          Jacek Kucharski, Marcin Wierzchoslawski
Paweł                  Borys Szyc
Zygmunt         Marian Dziedziel
Ewa          &nbs;


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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