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Polish Film Festival explores universal themes of struggle, hope

October 29, 2015

This year’s Polish Film Festival, put on by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester, features stories of elusive happiness, personal struggles, history, and murder.

“We have carefully put together a film festival that appeals to the entire community, not just those of Polish heritage,” said festival organizer Bozena Sobolewska, program coordinator at the Skalny Center. “After all, the themes of struggle and hope reflected in the films are common to all people.”

The seven-day festival showcases classic Polish cinema, as well as more current movies produced by the next generation of the country’s filmmakers. And, as Sobolewska points out, most of the movies have received awards at major film festivals.

The 18th annual festival begins at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum on Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm with the classic Deluge Redivivus, a tale of a soldier’s transformation from an irresponsible young man into a national hero following the 17th century Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The official grand opening of the festival takes place at the Dryden Theatre on  Wednesday, November 4 at 7 pm at with the showing of Illumination, a film that chronicles the life of an aspiring young scientist who finds his analytical approach to life being tested by love, loss, and his own mortality.

The seven remaining films in the festival will be shown at the Little Theatre:

Warsaw 44 (November 5, 7 pm) is set during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising when the Nazis were forced out of the Polish capital, only to retake the city days later. It’s a story of heroism, sacrifice, and betrayal. The Film will be followed by a question and answer session with director and screenwriter Jan Komasa.

These Daughters of Mine (November 6, 8:30 pm), a tale of family ties during a time of imminent danger, will make its American premiere at the film festival. After the showing, filmgoers will have the opportunity to question Kinga Debska, the director and screenwriter, and Zbigniew Domagalski, the producer.

Life Must Go On (November 7, 3 pm) is about a TV entertainer who decides to make the most of his life after learning he has an incurable disease.

Gods (November 7, 7 pm) is a true–and sometimes humorous–story of a cardiac surgeon facing public superstitions in performing the country’s first successful heart transplant.

Body (November 8, 6:30 pm) is a humorous film about a cynical prosecutor and his grown-up, anorexic daughter, still grieving for her dead mother, who has the ability to communicate with the dead.

Call Me Marianna (November 8, 8:30 pm) is a documentary that addresses loneliness and hope in telling the story of Marianna, who has broken all ties with her ex-wife and children, and sued her parents in order to fully live as a woman. A question and answer session with director and screenwriter Karolina Bielawska follows the film.

A Grain of Truth (November 9, 7 pm) is a detective thriller about the secrets uncovered amidst the hysteria of public opinion long after the murder of a well-liked social activist.

The film festival attracts renowned Polish actors, directors, screenwriters, and critics, and this year is no exception. Attending this year will be: Michal Oleszczyk, artistic director of the Gdynia Film Festival; director and screenwriter Jan Komasa; journalist and documentary filmmaker Kinga Debska; producer Zbigniew Domagalski; and director Karolina Bielawska.

The festival is sponsored and supported by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, the Polish Film Institute, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, the Polish Filmmakers Association, and the Polish Heritage Society of Rochester. Films are shown with English subtitles and are screened at the Little Theatre. Tickets for Deluge Redivivus can be purchased at the Dryden Theatre: $8 for general admission, $6 for members, and $4 for students. For the remainder of the films, tickets can be purchased at the Little Theatre box office: $9 for regular admission and $7 for students and seniors. For details, contact the Skalny Center at 585.275.9898.

The full schedule can be found at the web site for the Polish Film Festival Fall 2015.

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Category: The Arts

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