University of Rochester

EVENT: 2004 Polish Film Festival Kicks Off at the Little Theatre

October 26, 2004

Six Polish films, which have earned international praise and recognition, will be featured Nov. 14 to 18 at the Little Theatre for this yearís festival organized by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester. Sponsored by a grant from Rochesterís Louis Skalny Foundation, the annual Polish Film Festival gives local audiences the chance to see films that are acclaimed abroad, but have not been distributed in the United States.

Now in its ninth year, the festivalís films are in Polish with English subtitles, and each will be shown for one day only at the Little Theatre, 240 East Ave. Tickets can be purchased before each show.

The festival will begin Sunday, Nov. 14, with In Desert and Wilderness (W Pustyni i w Puszczy, 2001) at 3:30 and 7 p.m. This film, directed and written by Gavin Hood, takes place at the end of the 19th century when two children are kidnapped in the heart of the African continent. They escape along with two other African children, and embark on a journey revealing the breathtakingly beautiful African landscape.

Ubu the King (Krol Ubu, 2003) tells the story of human greed, cowardice, and stupidity in the latest version of a 19th-century play. The king, egged on by his Lady Macbeth-like wife, pretends to fight for freedom and democracy in order to seize power from the reigning monarch in the fictitious land of Foland. The cast is a roll call of famous Polish actors: Jerzy Trela, Wojciech Siemion, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Jan Kociniak, and Katarzyna Figura. The film, directed by Piotr Szulkin, will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15.

A film by the internationally acclaimed director-writer-cinematographer Lech Majewski develops the story of a loner and a young Italian woman who seek to find their place in the world. The Garden of Earthly Delights (Ogrod Ziemskich Rozkoszy, 2003) shows their different natures and how they want to find paradise on Earth. It will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.16.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, two films will be paired. The six-minute animated movie titled Fallen Art (Sztuka Spadania, 2004) is set on a military base in the Pacific. Exemplary officers who have lost their grasp on reality after experiences in the military are exiled there. Director Tomek Baginski earned an Oscar nomination for another film, The Cathedral, which was shown at last yearís festival.

The second film, Symmetry (Symetria, 2003), follows 26-year-old Lukasz, who is wrongly accused of mugging an elderly woman and is held in police custody. The inspiration for the film came from director Konrad Niewolskiís personal experiences. It displays a compelling argument against the current state of the Polish judicial and penal systems.

The festival will conclude with the screening of The Bench (Laweczka, 2004) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18. Director Maciej Zak brings together two young people with different outlooks on love and relationships. What one desires, the other fears. A conflict is played out between the womanís need for closeness and the manís lack of ability to communicate. It stars Artur Zmijewski and Jolanta Fraszynska.

Tickets at the Little Theatre box office are $7 for evening shows and $5 for the matinee. Little Theatre Film Society members receive a membership discount. For more information, contact the Skalny Center at (585) 275-9898. A complete listing of the films and show times is available on the Skalny Center Web site at

The Skalny Center supports research and teaching about the historical legacy and political and economics changes within Central Europe. Its public lecture series, film festival, and other activities offer the Rochester community opportunities to learn about Poland and its people.