University of Rochester

EVENT: Festival Screens a Variety of Important Polish Films

October 24, 2007

At the 12th annual Polish Film Festival, sponsored by a grant from Rochester's Louis Skalny Foundation, Rochester audiences will get a chance to see a range of genres that sample Polish films at their best, including a joint venture by 13 renowned Polish directors that memorializes the 1980 Polish strike for workers rights.

The films, not previously distributed in the United States, will be screened at the Little Theatre at 240 East Avenue from Nov. 10 to 14. Organized by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester, the festival features five films from Poland with English subtitles.

Solidarity, Solidarity (Solidarnosc, Solidarnosc, 2005), the joint project about the 1980 Polish strike for workers rights, kicks off the film festival on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m. and there is a second screening at 7:20 p.m. This feature, the brainchild of famed director Andrzej Wajda, is comprised of 13 10-minute films, each shot by a different director. The events of August 1980, when Polish workers went on strike across the country and waged a hard-fought campaign for workers' rights, are captured in each piece. The short films vary in genre from comedy to documentary.

On Sunday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. Director Jan Jakub Kolski's bitter-sweet comedy, Jasminum (2006), tells the story of a young woman who moves to a convent with her small daughter to restore paintings. She works during the day but at night she experiments with alchemy and creates fragrances inspired by the mysterious monks who live at the convent and smell of the most incredible scents. The inquiring mind of her charming five-year-old daughter wreaks havoc in the ordered life of the monastery.

In Tomorrow's Weather (Pogoda na jutro, 2003), Poland's most beloved actor, Jerzy Stuhr, directs and stars in a serious-minded comedy satire about a member of the solidarity movement who disappears to live as a monk in order to hide from repressions by the communist authorities. Seventeen years later, accidentally found by his family and thrown out of the monastery, he's adrift in a strange new world. During his long absence, his wife has settled down with a businessman, his son is developing a political career, his older daughter strips at a TV reality show, and his youngest daughter's attention is focused exclusively on the internet. The film will be shown Monday, Nov. 12 at 7:20 p.m.

Director Kazimierz Kutz takes a humorous look Poland during the Stalinist era in Colonel Kwiatkowski (Pulkownik Kwiatkowski, 1995). To be screened Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7:20 p.m., Colonel Kwiatkowski tells the story of the title character, who travels around the country masquerading as an officer of the Polish Secret Police. Kutz produces wonderful human portraits in the film, including grotesque portrayals of Communist Party apparatchiks and functionaries of the State Security Bureau. The main character's satiric use of the Communist Party lingo, as he turns its intended meanings inside out to manipulate the unwitting Party faithful, is another highlight of this film.

I am Looking at you, Mary (Patrze na ciebie, Marysiu, 1999), draws attention to important factors shaping the lives of young people after the collapse of communism in Poland: their dependence on parents and fear of the future. Director Lukasz Barczyk's main characters, Marysia, a Geology student; and her boyfriend, Michal, who works as a junior psychiatrist in a hospital; live together in rented accommodations and are supported by their parents. This dependency affects Michal's self-confidence and perception of the future. He avoids making commitments, especially in terms of a family. He becomes unhappy when he learns that Marysia is pregnant. The film will be shown Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:20 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased from the Little Theatre box office before each show. The price is $8 for evenings, $6 for matinees, and students and seniors pay $5 for either show.

For more information, visit or contact the Skalny Center at (585) 275-9898.