Polish Film Festival Comes of Age



Welcome to the 2011 Rochester Polish Film Festival – six days of critically acclaimed Polish films in the Little Theatre’s largest venue (Theater 1), 240 East Ave. Sponsored by the University of Rochester’s Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies < http://www.rochester.edu/college/psc/CPCES> , the festival features eight full-length feature films, two director debuts, and four animated shorts and offers everything from comedy and romance to an action thriller.
Headlining the festivities are Polish film director Feliks Falk, a leader of the Polish “cinema of moral anxiety” with more than 20 films to his credit, and actor Andrzej Chyra, one of Poland’s most popular and versatile stars. Both will take questions from audiences following the screening of their work.


Hailed by the New York Times as “lush and hypnotic,” The Mill and the Cross brings to life Pieter Bruegel’s masterful 16th century painting, “The Way to the Cross.” Using several layers of technology, the movie captures the daily lives and brutal reality of Flanders under Spanish occupation. It will be screened Sunday, Nov 13 at 7 p.m.

An undisputed gem in this year’s line up is The Mill and the Cross <
http://www.themillandthecross.com/> . Hailed by the New York Times as “lush and hypnotic” and by Variety as “an extraordinary imaginative leap,” the ambitious undertaking brings to life Pieter Bruegel’s masterful 16th century painting, “The Way to the Cross.” Using several layers of technology, including blue screen, backdrops and digital footage, the movie captures in sumptuous detail the daily lives and brutal reality of Flanders under Spanish occupation.
For opening night only, Nov. 10, the festival moves to the Dryden Theatre,
900 East Ave., screening one of Feliks Falk’s most moving works, Joanna <
http://www.filmneweurope.com/production/news/gdynia-polish-film-festival-competition-spotlight-joanna> . Set in World War II Kraków during the German occupation, the movie tells the story of the young Polish pianist Joanna who hides a Jewish girl abandoned when German soldiers took her mother away. In her effort to keep the girl’s existence secret, Joanna is forced to become the lover of a German officer and then is marked as a traitor by her family and the Polish resistance.            
Now in its 14th years, the festival has enjoyed a steady increase in popularity and quality over the years. Initially, the cultural event offered only a handful of films in a lecture hall on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. Screenings were plagued with projection breakdowns, and the movies themselves, while culturally important, were underfunded and technologically unsophisticated by American standards, recalls festival organizer Bozenna Sobolewska.
From those modest beginnings, the event has grown into a full-fledged cinematic celebration. Much of the success, says Sobolewska, can be credited to a maturing Polish film industry. For more than a decade, the Polish government has provided national support for the fledgling sector, financing new films, funding training institutes, and even underwriting some of the costs of the Rochester festival for the past four years through the Polish Film Institute <
http://www.pisf.pl/en>  and the Polish Filmmakers Association < http://www.sfp.org.pl/en> . Additional festival support is provided by the Little Theatre Film Society < https://www.thelittle.org/membership.php>  and the Polish Heritage Society < http://www.polishheritagerochester.org/>  of Rochester.
To secure the best selections, the
Rochester festival has also forged partnerships with Polish film festivals in Houston, Toronto, Austin, Seattle, and Los Angeles to help defray the not inconsiderable costs of shipping these colloid masterpieces across the Atlantic. Even in the age of Blu-Ray discs, most of the festival selections are 35 mm films, which are heavy and only available in limited supply.
All films are shown in Polish with English subtitles, and all are screened at the Little Theatre,
240 East Ave., except for opening night at the Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave. The festivities wrap up with a reception on Nov. 15 in the Little Café, following the showing of Entanglement. Tickets are $8; students and seniors pay $6. Little Theatre Film Society members receive their membership discount. For details, visit
http://www.rochester.edu/college/psc/CPCES/events_pff.html or contact the Skalny Center at (585) 275-9898.
A schedule of the films follows:

Thursday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.
Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave.
Joanna, 2010, 105 min.
Written and directed by: Feliks Falk
Main cast: Urszula Grabowska, Sara Knothe, Stanisława Celińska, Kinga Preis
Produced by: Akson Studio
Producer: Michał Kwieciński
Set in World War II Kraków during the German occupation, Joanna chronicles the dilemma of the Polish woman Joanna, who gives shelter to a young Jewish girl whose mother was taken away during a round-up. Joanna struggles to keep the girl’s existence secret, even to her relatives. To save the child, she has an “affair” with a German officer, becoming a traitor in the eyes of her family and the Polish underground resistance movement.
All other films will be shown at the Little Theatre, Theater 1, 240 East Ave.

A schedule of the films at:


All That I Love tells the story of a group of young people growing up in Poland in the early 1980s when martial law was imposed by the government and social rebellion against the Communist regime was beginning to rise. The film, Poland’s 2010 Oscar candidate in the “best foreign language film” category, will be shown Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.

About the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies
Established through a grant from the Louis Skalny Foundation, the Center is an academic meeting place for teaching and research on Central Europe, with a special focus on Poland. At the University, the Center supports post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate research, brings in visiting faculty, and offers Polish language courses. For the wider community, the Center sponsors a lecture and artist series, and organizes the annual Polish Film Festival.
About the
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester (www.rochester.edu) is one of the nation’s leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Schools of Medicine and Nursing, and the Memorial Art Gallery.