Polish Film Showcase
by M. Faust
Eighth annual festival of Polish cinema at Canisius
Some of the best of recent Polish cinema can be seen this weekend as part of the eighth annual Polish Film Showcase, presented by the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College. The series opens tonight (Thursday, November 14) at 7:30pm with the controversial Aftermath (Poklosie), set in a rural town where a farmer (Maciej Stuhr, named Best Actor at the Polish Film Awards) risks his life when he exposes evidence of crimes regarding the area’s Jews during World War II, evidence that his neighbors will do anything to keep hidden.
If it seems that Polish cinema is obsessed with the war, it may be because there are so many shameful stories that need to be brought to light. That’s certainly the case with Rose, set in Masuria, an area that is presently part of northeastern Poland. Variously under the control of Prussia, Poland, and Germany over the centuries, the local people were subject to attempts to “cleanse” the population based on who was controlling the region. Wojciech Smarzowski’s film is set at the end of the war, as 75 years of German domination end with a brutal Russian occupation. The story centers on a Polish soldier who tries to put his past behind him by working on the farm of a widow who is ill-treated by both the Russians and her neighbors, who accuse her of collaboration. Winner at the Polish Film Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actress, and Screenplay, Rose is at times difficult to watch (especially in the final scenes), but it exposes a story that many would like to forget. It will be shown Sunday, November 17 at 3pm.
Filmmaker Ryszard Bugajski, a former assistant to Andrzej Wajda who spent years in exile in Toronto after the release of his damning film Interrogation, will be present on Saturday, November 16 to show his most recent film Closed Circuit, a box-office hit in Poland. Based on a true story, this thriller follows three brash young entrepreneurs who think they’re on top of the world when they open an electronics factory in Gdansk. They don’t realize that their high profile has attracted the attention of three corrupt public officials, holdovers from the Communist days, who plan to use their powers to steal the business from them. It’s a bit slow getting started, but stick with it and you’ll be glued to your seat. Bugajski, whose General Nil was shown at the showcase in 2009, will be joined by the film’s co-star Maria Mamona for a Q&A after the 7:30pm screening.
The series also includes the reconstructed version of the 1928 silent Pan Tadeusz, based on the epic poem by Adam Mickiewicz and featuring live accompaniment by keyboardist Marcin Pukaluk, Friday, November 15 at 7:30pm.
All films include English subtitles and will be shown at the Montante Cultural Center, 2001 Main Street. Tickets are $10 general admission, seniors/students $5.
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