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Polish Film Showcase

Ile wazy kon trojanski?

Canisius College present four films from Poland this weekend

Some of the best of recent Polish cinema will be on display at various locations around the Buffalo area this weekend as part of the annual Polish Film Showcase, presented by the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College.

The series opens tonight (Thursday) with Mala Moskwa (Little Moscow), a tragic romance that succeeds as history as well as lavish movie entertainment. Set in the late 1960s in a Polish town on the Russian border that is so dominated by the Russian army that it is nicknamed “Little Moscow,” the unsettled tensions between those countries are played out in an adulterous affair between a Polish officer and the wife of a Russian officer (played by the striking Svetlana Khodchenkova, named Best Actress for her dual performance). Director Waldemar Krzystek will present the film at the at the Riviera Theater in North Tonawanda.

Some of you may recall seeing the drama Przesluchanie (Interrogation) some years ago at Hallwalls. Made in 1982 but banned until 1989, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it featured an unforgettable performance by Krystyna Janda as a woman brutally interrogated for charges she doesn’t understand. Writer-director Ryszard Bugajski had to flee Poland to Canada where he mostly worked in television for the ensuing two decades.

Now back in Poland, Bugajski has a new film, the equally gripping General Nil. It tells the true story of Emil Fieldorf, a leader of the World War II resistance. He returned to a hero’s welcome, only to run afoul of the occupying Soviet government, who saw him as a threat to their power. Like Andrej Wajda’s Katyn, General Nil is a powerful film made with the purpose of restoring a chapter in Polish history that had been kept hidden for many years. It will be shown on Friday at 6pm at Canisius College’s Montante Cultural Center (2001 Main Street).

The hold of Poland’s trouble past on the present is a them of the two other features in the series. The striking drama Rysa (Scratch) opens with an anniversary party for two academics, married for 40 years. Though their life and relationship seem happily ideal, that bond begins to sunder when the wife, Joanna, is anonymously alerted to a rumor about her husband. He denies it and she refuse to believe it, but a seed of doubt has been planted in her mind. Directed by Michal Rosa, the film is both a claustrophobic examination of the hidden perils of any close relationship as well as an examination of the unhealed wounds left in a society in which for many years people were encouraged to spy on their neighbors, friends and even families. Preceded by the documentary Children in Exile, about children placed in the Soviet Gulag, the film screens at 3pm on Saturday at the Palace Theater (31 Buffalo Street, Hamburg).

The series concludes on a lighter note with Ile wazy kon trojanski? (How Much Does the Trojan Horse Weigh?), a romantic fantasy from veteran director Juliusz Machulski. Reminiscent of Peggy Sue Got Married (but as different as it is similar), it begins on the 40th birthday of Zosia (Ilona Ostrowska). She is at a perfect time in her life, with a good job, a second husband she adores and a daughter who is equally happy with her stepfather. Regretting only that she didn’t arrive at this stage earlier in life, she is magically transported back to 1987, where she tries to engineer a breakup with her first husband and a meeting with the man she will marry in 1995. But in 1987 Poland was still under Communist rule, which is only one of the things that stands in the way of her path to remaking her life. It will be shown Sunday at 2pm at the Montante Cultural Center.

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