The 15th annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, continues Friday, November 7, through Sunday, November 16. Unless otherwise noted, films are screened from 35-millimeter prints and tickets are $9 at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Films are projected from video and tickets are $7 at the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. A $40 pass admits you to any five screenings; for more information call 773-486-9612. The schedule through November 13 follows; a complete schedule through November 16 is available online at All films are in Polish with subtitles unless otherwise noted. Films marked with an * are highly recommended.



Janusz Zaorski, whose feature A Happy New York played in the 1997 festival, directed this 2002 feature about two kids who get into trouble as computer hackers. 91 min. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

Skin Trade

When a journalist dies after a riding accident, his best friend suspects foul play. Rafael M. Lipka directed. 89 min. (Copernicus Center, 9:00)


When the Sun Was God

Jerzy Hoffman’s historical epic With Fire and Sword opened the 1999 festival and has been revived in subsequent years (see listing for Wednesday, November 12); his new feature is a splotchy, indifferently made, but perversely entertaining adaptation of Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski’s novel Stara Basn. Set during the ninth century, it involves a delusional prince (Bogdan Stupka) whose nefarious scheming unleashes a peasant rebellion. Michal Zebrowski is the proud warrior aesthete who leads the uprising while covertly pursuing beautiful Marina Aleksandrowa. Hoffman has no shame or subtlety, but he packs the frame with violent action and sensuality (though the relentless misogyny is hard to take). 107 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Actor Andrzej Krukowski will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 10:00 am)


A two-bit thief carrying a suitcase full of loot from a church boards a train, tries to stow his luggage, and accidentally brains another passenger, killing him. Andrzej Saramonowicz wrote this comedy and directed with Tomasz Konecki. 99 min. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

Pekin, Zlota 83

Ewa Borzecka, a veteran of the BBC and Polish television, directed this documentary about the “flamboyant tenants” being evicted from an old building in downtown Warsaw. 110 min. To be shown by video projection; tickets are $7. Borzecka will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 9:00)


With Beak and Claw

A children’s film for television (2002) about birdlife in northeast Poland, directed by Krystian Matysek. 53 min. (Copernicus Center, 1:00)

When the Sun Was God

See listing for Saturday, November 8. Actor Andrzej Krukowski will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 3:00)

* Pornography

Adapted from a novel by Witold Gombrowicz, this brilliant, disquieting feature by Jan Jakub Kolski (A Story of the Movies From the Village of Popielawy) is set in the Polish countryside during the Nazi occupation. A theater director and a writer orchestrate a love affair between a handsome partisan and a landowner’s beautiful young daughter. Visually breathtaking, the film reaches past its teasing and erotic moments toward something far more elusive and complex, telling a story of war and compromise, of vanity, cowardice, and shame. The script is by Kolski, Swiss filmmaker Luc Bondy, and screenwriter Gerard Brach, who has worked with Roman Polanski and Michelangelo Antonioni. 117 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Actor Krzysztof Majchrzak will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 5:30)

Short films, program one

Michal Kwiecinski directed The White Dress, about a feud between two families in a village in southern Poland. In Adam Guzinski’s Antichrist (2002) the ringleader of a gang of boys convinces himself that he’s supernatural. 93 min. (Copernicus Center, 8:00)


Short documentaries, program one

Grzegorz Krolikiewicz’s And Then They Call Him Bandit (2002), showing without subtitles, is about Major Jozef Kuras, a member of the Polish underground during World War II. Also showing: Boguslaw Dabrowa-Kostka’s Shadows (2002). 88 min. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Short documentaries, program two

Jerzy Kalina’s Pursuit of Truth–Part One looks at political protest in Belarus, and Jozef Kamil Brzostowski’s Unwanted Children (2002) is about the poverty-stricken offspring of Poles deported to Siberian gulags. 74 min. (Society for Arts, 9:00)


Short documentaries, program three

Karolina Bendera’s unpolished but undeniably tragic video documentary What About You, Karolinka? begins with 18-year-old amateur actress Karolina Sobczak gleefully unwrapping the award she won at the Chicago International Film Festival for her performance in Robert Glinski’s 2001 Polish feature Hi, Tereska, a kitchen-sink drama set in a squalid public housing project. Bendera, who was Glinski’s assistant, followed Sobczak back to her comparably miserable real life: she tries to build a better future for herself and her beautiful infant son by steering clear of the alcoholism surrounding her, but the only male role models in sight are heavily tattooed ex-convicts and boozing louts. Marcin Koszalka’s Nameday Party is a bare-bones look at life in a Krakow mental institution where the meek inmates are corralled into mounting an inane pageant for the greater glory of the smug administratrix. 71 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Spring to Come

Adapted from a novel by Stefan Zeromski, this has all the strengths and weaknesses of a historical picaresque: colorful characters, interesting locales, and glimpses into historical events, all set in a sprawling and aimless plot. After Azerbaijan is invaded by the Bolsheviks, a callow young man from a prosperous family (Mateusz Damiecki) sets out to find his father, traveling from Baku to Moscow to the Polish countryside, where he joins a group of student revolutionaries. Writer-director Filip Bajon manages to stay focused amid the sweeping, Tolstoyan story, evoking with a few specific shots the look and feel of an Azerbaijani oil field, a Polish country estate, a packed railcar traveling through eastern Europe, and other exotic settings. 140 min. (Jack Helbig) (Beverly Arts Center, 7:30)

Short films by Maciej Adamek

Three short documentaries, all produced in 2002 for Poland’s Channel Two: Live It Up, Competition, and Return. Adamek will attend. 74 min. (Society for Arts, 9:00)


Short films, program two

In Iwona Siekierzynska’s My Fried Chicken (2002) a woman sets out to make a film about her husband’s business selling fried chicken from a stall. Also showing: Antichrist (see “Short films, program one” on Sunday, November 9). 86 min. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

With Fire and Sword

Jerzy Hoffman directed this 1999 adaptation of a historical novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. It’s set in the mid-17th century, when rival armies of Poles, Tatars, Cossacks, and rebellious peasants battled for control of Poland and the Ukraine. The film is filled with brutality–impalings, hangings, the torching of villages–yet none of it seems gratuitous; its epic battles recall the grand devastation of Kurosawa’s films, and Hoffman never loses sight of his characters, the warlords who fancy themselves errant knights but behave like cutthroats. In true Hollywood fashion he also finds time for a romance between the most beautiful princess in Poland and the one warrior who looks good wearing mud and a three-day beard. But he’s much more interested in capturing the sweep of history and sketching its various players; his utterly absorbing epic succeeds as both historical document and ripping good adventure story. 180 min. (Jack Helbig) (Beverly Arts Center, 7:30)

Short documentaries, program four

Alina Mrowinska’s To Wake Up Ola (2002) concerns actress Ewa Blaszczyk and her comatose six-year-old daughter. Miroslaw Dembinski’s Common Flight looks at the marriage of a man paralyzed in a paragliding accident. 78 min. (Society for Arts, 9:00)


On Hitler’s Highway

Filmmaker Lech Kowalski cruises the oldest highway in Poland, built by the Germans during the occupation, and interviews various representatives of modern Poland he meets along the way (2002). In English. 85 min. (Society for Arts, 7:00)


Lech Majewski directed this 2001 feature about a commune dedicated to ideals of spiritual perfection. 106 min. (Beverly Arts Center, 7:30)

Short documentaries, program five

Two portraits produced for Poland’s Channel One: Iga Cembrzynska’s 48 Hours in the Life of a Woman (2002) looks at boxing champion Agnieszka Rylik, and Barbara Pawlowska’s Dasha profiles the seven-year-old star of a Polish reality-TV program. 84 min. (Society for Arts, 9:00)