Polish Film Festival in America

The 11th annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, continues Friday, November 12, through Saturday, November 20. Screenings will be at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $7, $6 for members of the Society for Arts; passes are also available for $35 (six screenings) and $75 (fifteen screenings). For more information call 773-486-9612. Commentary by Jack Helbig (JH) and Ted Shen (TS).


About Those Who Stole Nothing

A cop and a reporter try to solve a mystery amid the skulduggery of a small town. Lukasz Wylezalek directed; to be shown without subtitles. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

Like a Drug

Barbara Sass directed this melodrama about a young poet with a heart condition who agonizes over the meaning of life. Anna (Magdalena Cielecka, looking sultry and dazed) writes impulsive verse, muses over metaphysics, talks to an imaginary girl who might be her conscience, and beds down with a succession of men after her husband commits suicide. Sass sets the story amid the political tensions of the early 80s, casting Anna as a new kind of Polish woman: independent, assertive, sexually adventurous, yet emotionally vulnerable. But despite the feminist posturing and intellectual veneer, this is really an old-fashioned “women’s picture.” (TS) Sass will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 9:00)


Father’s Law

Actor Marek Kondrat makes his directorial debut with this drama of a father who takes the law into his own hands after the men who’ve raped his daughter go unpunished. To be shown without subtitles; Kondrat will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 6:00)

The Last Mission

Wojciech Wojcik directed this thriller about a Polish hit man living in Paris who retires to become a private detective but finds himself being offered one last target. Wojcik, actor Peter Lucas, and cinematographer Piotr Wojtowicz will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 8:00)


With Fire and Sword

Jerzy Hoffman directed this three-hour adaptation of a historical novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz (Quo Vadis?), set in the mid-17th century when rival armies of Poles, Tartars, cossacks, and rebellious peasants battled for control of Poland and the Ukraine. The film is filled with brutality–impaling, hangings, 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 only 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. (JH) (Copernicus Center, noon)

Pan Tadeusz

Andrzej Wajda, the grand old man of the Polish cinema, adapts a seminal work in his nation’s literature: Adam Mickiewicz’s 1834 epic poem about two feuding noble families who are reconciled by the marriage of their heirs. The film opens with Mickiewicz reading his patriotic work to a group of exiles in Paris, and while he meant the poem as a call for unity, he also mocked the landed gentry for their frivolous pursuits, petty squabbles, and confused politics. Assisted by Adek Drabinski, Wajda has padded the tale with invented dialogue and tortuous plot twists while meticulously re-creating a gilded, idyllic world of bear hunts, banquets, and amorous dalliances. Mickiewicz’s nationalist rhetoric survives in the declamatory speeches huffily delivered by some of the actors–at the expense of the story, which veers dangerously close to a static history lesson from Masterpiece Theatre. Wajda’s longtime collaborator Allan Starski (Schindler’s List) supervised the production design, and the distinguished cast (including Marek Kondrat, Daniel Olbrychski, Grazyna Szapolowska, and Boguslaw Linda) ranges from the eloquent to the barely believable. (TS) Drabinski, Kondrat, and Olbrychski will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 4:00)

The Last Mission

See listing for Saturday, November 13. Director Wojciech Wojcik, actor Peter Lucas, and cinematographer Piotr Wojtowicz will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 7:30)


Documentary films, program one

In Piotr Morawski’s Tata, I Love You, an American couple adopt five Polish siblings. Magdalena Piekorz’s The Franciscan Sponty profiles some Franciscan monks building a giant nativity scene in Katowice’s basilica church. In Jacek Jedrzejewicz’s Alpinist, showing without subtitles, an HIV-positive man staffs a business with mountain climbers. To be shown by video projection. (Society for Arts, 7:30)


Documentary films, program two

Maciej Adamek’s And I Won’t Leave You Until the End profiles two disabled men who assist each other through life. Showing without subtitles are Athena Sawidis’s It Won’t Be the Court That’ll Judge You, Pedophile, about the persecution of pedophiles in Polish prisons, and Marcin Mamon’s The Real Godfather, which includes interviews with Polish Mafia chief Hozh-Ahmed Nukhayev and commentary by author Frederick Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal). To be shown by video projection. (Society for Arts, 7:30)


Documentary films, program three

Katarzyna Maciejko-Kowalczyk’s Benek Blues profiles a father who used to be a monk and his photographer son–both of them disabled. Ewa Straburzynska’s On High Heels profiles an attractive, stylish graduate of the Academy of Economics who’s set up her own rat-extermination business. In Grzegorz Krolikiewicz’s Over the Whole Body, showing without subtitles, members of the Stalinist secret police in communist Poland are put on trial for their past crimes. To be shown by video projection. (Society for Arts, 7:30)


The Gateway of Europe

Jerzy Wojcik directed this feature set just after the Bolshevik revolution, about three young Polish women who serve in a field hospital near the Russian front. To be shown by video projection, without subtitles. (Society for Arts, 7:00 and 9:00)