Polish Film Festival in America

The tenth annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, runs Saturday, November 7, through Sunday, November 22, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence. Tickets for most programs are $7, $6 for Society for Arts members. Passes are also available for $35 (six screenings) and $75 (fifteen screenings). For more information call 773-486-9612. Commentary by Adam Langer (AL).


Land of Promise

Turn-of-the-century Lodz supplies the backdrop for this epic critique of industrialization by Andrzej Wajda (Man of Iron, Danton), recipient of a 1998 lifetime achievement award from the Venice film festival. A near-operatic account of three young men–one German, one Polish, one Jewish–whose partnership in a mill leads to ruin, this 1974 film presents an uncompromising vision of industrial society tumbling into an abyss of violence, decadence, and cruelty. The story unfolds like a more cynical version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: instead of moving from rationality to gold-thirsty insanity, the three prospectors devolve from unpleasant greediness to utter despicability, making their tragic fate seem more like a long-overdue comeuppance. Wajda’s humanitarian impulses are compromised somewhat by his Shylockian Jews and insatiable, bosom-heaving women; the film’s sweeping vision and brilliant structure only make these shortcomings more glaring. Nominated for an Academy Award; with Daniel Olbrychski and Andrzej Seweryn. (AL) (10:30 am)

Deserters’ Gold

His Majesty’s Deserters (1985) detailed the exploits of five misfit Austro-Hungarian soldiers assigned to guard Italian prisoners of war during World War I. This sequel, also directed by Janusz Majewski, finds two of the characters caught up in a plot to steal gold from the gestapo during the Nazi invasion of Poland. On the same program, trailers for new features by Jerzy Hoffman and Andrzej Wajda and two short films: Jacek Adamczak’s animated Of Great Shame–Tales From the Lailonia Kingdom for the Big and Small and Marcel Lozinski’s 1985 documentary My Place. Tickets for this opening-night screening are $15. (7:00)


Kingdom of Green Glade

Krzysztof Kiwerski directed this 1994 animated feature about a young boy who tries to save a mythical forest from destruction. (Noon)

Marcel Lozinski retrospective, program one

Lozinski’s 1977 feature How to Live and two shorts, The King (1975) and Movie No. 1650 (1976). Lozinski will attend the screening. (2:00)

A Story of the Movies From the Village of Popielawy

See Critic’s Choice. (4:00)

Someone Else’s Happiness

A heaping helping of made-for-TV treacle. Coincidences and logical leaps abound as a young boy’s bicycle accident transforms his unconvincingly happy family into an unconvincingly unhappy one. When the boy’s father is refused as a blood donor, he immediately questions his parenthood and seeks genetic testing; after his suspicions are confirmed his wife does some nifty detective work and concludes that their child was switched at birth with that of an equally unhappy German couple. This scenario grows even more preposterous with an aborted kidnapping, child-swapping schemes, and a boys’ river escape straight out of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Forced to play boneheaded adults or cloyingly sweet children, the actors struggle with banal, sub-ER dialogue courtesy of writer-director Miroslaw Bork and coscreenwriter Hans-Werner Honert. Unimaginatively filmed, scored with lugubrious piano and strings that dictate the desired emotional response, Someone Else’s Happiness might function effectively as a public service film discouraging genetic testing, but as a narrative it fails to evoke emotion even in its most bathetic scenes. (AL) (6:00)

Love Me and Do Anything

A classically trained musician, reduced to a job as a church organist, leaves his hometown and his fiancee and winds up playing disco in a nightclub. Robert Glinski directed this 1997 feature. (8:00)


Vershinin’s Bed

Andrzej Domalik’s backstage drama cleverly explores the interplay among film, theater, and video as a TV crew records a rehearsal of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, framed by a filmed sequence about the playwright’s final days. Much of the backstage plot is pretty conventional: an enthusiastic ingenue gets to jump into a lead role, an actor rebuffs the advances of a smitten director, a great actress tries to overcome stage fright, a weary old pro turns his back on his trade. But Domalik handles this shopworn material with great subtlety; instead of lingering on the melodramatic, he catches simple words, gestures, and glances, allowing us to surmise the rest. His approach ultimately precludes much ironic distance from the self-absorbed thespians, yet this oddly engaging film does open a window onto a society too rarely depicted, in which acting and directing are still regarded as intellectual pursuits. (AL) (7:00)


A spunky 18-year-old hopes to get an abortion as she travels across Poland in search of her grandmother, accompanied by her dunderheaded friend Cyp (a semicloseted Catholic who prays to a picture of Jesus he keeps hidden in his briefcase) and the sweet, seemingly simpleminded teenage girl they pick up along the way. This hip, fresh road picture by Michal Rosa exudes an infectious indie charm and a deadpan wit, deftly satirizing both Bible thumpers and purportedly groovy underground types. Though indifferently plotted, it makes the most of its improvisational, shot-in-a-day feel, brimming with life during its dance and air-guitar sequences (underscored by Mateusz Pospieszalski’s propulsive garage-punk sound track) and its beautiful scenes of train travel, which suggest a breathless world in a state of constant motion. (AL) (8:45)


Krzysztof Kieslowski

retrospective, program one

Seven documentaries: The Tram (1966), The Office (1966), Concert of Requests (1967), From the City of Lodz (1969), I Was a Soldier (1970), Factory (1970), and Before the Rally (1971). (7:00)

A Story of the Movies From the Village of Popielawy

See Critic’s Choice. (8:45)



See listing under Monday, November 9. (7:00)

Marcel Lozinski retrospective, program two

Six documentaries: High School Finals (1977), The Microphone Test (1980), The Workshop (1984), My Place (1985), 89 mm From Europe (1993), and Anything May Happen (1994). (8:45)


Krzysztof Kieslowski

retrospective, program two

Five documentaries: Refrain (1972), Bricklayer (1973), X-Ray (1974), Curriculum Vitae (1975), and Slate (1976). (7:00)


Natalia Koryncka-Gruz directed this feature about the deepening friendship between a young radio reporter and a broker on the Warsaw stock exchange. (8:45)