Polish Movie Springtime

This festival of contemporary Polish films, presented by the Society for Arts, continues Friday through Tuesday, March 24 through 28. Screenings will be at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $8. For more information call 773-486-9612.


All My Dearest People

Matej Minac directed this 1999 drama about two childhood friends who are separated during World War II and reunited in old age. To be shown without subtitles. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

Boys Don’t Cry

A young violinist gets mixed up with gangsters in this 1999 film by Olaf Lubaszenko. To be shown without subtitles; Lubaszenko will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 9:15)


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. This 1999 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) (Copernicus Center, 10:30 am)


With Fire and Sword

Jerzy Hoffman directed this three-hour 1999 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. (Jack Helbig) (Copernicus Center, 10:30 am)

Pan Tadeusz

See listing for Saturday, March 25. (Copernicus Center, 4:15)


Documentary films, program one

Three 1999 films, each running about 25 minutes. Magdalena Piekorz’s Strangers documents the conflict between the villagers of Wolimierz and a group of artists who’ve settled there. Krzysztof Wierzbicki’s Cryptonym “Yankee” profiles Janusz Majewski, a black Pole who became a Solidarity activist in the early 80s. And Wierzbicki’s Kieslowski i jego “Amator”, to be shown without subtitles, tells the story behind Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 1979 film Camera Buff. To be shown by video projection. (Society for Arts, 7:00)


Documentary films, program two

Three 1999 documentaries, each running about 25 minutes. In Marcin Koszalka’s Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth To a film student records his tense relationship with his parents. In Tadeusz Palka’s Tell Me About Your Love nine different women describe romantic relationships. And an episode from Wojciech Szumowski’s 24-part series The First Scream follows the personal travails of women preparing to give birth. To be shown by video projection. (Society for Arts, 7:00)