1714 -18th Avenue • Seattle WA 98122. WHEN: THIRD FRIDAY of the month • 7:30 PM (usually, but check for details on each film) • Free admission

Our Mission: Polish Film Club OKO is a private discussion club, affiliated with the Polish Cultural Center in Seattle (a non-profit organization), and devoted to promoting Polish-themed film art in the Pacific Northwest through exposure, education and discussion - ALL FILMS HAVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.
See you at Kino OKO and thank you for being a film friend. aleks in seattle. OKO logo by Iza Turski.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Friday, January 18 at 7:30: The Last Stage (Polish: Ostatni etap), 1947 film by Wanda Jakubowska

The Last Stage (Polish: Ostatni Etap) is a 1947 feature film directed and co-written by Poland's first female filmmaker Wanda Jakubowska, depicting her experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.  

Plot: A Jewish family from Poland, the Weisses, is sent to Auschwitz where the daughter, Martha, is selected to be an interpreter. The rest of her family is cruelly killed, and Martha and the other Poles must struggle under the tyranny of camp guards and capos.  

Stars: Tatjana Gorecka, Antonina Gordon-Górecka, Barbara Drapinska, Aleksandra Slaska, Edward Dziewonski.  The film won the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 1948, and it was nominated for Grand International Award at Venice Film Festival in 1948 and for a BAFTA Award for Best Film from Any Source in 1950. 

The Last Stage was a pioneering work and the first narrative film to portray the Nazi concentration and extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau, an important and historic film that deserves to be reproduced better, but still well worth seeing. Last Stage was made just two years after WWII had ended. 

Amazingly it was filmed in Auschwitz and the Polish actor and actresses actually sleep in the barracks while the movie was being filmed and wore the actual prison uniforms that had been sanitized but still were stained with blood, etc.

There is a book about the film by Marek Haltof, a professor at Northern Michigan University, who has published several books in English and Polish on the cultural histories of Central European and Australian film:  "Screening Auschwitz: Wanda Jakubowska's The Last Stage and the Politics of Commemoration (Cultural Expressions)"

Film hosts for the evening: Linda and Bruce. The film (1h 50 min) is in Polish, with English subtitles, at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, January 18, 7:30 pm.

Friday, November 2, 2018


ATTENTION, CHANGE OF PLANS:  Due to the November celebrations of 100th anniversary of the Polish Home in Seattle as well as the 100th anniversary of Polish independence, a film 'The Last Stage (Polish: Ostatni etap) is now rescheduled for January 2019.

Instead, we will re-screen shown at SPFF 2018 three recent documentaries about Polish Community in Seattle:

•  Passing the Torch: 100 Years of the Polish Home Association
This movie has been produced by the PHA historical video and oral history project in 2017 & 2018. Based on dozens of interviews and a wealth of historical materials it shows the rich history of the Polish community through different eras and the role PHA and the Polish Home played as the anchor of Polish life in Seattle and the Washington state. It shows achievements and initiatives that transformed the Polish Home from an ethnic fraternity into a vibrant cultural center presenting Polish culture and traditions.

Trailer of 'Passing the Torch':

•  Bronka, Lady of the Mountain / Kobieta Skała
This is the second documentary created by director Meleń during her visit in April 2018. The film shows a profile of Bronka Sundstrom, a 93 years old mountaineer guide who lives in a house near the Mt. Rainier National Park entrance.

•  A Piece of Poland in Seattle / Kawałek Polski w Seattle
This movie, commissioned by PHA, shows the Polish community through the eyes of the Polish director Monika Meleń, it was shot during her visit to Seattle in April 2018. Footage of different events happening at that time illustrate the current cultural life of the community while interviews with PHA members show different ways and reasons for Poles to immigrate to the Seattle area.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Friday, September 21th at 7:30: BYOF (maybe)

About next few OKO sessions:

• SEPTEMBER: I'm having trouble to secure a Polish full feature film with English subtitles, so we will screen two very interesting short films, but... You can bring your own film and if the audience decides to see it, we will do so.  You can also communicate ahead of time via comment section below or via blog's  email (mailaleksblog at gmail.com - change 'at' to '@' and make it one word) if you have questions or title of film you want to bring...  In case nobody brings an alternative film we will see:

1.)  Maestro: Andres Bukowinski, his life and films, 2001, directed by Andrzej Bart (the author of the script for the film Rewers /Reverse) -  27 minutes documetary.  Born in Poland in 1940, Andres Bukowinski began his advertising career in Argentina, won numerous international awards for his commercials,  later moved to Brazil, and began reacquainting himself with Poland in the 90s. He made about 3000 ads and is often called the King of Commercials.

From Culture.pl: [...] In 2003, at the XV Polish Film Festival in Chicago, Bukowiński received the Wings Award for ‘outstanding achievements in the art of film beyond Poland’.  The organizer of the festival, Christopher Kamyszew, said of the decision:  The advertising films directed by Andrzej Bukowiński are small masterpieces of cinematic art, cinematic metaphors of the highest level.  He has made so much of them; he must be admired for his creativity and consequential art.  Calling Andrzej’s films advertisements is in some ways arbitrary.  They are both advertisements and artistic expressions of the existential philosophy of their creator.  [...]

In anticipation of an after film discussion here is a link to Wendy Mellilo article, titled: Is Advertising Art? that was posted in adweek in 2011.  It begins with those words:  Inside America’s largest museum complex, the untutored eye might assume the image of a woman adorned in a bright yellow dress, one white-gloved hand gripping a parasol, is something by an Impressionist. And after a cursory glance, the poem of love and longing printed beneath her could be confused with a Robert Browning work.

Not until one notices the words “Ivory soap” at the end of the poem does the work reveal itself—as a Procter & Gamble print ad. [...]

Most of the materials about Bukowinski are in Spanish or Polish, but below his most famous work of art titled  'Hitler' - an ad for the newspaper Folha de São Paolo -  it has been listed as ‘One of 40 World’s Best Commercials of the Century’, and another ad, titled 'O Mundo',  for the same newspaper -  in their English renditions:

2.) The Cathedral (Polish: Katedra) -  7 minutes 2002 short animated movie by Tomasz Bagiński, based on a science fiction short story by Jacek Dukaj, winner of the Janusz A. Zajdel Award in 2000. The film was nominated in 2002 for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film for the 75th Academy Awards. The film also won the title of Best Animated Short at Siggraph 2002 in San Antonio. About the plot, read here...

• OCTOBER is the month of Seattle Polish Film Festival (SPFF),  which hopefully will include 3 short films about local Polonia,  so no OKO screening unless we want to re-screen those 3 local films.

• NOVEMBER: a audience memebr Linda K. will present The Last Stage (Polish: Ostatni etap),  a 1947 Polish feature film directed and co-written by Wanda Jakubowska, depicting her experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

• • • •

ATTENTION: Polish Film Club OKO is ready for adoption! Oko has existed in the current form since 2010, and was meant to promote Polish-themed film art in the Pacific Northwest through exposure, education and discussion - which is why all the films and dicussions took place in English.

OKO has its slot in Polish Home each 3rd Friday of the month from 7 pm, upstairs - ready for a new management and perhaps a new profile from December 2018.   If interested, please contact me - I'll be happy to continue this blog for the new OKO,  or make a link to your new blog. ola

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Friday, June 15th at 7:30: KORCZAK, a 1990 film by Andrzej Wajda

    Image result for korczak poster

  • Film host: Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady, PhD, 
    Adjunct Professor at the School of Education, Seattle Pacific University. Tatyana is a member of many international organizations including the Association for Moral Education; Comparative International Education Society; Janusz Korczak Association of the United States, and formerly, Korczak Association of Russia.  Thank you Tatyana! 

    KORCZAK   •   Unrated | 1h 58min | Biography, Drama | 6 May 1990 (Poland)

    Director: Andrzej Wajda, Writer: Agnieszka Holland.  Stars: Wojciech Pszoniak, Ewa Dalkowska, Teresa Budzisz-Krzyzanowska 
    In Polish with English subtitles, at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, June 15, 7:30 pm

    The film is an account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war. Jewish doctor Henryk Goldszmit, known also as Janusz Korczak, is a man of high principles. He is unafraid of shouting at German officers and frequently has to be persuaded to save his own life. His orphanage, set up in a cramped school in the Warsaw ghetto, provides shelter to 200 homeless kids. Putting his experimental educational methods into practice, he installs a kind of children's self-government, whose justice is in a big contrast to what is happening in the outside world. Right in front of the school, dozens of kids are dying or being killed everyday and their naked bodies lie on the street unattended. Ghetto's mayor assures Korczak that the orphanages will be saved. Korczak raises food and money for the orphanage from the rich Jews. In the final roundup he refuses to accept a Swiss passport and boards the train to Treblinka with his orphans.
    New York Times article about the ending of the film that was seen as controversial by some viewers:  [...] Mr. Wajda argued that movie makers have a duty to leave their audience with something more. He said he never considered ending the film with its penultimate shot, which shows the train speeding away from Warsaw toward the concentration camp.
    "Such an ending would have said to me that all these endeavors of Dr. Korczak were sunk in a black hole; that pedagogy in the face of force has no sense; that no efforts of man can reverse the fact that he is dying so accidentally. This would be an awful, existentialist point of view.
    "There would have been nothing easier than showing the death of the children in the gas chamber," Mr. Wajda. "It would have been a very moving scene. Everyone would have been crying. But do we have the right, does art have the right to show this? Is art for this?
    "Isn't art for telling it in some different way? Art has to stop short of certain facts, has to look for other possibilities. It seems to me that it is beautiful that when we do not agree to the fact that the children were gassed, we create a legend that these children go somewhere, into some better world."[...]

    Official website of the director/film here...    Cannot find the trailer in English, or Polish, for that matter, but youtube has it in German:
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG0GFBjdeA0

    Image result for korczak film stills

    • • • • •

    Film club OKO will be on vacation all summer - no films till September. have a great summer!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Friday, May 18th at 7:30: SOLARIS, by by Steven Soderbergh, 2002

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Solaris is a 2002 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. It is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanisław Lem.

From wikipedia:  While admitting that he had not seen the film, Lem referred to Soderbergh's adaptation as a "remake of the Tarkovsky movie" and criticized what he had heard as departing far from his original intentions by focusing almost exclusively on the psychological relationship between the two main characters, while reducing the vast and alien ocean to a mere "mirror" of humanity:

“...to my best knowledge, the book was not dedicated to erotic problems of people in outer space... As Solaris' author I shall allow myself to repeat that I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps, but cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images. This is why the book was entitled "Solaris" and not "Love in Outer Space".”
       — Stanislaw Lem, The Solaris Station (December 8, 2002)

From Roger Ebert's 3.5 stars review: Solaris tells the story of a planet that reads minds, and obliges its visitors by devising and providing people they have lost, and miss. The Catch-22 is that the planet knows no more than its visitors know about these absent people. As the film opens, two astronauts have died in a space station circling the planet, and the survivors have sent back alarming messages. A psychiatrist named Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is sent to the station, and when he awakens after his first night on board, his wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone), is in bed with him. Some time earlier on earth, she had committed suicide. [...]

Next film Friday, June 15: 'Korczak' by Wajda, 1991

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Friday, April 20th at 7:30: PASSENGER 1963, by Andrzej Munk

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Passenger (Polish: Pasażerka) is a 1963 Polish feature film directed by Andrzej Munk. Munk died in a car crash during screening. The unfinished film was assembled for release by directors Witold Lesiewicz and Andrzej Brzozowski.  The film (1h 2 min) is in Polish, with English subtitles,  at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, March 16, 7:30 pm.

The last film of Andrzej Munk, who died in a crash during the filming. A German woman  (played by Aleksandra Śląska) on a ship coming back to Europe notices a face of another woman which brings recollections from the past. She tells her husband that she has been an overseer in Auschwitz during the war, but she has actually saved a woman's life. Her vision is shown and then the actual events. Written by Polish Cinema Database

The source was a radio drama Passenger from Cabin Number 45, written in 1959 by a survivor of Auschwitz and Ravensbrück concentration camps, Zofia Posmysz-Piasecka. Posmysz's play was later reworked into a novel. It was published in 1962 as Pasażerka.  The novel was subsequently translated into 15 languages. The original radio drama was adapted for an award-winning feature film, while the novel was adapted into an opera by the same title with music by Mieczysław Weinberg.

From Harvard Film Archive: [...] Andrzej Munk’s tragic death at age thirty-nine might have formed the plot for one of his own darkly sardonic works: a Polish Jew and an active resistance worker during the war, he was returning home from shooting his film Passenger at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1961 when an oncoming truck struck his car. He left behind only four feature films, but his influence was prodigious. As one of the key figures of the postwar “Polish School” of filmmaking, along with Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Kawalerowicz, he helped to shape a vision that broke with the official social realist optimism of Eastern-bloc dogma and cast a skeptical eye on official notions of heroism, nationalism, and life in the Stalinist-occupied state. Teacher and mentor to such cinematic heirs as Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, his influence can be felt even in the films of a later generation of Polish filmmakers—directors like Zanussi and Kieslowski.

Munk’s cinema—often compared to the literature of his compatriot Witold Gombrowicz—showcases the ways in which ordinary people go about making sense of extraordinary times; and if sense can not be found, his films imply, then absurdity and satire should take its place. Though he died young, Andrzej Munk brought a fully realized and radically nonconformist vision to a culture caught between the ravages of wartime and the exigencies of a numbing new conformity. It is a body of work that bears re-viewing. [...]

From Vertigo by David Balfour: [...] The film is a combination of the live action material shot on location in Auschwitz prison camp, still photography taken whilst location scouting with actors, and a voice-over that guides the audience through the film. These three elements combine and interact over the course of film. The result is a film that investigates the way memory can act as protection against the past. It exists not only as whole, but also as series of multi-layer speculations into filmic form, that sheds light on the very essence of memory. It is the interplay between the film’s form and content which create a unique viewing experience, one that calls on the viewer to re-evaluate not just the memory of the characters in the film but their own memory of the film. [...]

From culture.pl:  [...] It is said that Andrzej Munk's idea for The Passenger originated when he had heard a radio broadcast of Zofia Posmysz’s Passenger from Cabin 45 (1959). The author, a former Auschwitz inmate, wrote her debut novel after meeting a group of Germans, one of whom, a woman, spoke with a voice confusingly similar to the voice of a guard from the camp. Zofia Posmysz, who had never returned to her camp experiences before that day, revealed that this encounter triggered her decision to look at a concentration camp not from the perspective of a prisoner, which was the common approach in martyrological literature, but of the perpetrator. Such a writing method was a significant novelty in the literature centred around the Nazi death camps. [...]

I cannot find a trailer for the film 'Passenger' (in Polish or English), but here is a link to 46 minutes documentary about Andrzej Munk 'The Last Pictures', (it has English subtitles):

Opera Passenger trailer:

Next film on May18th, Friday:  Solaris, 2002 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. It is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanisław Lem.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Friday, March 16th at 7:30: REZERWAT, 2007, by Lukasz Palkowski (comedy)

This will be the last film introduced by our UW Polish Studies Fulbright scholar,  Justyna Budzik, PhD, before she leaves her post.  Thank you, Justyna!

Rezerwat /The reservation, Poland 2007,  Director: Lukasz Palkowski. Writers: Marcin Kwasny, Lukasz Palkowski. The film (1h 40min) is in Polish, with English subtitles,  at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, March 16, 7:30 pm.

A young photographer moves to Praga, the most notorious district of Warsaw, known for common crime and alcoholism as well as unique folklore. This experience will have much impact on both his personal and professional life.

At the Polish Film Festival, the director, editor, and supporting actress (Sonia Bohosiewicz) all won in their respective categories; additionally, Palkowski won the Critics' Award.

IMDB review by Chris LawsonThis film was shown in Romania as part of the European Film Festival week. This story of everyday life in Praga, a near-slum district in Warsaw, is true, honest and very powerful. [...] The photographer has to make moral compromises right through the film, and turns on the smooth businessmen who employ him. Overwhelming and highly recommended.

Here is the 2008 Guardian article about Warsaw's district of Praga:
Warsaw's wild side
Praga used to be Warsaw's hottest district for all the wrong reasons - until artists and musicians started moving into its abandoned warehouses and factories.

Some Varsovians still think that a night out in Praga is a bit too edgy for comfort, remembering the days when the neighbourhood's soaring crime rate earned it the nickname "the Bermuda Triangle". For decades, it was home to the poorest of Warsaw's poor, and the derelict streets were ruled by the criminal underworld. [...]

Trailer here (no English subtitles in this trailer, but we will have them at OKO screening):