Welcome


WELCOME to Film Club OKO! WHERE
: POLISH CULTURAL CENTER, Upstairs •
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.
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Sunday, May 27, 2018

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

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  • 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):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPzgGpPNHJk&t=8s

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):


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Friday, February 16th : Strawberry Wine (2008), by Dariusz Jablonski

We are very lucky to have another film introduced by our UW Polish Studies Fulbright scholar,  Justyna Budzik, PhD.

She will bring us a  story that [...] is not a love story though it is full of love. It is not a comedy though the characters often say funny things. It is not a detective story even though the hero is trying to solve a murder. It is not a nature drama though it shows the splendid colours and customs of the countryside. It is not a musical though Lubica expresses her longing in a passionate dance. Nor is it a film about ghosts though a ghost does ask the hero for a favour. A few draughts of Strawberry Wine are enough to take us into a magical world in the true centre of Europe, where love, crime and penitence are just as much a part of life as the changing of the seasons, the migration of birds or the flowing of a mountain stream.[...] - —Anonymous at IMDb

Wino truskawkowe / Strawberry Wine, Poland/Slovakia. Director: Dariusz Jabłoński, screenplay: Andrzej Stasiuk, Dariusz Jabłoński based on Andrzej Stasiuk's Opowieści galicyjskie / Galician Tales,; the film is in Polish, with English,  at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, February 16, 7:30 pm.

Dr. Budzik found an interesting write-up about the movie at culture.pl  - go there for the entire text, here is a fragment: [...] Dariusz Jabłoński, a well-known documentary director (including the award-winning Fotoamator / Photographer, 1998) and producer (the "Pokolenie 2000" / "Generation 2000" TV series, Przedwiośnie / The Spring to Come), who chose Galician Tales for his feature debut. His vision of Beskid Niski, around which we are shown by a man from Warsaw (physically resembling Andrzej Stasiuk - not a coincidence), is a blend of selected themes from Stasiuk's stories. 

These have been chosen to show off the beauty of the region, its extraordinary if not magical character on the one hand, and to sketch a gallery of unusual characters, who at first seem ordinary people, on the other. These are people who have many weaknesses, but are beautiful in their communing with nature, understanding of the world, faith in ghosts and divine providence. 

In Stasiuk and Jabłoński's eyes, Beskid Niski is a world of real men - tough guys struggling with not necessarily friendly nature, their own weaknesses, and excruciating loneliness. Maybe they do drink too much, but who can blame them? Cheap wine is not only a key to communicating with others, it's also a key to a magical world whose presence can be felt at every step. How can it not, when there's a Catholic roadside shrine standing next to the ruins of an Orthodox church, while the ford on the river is lined with matzevas from a Jewish cemetery? [...]

Trailer, here:

See you at the film and we will have strawberry wine :)


• • • • •

Next film Friday, March 16th: REZERWAT, 2007, by Lukasz Palkowski (comedy) -  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.

For blog Polandian review of the REZERWAT click here...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Friday, January 19th: Finding Neverland (2004), with music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Film host: our UW Polish Studies Fulbright scholar,  Justyna Budzik, PhD, with a story of J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan, with music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (Jan won his first Oscar for Best Original Score on Marc Forster's highly acclaimed film, "Finding Neverland.").

The film is in English,  at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, January 19, 7:30 pm.

Finding Neverland:  In this drama, we are told the story of how J.M. Barrie came up with the play Peter Pan. After some failed attempts at creating a well written play, Barrie finds himself in a park playing with his dog. Several moments later he will come to meet the inspiration for his next play, four small boys and a widowed mother, who seems to be growing weaker by the day. Soon, the whole town is talking about Barrie and the Davies family, which causes some rough waters in his marriage. But what comes from his experiences is the play that comes to be known as Peter Pan.
—thexotherxchris

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
From culture.pl: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek - Composer and musician. Composer of film scores for over 50 feature and documentary films, and Oscar winner for the sound track of Finding Neverland. Born on April 29, 1953, in Konin.

Jan Andrzej Paweł Kaczmarek's grandfather was a violinist who played in movie theatres with local musicians. As a child Kaczmarek was a frequent guest at the Poznań Philharmonic where he attended symphonies. Around the same time he also started studying piano, and his first success came when he composed a school anthem while still a high school student in Konin. He also composed music for his school theatre. Intent on pursuing a diplomatic career Kaczmarek enrolled at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań to study law. [...] More here.

Finding Neverland:  In this drama, we are told the story of how J.M. Barrie came up with the play Peter Pan. After some failed attempts at creating a well written play, Barrie finds himself in a park playing with his dog. Several moments later he will come to meet the inspiration for his next play, four small boys and a widowed mother, who seems to be growing weaker by the day. Soon, the whole town is talking about Barrie and the Davies family, which causes some rough waters in his marriage. But what comes from his experiences is the play that comes to be known as Peter Pan.
—thexotherxchris

Trailer here:

See you at the film!



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Friday, December 15th: 80 MILLION, 2011 film by Waldemar Krzystek

Film host: Joanna Filipek brings us another film about Solidarity  era: activists prepare a bravura heist, taking out 80 mln from a union bank account just before it is blocked by communist authorities.

As always, with English subtitles at Polish Home upstairs, Friday, December 15, 7:30 pm.  We actually mean 7:30 sharp from now on, no waiting for people showing up at 8 pm, as it's hard to start the film discussion late at night, when everybody thinks about safely getting home.

80 Million (Polish: 80 milionów) is a 2011 Polish drama film directed by Waldemar Krzystek. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist

From Hollywood Reporter:  [...] Based on real events, the official Polish entry in the Best Foreign Language Oscar race is a punchy period thriller with a universal feel-good message. Set at the dawn of Poland’s final turbulent decade under the yoke of Soviet Communism, 80 Million joins the swelling ranks of dramas from former Eastern Bloc nations that re-examine the dying days of Russian rule - films like Kolya from the Czech Republic, The Lives of Others from Germany, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days from Romania. It may just be coincidence, but two of these three won Academy Awards.

The 58-year-old director Waldemar Krzystek grew up under Communism, but 80 Million is less a political drama than a lively hybrid of action movie, heist thriller and dark comedy. Shot in a fairly conventional but fast-paced style, it features double agents, treacherous lovers, divided families, car chases and wily Catholic priests working for the anti-government underground. Classic spy-movie material, in other words, with a stirring and easily understood good-vs-evil plotline that could play well to foreign audiences with the right marketing. [...]

From Eye for Film: [...] Though 80 Million may lack the wit and style of most bank robbery films, the awareness that this is a true story makes it differently gripping. Patient, observational, it generates tension from small glances and elicits sympathy wih its depiction of everyday lives, which by contrast make the scale of the scheme awe-inspiring. In a pivotal scene, the thieves discover that they haven't brought enough bags for all the cash - they literally couldn't imagine that much money. [...]

Trailer: