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.

ATTENTION FEBRUARY 2019: OKO's mission changed to promote survival of the Polish language among the immigrants: we will still strive to show films with the English subtitles, but it's no longer a major priority. Watch each post for the info on whether the subtitles are provided. We hope you continue to enjoy the Polish Films!

See you at Kino OKO and thank you for being a film friend. OKO logo by Iza Turski.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alternative Film for November 17th: "WEDDING", 2004

It's a mystery to me who were the people who voted for Krauze's 'Debt', a close runner up for October OKO film, which consequently got scheduled for November meeting.  In private conversations I was told by several people who regularly come to OKO screenings that they are going to skip it, as it's too scary to watch on November evening, they do not wish to squirm before driving home at night.  Frankly, for the very same reason I was planning to bring a book and not to watch it myself (and view this acclaimed movie on some sunny day later).

I'm still going to bring 'Debt' on November 17th OKO Film Club, in case the mystery voters show up, but  I'm also going to bring a second film, ironic comedy titled 'Wedding" (Dir. Wojciech Smarzowski, 2004), and let whoever comes decide which film to watch.

Wojnar is a wealthy man who is marrying off his beautiful daughter Kasia, in a small town in present day Poland. Wojnar had to bribe the groom with a fancy car, since Kasia was pregnant by another man. At the end of the ceremony, the car is delivered by a gangster, who immediately demands the promised money and the deed to land from Kasia's grandfather. Unfortunately grandpa is unwilling to let go of the land. Meanwhile each of the workers at the reception demand to be paid, so Wojnar, who is very reluctant to part with his money, tries to haggle and bribe his way out of all the situations. Written by Will Gilbert

Here is 'The Wedding' trailer on YouTube.
Here a link to film review in English.
Here to film description in Polish, and a review,  also in Polish.

Posted 11/18/10.  Great meeting of friends to watch a movie together, but not sure about the film itself.   Described often as 'bitter-ironic' picture or a comedy, rewarded and noticed at festivals, 'The Wedding' didn't really won me over:  the formula of mixing too much vodka and never ending mishaps tired me fast and was all too predictable.  Also, the director didn't seem to like any of his characters, each and every one of them is ridiculed without any compassion for the life they were born into.  So why  spend the time to tell their story? Just to laugh at their shortcomings, without offering some sort of universal hope or redemption for all the lives born into spiritual wasteland?

I don't know, perhaps I'm just Polish movied-out... There used to be a time when Poland offered great insights and ideas in film.  It doesn't seem to be a case any longer.  Most Polish movies of recent times seem a big disappointment, and based on the idea on how it 'll sell out in theaters: Gory enough?  Gross enough? Funny enough? Will sell fast and enough? Please...

Fortunately, the idea of showing 'The Hourglass Sanatorium' by Wojciech Has (1973) - based on Bruno Schultz mind-blowing prose - came up during our meeting for screening in January or February...

So fasten your belts, we are back to good movies....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

OCTOBER FILM: 10/20  Wed. 7:30 PM
Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1975

The film won October poll narrowly by one vote, whiff!  My own personal preference, so I'm quite happy about it.

The total vote was 18:
Maids of Wilko - 4 votes
The promised Land - 7 votes
The Debt - 6 votes
The White Soup - 0 votes
• (Unspecified) Other - 1 vote

Based on a novel by Wladyslaw Reymont (1924 Nobel Prize for Literature for Chlopi), the film is set in the industrial city of Lodz and tells the story of a Pole, a German, and a Jew struggling to build a factory in the raw world of 19th century capitalism.  Wajda presents a shocking image of the city, with its dirty and dangerous factories and ostentatiously opulent residences devoid of taste and culture.  The film follows in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Maxim Gorky, who gave testimony of social protest.
Starring:  Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Anna Nehrebecka, Kalina Jedrusik and many more big stars of the Polish cinema of 70s - for full cast and credits go there.

Very interesting tele-disc made for the movie here.
Trailer (in Polish only) for the movie here.
Wojciech Kilar's Waltz music from the movie here.
Wajda himself writes about the movie here (+ a few reviews included)
Wikipedia article (in English) about Wladyslaw Reymont here - the script was based on his book.

Posted 10/26:

I read somewhere that the film's message was very acceptable to the Polish regime in power when it was made, and that the film reviewers were government-encouraged to give it high marks for the harsh portrayal of capitalist Poland.  I loved the film the first time around, when it came out, even though back then I don't remember reading any reviews of it - it was just a stunning picture to me, commenting on human traits, beautifully done and acted.  I remember thinking that it will be a hard to forget film, although its political message probably went right over my head - it was a common knowledge back then that Reymont, the author of the book on which the movie script was based, worked as a clerk for an industrialist about the time the book takes place (the end of 19 century), so I thought he wrote on what he saw: the moral and spiritual gangrene that can overtake a person who chooses to act on greed alone.  I also remember noting the workers' struggles and wondering if the class war is over. Oh, well:).

The film  proved so memorable, that watching it so many years later in OKO I noticed how many parts were cut from the DVD version; that I found very disappointing.   Nevertheless the film withstood the test of time: even with some scenes missing, it is still super interesting portrayal of the city of Lodz in certain historical point - when it was very linguistically and culturally diverse, and when Poland was actually off the map as a country!

And the music!  Did I mention the beautiful and haunting music of the film?  It deserves a separate post - not living in Poland for so many years I haven't have the chance to hear it often;  hearing it now touched me the same way as the first time.