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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Next film: Marcel Lozinski's documentaries part 2 • April 20th, Wednesday • please VOTE below

Below are synopsis of the remaining movies from two Lozinski's CDs - I haven't seen any of them (no PAL dvd player), so for compilation below used the booklet that came with the CD set, authored by Tadeusz Sobolewski.

Please read and vote for the film YOU would like to see - because most of the films are relatively short we probably will be able to see several top-runners.

The poll allows for multiple choices (you can vote for up to 3 movies):

1.  HAPPY END / HAPPY END 1972/16'
Lozinski's first film:  real psychodrama taking place in front of camera and exploring themes of herd mentality and aggression of group towards individual.  In this film director for the first time  tries formula which he later uses in many films: artificially provoking situations he needs in order  to probe the mentality of protagonists and reveal something.

Camera is recreating the life of a model railway worker, for whom his work is all that matters.  Right before retirement fatigued Marian Cudny causes a minor crash and the film shows job-leaving ceremony which in reality hadn't been held as the crash cancels his life-long service  as a 'labor-leader'.  One of the first Polish documentaries not glorifying the 'worker', but bringing to light his slave status.

3.  JAK ZYC / HOW TO LIVE 1977/82'
Fenced summer camp for young married couple organized in line with the party line, aimed at educating and integrating, but the guidelines turn it into a menacing grotesque, where  the participants compete for the most ideal couple (prize: washing machine).  Director is interested in how the mechanism of conformism works and why people under pressure turn not against their oppressors but against those who break the rules.

Healer clive Harris visits Poland and organizes haling seances in churches, attracting thousands who spontaneously self-organize into informal assistance committees, where people selflessly act and help others, a premonition of the forthcoming rise of the 'solidarity' movement, modeled on the 'workers' defense committee'.  Director is interested in the atmosphere of anticipation of the time, and also in helpful gestures of the people who assist the suffering in getting the act of healing.

Matriculation exam from social and political sciences in one of Warsaw's high schools, which consists of reciting the textbook-learned ideological formulas that are defunct both to students and teachers.  Outside the exam room the students will join others in laughing at their answers.   The film illustrates the theater of social life in PRL where one says different things on the stage and different behind the scenes.

The young radio broadcaster at the Pollena-Uroda cosmetics factory in Warsaw asks if the workers  feel they have a say in running the factory, as gets frank answers that they don't. The management is angered and tries to censor and propagandize him, and when not successful fires him.  At the same time Lozinski was expelled from film production company, but life added an interesting epilogue to the film because of the rise of Solidarity: the young broadcaster found a job at Polish Radio, quit the party and was interned during the martial law of 1981.  'The film has changed his life' - Lozinski says with satisfaction.

Lozinski's first documentary after martial law, made at the time when social apathy was at its highest level.  He is doing a street poll  asking randomly selected people what they think of contemporary youth.  The first part of the film shows the real footage where some people are hedging, while others speak out in despair; second part shows intentionally badly manipulated footage that changes its meaning, and third part the state of the art type of media distortion where inconvenient parts are edited out producing effect that nothing matters and everybody is just smiling.

The film's construction is very simple: it is the Polish eye-witnesses account of the dark moment in Polish history: Kielce Pogrom of 1946, where a polish mob, instigated by reports of a ritual murder, committed a premeditated murder  of 42 Jews, a holocaust survivors, with the militia and the army taking part.  Besides the story itself, the film constitutes a key thread of many Lozinski's documentaries: a study of of a crowd, the herd thinking and acting as well as different attitudes among some of the witnesses.

9.  89 MM OD EUROPY / 99 MM FROM EUROPE 1993/11'
The film is set at the Polish-Bielarussian border crossing in Brest where trains from western Europe stop to be placed on Russian tracks that are 89 mm wider.  A Moscow-bound train from Paris is coming, the carriages are lifted while the wheels are replaced - everyday activity there.  We know that the little boy in the story is the director's son who shares his life between Paris and Moscow.  When the film was shot in early 1990s the illusion arose that the world is integrating, that the lines between classes, nations, systems and people were breaking.  Meanwhile, no progress has been made since - the gauge of the of the east-bound tracks will always differ.

4/18/11 - Sol put a link (in comments) to an article about Lozinski's newest movie - looks very interesting, and it's partially about himself.  I like his movies, but find them a bit strange, so yes, would very much like to see it to understand his point of view better.  Here a fragment of the article, and an active link below (use google translator - link to Polish/English above, in the top bar):

Jest rok 1949. Wera, córka Toni, stoi ze swoim dziewięcioletnim braciszkiem Marcelem na progu domu dziecka, dokąd ich skierowano po aresztowaniu matki. Dzieci są same, czekają długo. W końcu ktoś otwiera drzwi, pyta: "Kto wy jesteście?". "My jesteśmy dzieci komunistów" - odpowiada rezolutnie Wera i podaje wychowawczyni teczkę swoich dokumentów. Tamta krzyczy: "Znowu nam tę żydokomunę przysyłają!". "Wtedy po raz pierwszy usłyszałam to słowo" - dodaje z uśmiechem Wera. Tak zaczyna się opowieść o Toni i jej dzieciach. 

Więcej... http://wyborcza.pl/1,75475,9451408,Ostatnie_slowo_Marcela_Lozinskiego.html#ixzz1JwJN3oAw

4/24/11 • At the last OKO we watched 'Zderzenie Czolowe / Front Collision' (1975), 'Egzamin Dojrzalosci / Matriculation' (1978), 'Proba Mikrofonu / Microphone's Test' (1980) and 'Cwiczenia Warsztatowe /Practice Excercises' (1984)...  

What can I say: I don't particularly get along with Lozinski's movies, but I cannot stop being interesting in them.  Or, in other words: I'm very much intrigued by the social questions he puts forward, but somehow not particularly happy about the way he goes after answers...  I feel teased: here -  a thing that always interested you -  how does propaganda work, or what happens when one doesn't follow society rules...  But the answers are like produced by an alien to my world...

Friday, March 4, 2011

NEXT FILM: Marcel Lozinski's documentaries • March 16th, Wednesday

7:30 PM - Marcel Lozinski documentaries (2006 z Polskiej Szkoly Dokumentu). 

The set of 2 CDs contains 14 documentaries from the recipient of many international awards, all looking interesting and covering years 1972-1998, so it was rather a hard choice, and this is what I decided to fill 70 minutes of next OKO meeting with:

1. Wizyta/The visit. 1974. 16' 
Analyzing the role of media in lives of people under the lenses: Urszula Flis is an attractive media object - she is running a country farm and is also a connoisseur of literature, an intellectual exchanging correspondence with writers. Filmmaker arranges a meeting with a journalist who visits the heroine with preconceived thesis that her country life makes no sense, but Urszula upsets the cart not fitting into this scenario.

2.)  Krol/The King. 1974.  7'
Film made by accident on the way back from filming 'The visit'.  With 5 minutes of the tape left, the film tells the story of the bartender, self-described perfect and proud conformist, who all his life served whoever was in power and now is the king of life in his own bar...  The film was banned for 'the king's' anti-Semitic comment, which Lozinski later removed, but since it not helped with censors, director resolved from that time on not to remove anything on censor's request.

3.)  Zeby nie bolalo/So it doesn't hurt.  1998. 47'
After 23 years Marcel Lozinski re-visits the heroine of 'The visit', Urszula Flis, who still lives in the country on her own.  In this version the filmmaker tries to touch another person's life so it doesn't hurt the subject of his camera. 

About Marcel Lozinski: Director of many awarded documentaries, born 1940 in Paris.
Prior to enrolling at the Łódź Film School in 1967, Łoziński graduated from Warsaw Polytechnic, Department of Communication, and worked for a few years as a sound engineer at the Warsaw Documentary Studio (WFD). He completed his direction studies in 1971, but it was not until 1976 that he obtained his degree, by which time he could boast some serious documentary filmmaking achievement. His pre-graduation project was "Zmiana [A Change]"and "Widziane z dołu [Seen from Underneath]", two parts of a TV film made together withPawel Kedzierski, and "Zderzenie czołowe [A Head-On Collision]" [aka "Front Collision"] was his graduation work. 
More here...

***EXTRA! EXTRA!   Bonus Lozinski film for Polish speaking readers - apology for it not being bilingual, but that's the only version I found on YouTube: 'How is it done' / 'Jak to sie robi - Jak stworzyc polityka' (2006) - Piotr Tymochowicz Public Relations advisor has decided to prove that anybody can be molded into a politician.  

The movie has 6 parts and if the consecutive parts don't show automatically here go to YouTube to watch the rest:

And here is a fragment of an interview with the director  (in Polish)) regarding the film, tiled ‘Let the politicians stew’:

Artur Cichmiński: Kto do kogo przyszedł z pomysłem zrobienia tego filmu? Piotr Tymochowicz do Pana, czy to Pan do niego?
Marcel Łoziński: Odbyło się to jeszcze inaczej. Przeczytałem reportaż pt. "Zakręcę was, jak słoiki na zimę" autorstwa Jacka Hugo-Badera, który sam poddał się takiemu szkoleniu. W tym właśnie reportażu Tymochowicz powiedział, że polityk to taki sam produkt, jak płyn do płukania. Z każdego można zrobić polityka i wręcz zaproponował Jackowi, że nawet z niego może zrobić prezydenta. Jacek powiedział mu wtedy: Nie, ja chwilowo dziękuję.
Jak to przeczytałem pomyślałem, że jest to fantastyczna rzecz. Już w 1991 roku, kiedy wziąłem udział w kampanii wyborczej Tadeusza Mazowieckiego, uważałem że byłoby fantastycznie gdyby udało się mi złapać początek kariery takiego człowieka jak Stan Tyminski, który potwornie narozrabiał na naszej scenie politycznej. Zobaczyć, jak coś takiego się robi? Skąd się to bierze i jak coś takiego może potem mieć ten szarlatański wpływ na ludzi? Kiedy więc przeczytałem Jacka reportaż, wiedziałem że to jest właśnie to. Tymochowicz będzie kreował kogoś takiego i może mu się to uda, a może nie, ale ja przynajmniej przyjrzę się temu procesowi. Poszedłem do niego, zapytałem czy naprawdę uważa, że jest to możliwe? Odpowiedział, że tak i że może mi to udowodnić. Jak? Zrobi casting, a potem wykreuje jednego, dwóch, trzech. Na pytanie czy można przyjść z kamerą i to zarejestrować usłyszałem, że oczywiście. I tak to poszło. Jemu było to bardzo na rękę, gdyż był to dla niego też jakiś rodzaj reklamy. Sam przecież podkreśla, że nie ważne czy się mówi o kimś dobrze, czy źle, ważne żeby się po prostu mówiło i nie przekręcało nazwiska. I dziś niewątpliwie ubocznym produktem tego filmu jest to, że jest to dla niego niewątpliwie reklama.
More here...

Posted 3/17, after OKO meeting:

• I was truly moved by 'Visit/So it doesn't hurt' combo  ('Wizyta/Zeby nie bolalo'), and so was everybody else at OKO, it seems  - Urszula Flis came through both of the documentaries, spanned by 23 years of filming, as really true no-nonsense real person we all could connect with, while the same could not be said about the film/journalist team that descended on her private life in the village where she farms.  We felt the urge to let Urszula know that we feel close to her and her values, while wanting to throw our shoes at TV screen every time the city folks were pontificating, telling her to strike a pose or answer their ever idiotic questions.  We plan to take a group pic of us next time we meet and mail it to Urszula, so she knows there are people out there who relate to her and who she is.

• 'The King' ('Krol') film was rather odd - watching 7 minutes of self-described life-long opportunist preening for the camera made me wonder if Lozinski liked his subject.  The fellow must be dead by now (film made in 1974) and all that is left of him is this documentary, as if he had no redeeming qualities to tell about.  Did he not?

• 'My place' ('Moje miejsce') - 1985 bonus film we watched had some great comic value and caused many laughs: Sopot's Grand Hotel employees telling how they see their world and work - self-aggrandizing statements from lavatory cleaners, cooks, maids and cloakroom attendants suddenly put in front of camera as 'stars'...  The clip was surely funny in a stupid way, but was it sympathetic to the working class people struggles of getting through life's slings and arrows? I thought not,  and wondered if Lozinski would sign under Somerset Maugham line: 'I''ve always been interested in people, but I've never liked them'...

One way or the other, we are not Lozinki-outed yet; so round 2 of his documentaries was agreed upon for April OKO meeting (4/20).  

Surprising and democratizing development also occurred at the last OKO's meeting: just as I was getting tired of my almost 1 year-long OKO dictatorship (with Rysiu K. as a shy shadow co-dictator )  and was pondering a way out (even if this means the end of OKO film club) the idea of sharing the fun of watching films together had its springtime: Krzysiu PK decided to run May meeting and Leszek Ch. signed up for June.  Hallelujah - OKO will go on for a while:)

Other Lozinski links:
- blog  Graciarnia (in Polish)
- Kultura Polska (in Polish)
- Amazon review (in English)
- Nisimazine. eu (in English)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From our new UW Fullbright scholar Tomasz Lysak:

Matka Joanna od Aniolow, dir. J. Kawalerowicz
He teaches Polish film classics in a close focus at UW. Students in Dr. Tomasz Łysak's course of Polish Culture and Society 1944-89 in Film at University of Washington discuss the films trying to move back in time to their release.

New episodes each week.

Somehow, I cannot upoload the youtube video, but link here, let me know, if the link works; will fix it, if needed:

Over at Radio  Wisla there is an interview (in Polish) with dr. Tomasz Lysak: