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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Next film: 'OSKAR' BY MAREK PIWOWSKI, 2005 • May 18th

Oscar is film about the last days of a terminally ill child.

Oskar is ten when he meets Niebieska, who is seven years old. They immediately go to bed together, but are afraid to kiss each other in order “not to get pregnant.” They are terminally ill with cancer and are patients in the children’s ward at the hospital. Oskar and Niebieska have no idea how much time they have left. Roza, a hospital volunteer, is their matchmaker. She came out of nowhere and gives sick children hope. Like a prophet, she invents a religion and creates a vision of God for them. But Oskar does not trust God anymore. He has watched a lot of science fiction films where he saw one animal kill another to survive. The one that is hurt suffers before it dies. The God who invented suffering is hard to understand for Oskar.

Roza’s God gives children the promise to fulfill their every wish, on condition, that the wishes are only of the spiritual matter and the children can have only one wish a day. A miracle occurs: Oskar’s wishes start coming true...

Marek Piwowski is a director, journalist and screenwriter. He made seven documentaries, three feature films and five TV theater plays. He studied navigation at the Moscow Marine School, journalism at the University of Wroclaw, and film directing at the Lodz Film School. Piwowski has been a miner, farm laborer, journalist at the “Nowa Kultura” Magazine, and a lecturer at the New York University in New York, NY. He has acted in films made by such directors as Skolimowski, Zanussi, Morgenstern, Zygadlo, and even his own films. He is a member of the American Film Institute.
Marek Piwowski in 2010 (In Polish).

I cannot find a trailer for 'Oskar' anywhere, but here is part of a lecture Marek Piwowski delivered at the Akademia Sztuk Przepieknych, Przystanek Woodstock in 2010.  It's in Polish, it took part in Poland...

And here is Piwowski's 1966 documentary 'Kirk Douglas' (KD visiting film school in Poland); Kirk DOES speak English :)


5/22:  The last OKO meeting was hosted by Krzysiu P-K, who treated us to film 'Oskar', as well as to the great poster from Gdynia premiere of the film in 2005. 

Krzysiu has this rare film available in his private collections, and willing to share with those who missed it - please, either leave a comment or email if you are interested to see it.  The film has English subtitles and employs quite good translation  (not always the case - I pay attention to such details, kind of professional aberration on my part).  THANK YOU, KRZYSIU!

The description of the movie 'Oskar' which I pasted (from the internet) above, is the most stupid one could write on the topic - yet that was the only description I found -  not a nice tribute to what advertisers think our minds would take to get interested in seeing the film.  

The last 10 days of the boy who has leukemia are indeed  the sad subject matter, but  story is about hope and acceptance, full of humor and wit and lacking Hollywood-like syrupy sentimentality.  It's a story about an intelligent boy who understands that his medical treatment was not successful, that he will die  and now he has to do deal with his confusion all alone, because all the adults around him - doctors, nurses and parents are simply not prepared or able to help him process what is happening. 

Until he meets Roza - a hospital volunteer who not only levels with Oskar about facts of life and death, but also helps him to realize what it is to live life and find love, however short that life is.  With her guidance Oskar begins uplifting journey through days made fuller by his imagination and spirit of graciousness and acceptance.  The Oskar and Roza dialogs are real pearls - where they basically discuss the meaning of life in very simple, (but not simplistic) terms, leaving an audience with clear understanding that there is more to their words than meets the eye (or ear)...

I had a small problem with the concept of Roza introducing the idea of God to Oskar, and encouraging him to write letters to God as a way of coping with his pain and sadness.  Well, I still have a small problem with the concept - Roza's God was benevolent, spiritual and understanding; her experiment obviously worked for the boy and he died knowing how wonderful it was to have been alive.  But I would dread for well meaning viewers to emulate the idea and hoist religion on dying children - when not done as skillfully as Roza, or with a bit meaner type of God in question, one could easily only add burden to an already painful existence.

The film is based on 2002 novella by french writer Eric-Emanuel Schmitt who - in his childhood - spent many hours in hospitals for children with terminal illness while accompanying his father who was a medical professional working there:  probably that very experience allowed him to write about the subject with so much credibility and without soapy sentimentality.  I read that his short, 80-pages book is very well written (dialogs seem to be taken directly from it), so I intend to read it.  

In 2009, 4 years after Piwowski's TV movie, Eric-Emanuel Schmitt directed a film based on his own novella (with Max Von Sydow as dr. Dusseldorf) - that would be interesting to see, too.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Polish film items from the British 'Guardian'

1.) A short history of Polish cinema - blog post by Andrew Pulver with 24 video clips
2.)  Artists of Gdansk: the shipyard that brought down communism -  10 minutes video by Marcel Theroux

And here is your reward for checking-in: