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Looking back at 2014 Polish Film Festival Los Angeles

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To review the finding out about the success of 2014 Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles we had an interview with Vladek Juszkiewicz, director of the festival.

Bijan Tehrani: Looking back at the 2014 Los Angeles Polish Film Festival, how happy are you with the outcome?
Vladek Juszkiewicz: As the organizer of the Festival, I will never be fully satisfied with the outcome. Attendance was very good, but I would like it to be better.  People like the program, but there were some films missing.  For example, I could not get this year films about the Warsaw Uprising which happened 70 years ago. We had very nice guests from Poland, but I would like to have more; they are the magnets for the audience. I could go on and on.

BT: Why are you announcing the award at the opening night ceremony, have you considered a closing night ceremony?
VJ: Almost each festival announces the award at the closing ceremony. I would like to be different, besides it would be difficult to bring all our guests from Hollywood twice. Our jurors watch the films on screeners before the Festival and pick out the winners; why wait to the end to announce? During the opening they talk about the films and encourage people to come and see those films. After the Festival it is too late to do that.

BT: Tell us about your venues and if your audience is getting used to them and show up for the screenings.
VJ: At the beginning, we used Laemmle’s Music Hall, then Laemmle’s Santa Monica. When we moved to Laemmle’s Sunset 5 we were kind of in the middle of the town. Now we cover both sides, Laemmle’s Royal West side, Laemmle’s NoHo 7 East side.  With the traffic getting worse and worse we have to come closer to the audience to make it easier from them to come and see the films. It is more work for us to synchronize the films and the guests, but we care for our filmgoers and they like both venues. We need more volunteers, and they like too both places, because they can choose which one is more convenience for them.

BT: Every year I ask the same question as it is a big deal to run a Festival for 10 days. How do you manage to do this?
VJ: It is not easy to run a Festival in Los Angeles, but when you commit yourself to do this it has to be done right. If you want to present a full spectrum representing achievements of Polish cinema you have to have enough time to do this. Taking under consideration two screenings on a weekday and 4 or 5 screenings during the weekend you have to have more than a week to accomplish this.

BT: It was a surprise to me that you have to pay a fee in order to show the Polish films in your Festival, why is that?
VJ: You have to pose this question to producers and distributors. They found an easy way to make few bucks without any work. To promote a film it requires a lot of work, time, money and advertisement.  We do all the work for them. It seems   that we care more for promoting their films than they do.

BT: The opening ceremony at the Egyptian Theatre is now part of the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles tradition, how far does it help with the success of the Festival?
VJ: The Gala Opening is our only fundraiser.   Egyptian Theater fits very well for this purpose. There is space for red carpet, reception and screening.  This year because of the celebration of our 15 years we presented our new award “Friend of Festival Award” which was presented to our loyal supporters: POLAM Federal Credit Union, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and individuals: Zbyszek Banas, Lukasz Bedkowski, Jacek Bromski,  Yola Czaderska-Hayek,   Andrzej Dobrzynski,  Helena & Stanley Kolodziej, Pascal Ladreyt, Greg Laemmle, Robert Wierzbicki and posthumously Elizabeth Smagala-Tate.
The President of Poland awarded the Gold Cross of Merit to Andrzej Dobrzynski, Marek Dzida, Elizabeth Kanski and Maciek Kolodziejczak. Traditionally we presented awards for best feature, short, documentary, animation, and the Pola Negri and the Piotr Lazarkiewicz Awards.
The opening ceremony is like lighting the Olympic torch; after that let the games begin.

BT: Please tell us about the sponsors of your Festival.
VJ: The success of our Festival depends on our sponsors. Without them the Festival would not be possible. Our main sponsors come from Poland: The Polish Film Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Locally we are supported by POLAM Federal Credit Union, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Andrzej Dobrzynski, ELMA and Cameras by Otto Nemenz. This year we have two new sponsors XL Energy Drink and Shakespeare Vodka.

BT: How was the reflection of the 2014 Festival in media here in the US and also in Poland?
VJ: I do not know how it was in Poland. Here we had articles in Los Angeles Times, Santa Monica Daily Press and News of Polonia. On the internet our main source is Cinema Without Borders, where we had interviews with actors and directors and day-by-day program information. Additionally Festival In LA, Los Angeles Informer and The Immigrant Magazine wrote about us. Of course our Facebook site was informing on a daily basis what was going on in regard to the Festival and Polish cinema.
www.polishfilmla.org

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