Vladek Juszkiewicz talks about the Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles

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The Polish American Film Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a higher level of understanding of Polish culture through film. This organization showcases outstanding achievements of Polish cinema right in the heart of Hollywood.
Each year, the Polish Film Festival of Los Angeles screens the finest selection of contemporary Polish cinema including full-length features, documentaries, animations, and shorts. Polish Film Festival provides an exciting venue for Polish filmmakers and actors to share their talents with an American audience.  In an interview with Cinema Without Borders, Vladek Juszkiewicz, Director of the Polish Film Festival of Los Angeles talked about the festival 2007.

Cinema Without Borders: Please tell us about your background and how you started “Polish Film Festival”?
Vladek Juszkiewicz: I’m the founder and Festival director. I have worked within film production companies in Los Angeles since 1984 with Paul Leder, and began the Polish Film Festival in 1999 when I saw that there is a need for introducing Polish film to English-speaking audience and promotion of Polish films in Hollywood

CWB: Are only movies from Poland participate in the Polish Film Festival”?
Vladek: Although most of the films featured in the festival are from Poland, the festival welcomes any films that promote Polish culture, or involve Polish actors and filmmakers. We had films from Russia, Germany, France, Hungary, Switzerland, USA. This year we have films from USA, Italy
and Polish-Chinese cooproduction.

CWB: How many movies are sent each year for the festival and how do you select the movies for the festival screening?
Vladek: The films are selected by me and the Board of Directors, but we also accept individual entrys. The festival also hosts several World premieres and West Coast premieres of contemporary Polish cinema.

CWB: Please tell us about your experience with “Polish Film Festival” in 2006, movies screened and guests that attended the festival. Were there any awards given?
Vladek: In main program we screened 25 features film, 8 documentaries and 6 shorts film.There were two world premiers.We had 16 guests from Poland, Among others: Piotr Adamczyk, Andrzej Chyra, Magda Cielecka, Mateusz Damiecki, Feliks Falk, Dominik & Piotr Matwiejczyk, Gabriela Muskala, Ryszard Bugajski and Greg Zglinski. WE had six students- cinematographers from Lodz Film School, who have had chance to meet with students from film schools in LA and members of American Society of Cinematographers.
In collaborations with the LACMA, Los Angeles FilmForum we celebrated “Krystof Kieslowski Year” with special screenings of the director’s short films, documentaries, and feature films. Longtime friend and collaborator Jerzy Stuhr was a guest of the festival, and was on hand for several Q & A sessions.
The following awards were given in 2006: the Amicus Poloniae, awarded by the Polish Ambassador to USA, was presented to H.B. Barnum for his support of Polish Community and collaborations with Polish singers Maryla Rodowicz; the Hollywood Eagle Award for Best Film of the Festival went to “My Nikifor” by Krzystof Krauze; and an award from Kodak was given to the Best Student Etude. A jury of Industry professionals (Agnieszka Holland, Laszlo Kovacs, Peter Mark Richman, Joe Rose and Morgan Woodward)selects the winning films. 

CWB: What are the plans for “Polish Film Festival” 2007?
Vladek: This year we are pleased to announce that the festival will be held under the auspices of Poland’s First Lady, Maria Kacyznska who will be present. The festival will open with a presentation of the Amicus Poloniae to David Lynch, followed by a screening of his latest feature film INLAND EMPIRE.
Our program will include nearly (36) films including full-length features, documentaries, shorts, animations and student works.
We will welcome (30) guests from Poland including actors, filmmakers, and film students who will be available for
Q & A after the screenings, among others:actors Piotr Adamczyk, , Agnieszka Grochowska, Karolina Gruszka,Edyta Jungowska, Kinga Preis, Anna Romantowska, Borys Szyc and directors Jacek Bromski, Marek Koterski

CWB: Does “Polish Film Festival” has any sponsors and supporters?
Vladek: The Polish Film Festival has the kind and generous support from the following organizations: The Polish Film Institute, Association Polish Filmmakers, Polish Television TVP, The Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles, POLAM (Polish American Credit Union) Kodak; Sharp and individual sponsors.

CWB: What movies we should look for in “Polish Film Festival” 2007?
Vladek: Highlights include: David Lynch’s latest film INLAND EMPIRE which will be presented during Gala Opening at the DGA; Agnieska Holland’s latest film “A Girl Like Me”; the West Coast premiere of “Karol. The Pope, the Man” (dir. Giacomo Battiato) starring Piotr Adamczyk; World premiere of A “Reverend Father Tischner and His Highlanders’ Philosophy” by Artut Wiecek “Baron” ,
Polish – Chinese coo production “The Lovers of the Year of the Tiger” (Jacek Bromski) and films in the competition: “I Am” by Dorota Kedzierzawska, “Palimpsest” by Konrad Niewolski , “Retrival” by Slawomir Fabicki, “We’re All Christs” by Marek Koterski, “What Sun Has Seen” by Michal Rosa and “Who Never Lieved…” by Andrzej Seweryn.

CWB: What are your future plans for “Polish Film Festival”?
Vladek: Each year our audience grows, and we hope that the interest in Polish cinema continues to grow as well so that Polish films will be screened and distributed beyond the Polish-speaking community.

For more information please check http://www.polishfilmla.org/

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Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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