Vladek Juszkiewicz talks about Polish Film Festival, LA

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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. The 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 2008 festival.

Cinema Without Borders: We are close to another year of the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles. Polish cinema is making a comeback to its golden years. Will the Polish Film Festival be a good reflection of Polish cinema in 2007 and 2008?

Vladek Juszkiewicz: Undoubtedly yes. Movies which will be screened at the 9th Festival represent the highest values in many respects. The subject matter is more universal. Cinematography and acting are superb. One should also keep in mind the excellent music, set design, and costumes. Our American jurors speak very well of the movies which they watch for the Hollywood Eagle Award. This year it will be bestowed on Tomorrow We’re Going to the Movies by Michal Kwiecinski and produced by Polish TV.

CWB: Do you have any U.S. premieres of new Polish films this year during the festival?
Vladek: We have a few premieres, including world ones, of Tomorrow We’re Going to the Movies by Michal Kwiecinski, Forgiveness by Mariusz Kotowski and Doctor Halina by Marcin Wrona. American premieres include Absolute Beginner by Piotr Szczepanski and Expecting Love by Lukasz Karwowski.

CWB: Please tell us about your audience. Is the younger generation of Polish Americans attending the festival?
Vladek: From year to year interest in Polish film is growing among the new generation of Polish Americans who are bringing their American friends to the cinema. From year to year they realize that Polish cinema can be attractive for an American audience.

CWB: Who are the Polish guests of the Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles 2008? Is there a chance for the public to meet them?
Vladek: A large group of actors, directors and other filmmakers is coming from Poland and they will be available for post-screening gatherings with the audience. We are expecting the arrival of Danuta Szaflarska, the Nestor of the Polish stage and silver screen, whose genial performance in Time to Die deserves an Oscar. Moreover, we will host Danuta Stenka, known to our audience from Chopin. Desire to Love and Never Again, Agnieszka Grochowska from South-North, Artur Zmijewski from The Last Mission, Krzysztof Pieczynski from the Pianist, Edges Of The Lord and Temptation, Tomasz Kot from Destined For The Blues. Among our directors we will host our returning guest Jacek Bromski (The Lovers Of The Year Of The Tiger), Dorota Kedzierzawska (I Am), Lukasz Karwowski (South-North), Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramonowicz (Body). Young directors include Piotr Szczepanski and Lukasz Palkowski. Also, we are hosting the outstanding cinematographer Witold Sobocinski who in 2003 received the International Achievement Award of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

CWB: What are some different events being held at the festival?
Vladek: Our festival is expanding and needs new partners in Los Angeles. In collaboration with the American Cinematheque we will present a series of documentaries highlighting Eagle Pharmacy by Krzysztof Miklaszewski, which will receive the Hollywood Eagle Documentary Award. Among documentaries shot by Polish filmmakers, there will be, besides Polish subject matter, also themes from Russia, Georgia, Byelorussia as well as Israel. For the first time we will present TV theatre in collaboration with the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television.
This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Polish animation. We will present a block of 11 movies headed by Ark by Grzegorz Jonkajtys, who will receive the Hollywood Eagle Animation Award. We have also organized a three-day presentation of Polish films in Orange County, to acquaint that audience with Polish cinema.

CWB: How can film fans attend the festival screenings?
Vladek: Come to the cinema where the movies will be screened! Main presentations are at Laemmle Sunset5 and tickets can be purchased in the box office or on their website (www.laemmle.com). At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, where we are going to present documentaries, tickets can be obtained at the box office or on their website (www.americancinema.com). Admission is free to screenings at the James Bridges Theatre at UCLA, where we are presenting TV theatre. To shows in Orange County at Regency South Coast Village Theatre tickets can be bought at the box office or on the website (www.regencymovies,com).

CWB: Are U.S. film distributors interacting with Polish Film Festival Los Angeles? Does the festival help the Polish films with finding a distribution channel in U.S.?
Veladek: There is interest in Polish films and we are trying to make our festival a stepping-stone to find such distribution.

CWB: Are there any award-winning films that will be screened at Polish Film Festival 2008?
Vladek: Such films are Time to Die, which received several awards at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia and at the Trieste IFF; Death of a President awarded the Silver Berlin Bear for Outstanding Single Achievement for Jerzy Kawalerowicz at the Berlin IFF 1978; Polish Film Festival Gdansk 1977: Special Jury Prize for Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Best Sound for Jerzy Blaszynski; 1st Prize at the Cadiz IFF; the Press Award at the Gandave IFF; the Critics Award at the Cordoba IFF; Savior’s Square which garnered many awards in Poland and at 2007 Sozhou (China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival); Valladolid (MFF) “Srebrny KÅ‚os” (Silver Spike); Jowita Budnik Valladolid (MFF) award for the best female part; Trieste (MFF) Main Award. Katyn, this year’s Polish nomination to the Oscars; Preserve awarded at the Gdynia Film Festival; Nothing awarded at Brussels IFF 1999 – Crystal Star Award Best Actress for Anita Kuskowska-Borkowska, Denver IFF 1999 – Best European Film Award, International Film Music Biennial Bonn 1999 – International Prize for Film and Media Music 2nd Place for Michal Lorenc; Polish Film Festival Gdynia 1998 – Best Cinematography Award for Arthur Reinhart; Best Costume Design Award for Magdalena Biedrzycka; Critics Award and Special Jury Award for Dorota Kedzierzawska, Sochi IFF 1999 – FIPRESCI Prize and Special Jury Award for Dorota Kedzierzawska.

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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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