To herald the vibrant Polish film industry, the University of Pittsburgh Department of Slavic Languages and the Center for Russian and East European Studies present "Through Polish Eyes 2005," a film festival spotlighting contemporary Polish cinema, that kicks off this Sun., Feb. 13, and continues over the next two weekends.
Jan Jakub Kolski's 2003 drama Pornography opens the series at Pitt's Alumni Hall. Based on Witold Gombrowicz's novel of the same name set during the World War II, it relates the consequences when two urban intellectuals, visiting the country, decide for their own amusement to orchestrate relationships between some of the rural folk.
While Polish film has long enjoyed a good reputation among cineastes for being intellectually stimulating and aesthetically valuable, Lisa DiBartolomeo, an adjunct professor at Pitt and the festival director, says viewers might be surprised by the festival's offerings. "For people who are familiar with pre-1989 Polish films, these new films will be pretty different," she explains. "What unified those earlier films was the overwhelming presence of politics and the ideological bent of most of the films. Now that Poland has fairly successfully moved to a market economy and with its integration into the European Union, NATO and other world organizations, we find that more universal themes are coming out in Polish cinema."
Indeed, festival screenings span several genres. Scheduled films include Jerzy Stuhr's comedy-drama The Weather for Tomorrow (Feb. 18); the self-referential film-industry comedy Superproduction (Feb.19); The Revenge, an historical drama featuring Roman Polanski (Feb. 20); the absurd comedy The Body (Feb. 25); Keep Away From the Window, a domestic drama set during the Nazi occupation (Feb. 26); and Sour Soup, a family melodrama (Feb. 27).
The festival will also give Pittsburghers a chance to meet two of Poland's young actors, Rafal Krolikowski and Agata Buzek, at two receptions, following Superproduction and The Revenge, respectively. Additionally there will be opening- and closing-night receptions, replete with Polish food.
DiBartolomeo also stresses that "the films that we are seeing now are less identifiably Polish. They don't look as different and they don't have the same sort of depressive melancholy and oppressive feeling as older films did. Since politics isn't so much a concern these days, the kind of everyday life that is being portrayed on the screen is more identifiable for a broader range of people. Any of these films could hold their own against a Hollywood production."