Some of the best of recent Polish cinema can be seen this weekend as part of the ninth annual Polish Film Festival, presented by the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College. All films are in Polish with English subtitles and will be shown at the Montante Cultural Center, 2001 Main Street, or the ICEA Screening Room at the Tri-Main Building (Suite 530), 2495 Main Street.
The series opens Thursday evening with Fotograf (The Photographer), a thriller about Russian police tracking a serial killer who has fled to Poland in search of the sister his mother put up for adoption at birth. Like most movies involving serial killers, this crowd-pleaser is borderline ridiculous (the killer developed an ability during childhood to perfectly mimic the voices of other people), but played with energy that overrides the implausibility. The overstuffed plot and damaged heroine put me in mind of the recent wave of “Nordic Noir” TV series like The Killing and The Bridge. (You may be more familiar with their American adaptations.) Thu 7pm, Montante Cultural Center.
For his performance in Bogowie (Gods), Tomasz Kot (who also has a supporting part in Fotograf) was named Best Actor at last year’s Polish Film Awards. He stars as Zbigniew Religa, the first Polish surgeon to perform a heart transplant in 1985, after years of fighting the Communist bureaucracy to set up a cardiac clinic. The film is less an inspirational biopic than a dry comedy with Kot a most unlikely hero—tall, stooped, given to chain smoking and excessive drinking. Sun 3:30pm, ICEA Screening Room.
Agata Kulesza of the Oscar winner Ida stars in Moje Córki Krowy (These Daughters of Mine), a comedy-drama about two sisters who have to iron out their substantial differences when they are confronted with the impending deaths of their parents. The screening will be presented by the director Kinga Debska and producer Zbigniew Domagalski. Sat 6:30pm, Montante Cultural Center.
The Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival and the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo co-sponsors the moving documentary Dotkniecie Aniola (The Touch of an Angel), in which elderly Henryk Schoenker recounts his family’s experience as Jews living in the Silesian city of Oswiecim, which the occupying Nazis renamed Auschwitz. According to his story, his father was a respected elder enlisted to gather Polish Jews in Oswiecim for deportation, a plan that failed because no countries would take them. Sun 2pm, ICEA Screening Room.
Friday’s presentation is a restored print of the 1929 silent film Mocny Czlowiek (Strong Man). Adapted from the novel by Stanislaw Przybyszewski, the film stars Gregori Chmara as a second-rate journalist obsessed with becoming famous. He seems on his way after he encourages a friend to commit suicide so that he can pass off his unpublished novel as his own, but his immoral ways eventually catch up with him. Director Henryk Szaro demonstrated the influence of both Russian cinema in his montage and German cinema with his expressionistic sets. The film will be shown with live music performed by composer Marcin Pukaluk. The animated short Greed will also be shown. Fri 7pm, Montante Cultural Center.