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Polish Film Festival provides insights from abroad

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The University of Rochester Skalny Center is back with this year’s Polish Film Festival November 5-10 in Rochester.

“The Polish Dancer” will be featured on Opening Night, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. at The Dryden Theatre. The remaining film will be shown on November 6-10 at The Little Theatre.

Randall Stone, Director of the Skalny Center for Polish and European Studies, discussed the films and their impact Monday during News 8 at Noon.

“It’s a really special lineup of events this year,” Stone said. “Tomorrow is a film that was kind of lost and found. Pola Negri is well known for her silent films made in the United States, but she was a leading Polish silent film actress. And all of those films were lost, except for this one. ‘The Polish Dancer,’ which in Polish is called ‘Bestia,’ the beast. So she made this film in Poland and then it was bootlegged. It was brought to the United States, produced under a different title, and put out as if it were made in America. And that’s why it survived. There was a copy lying around in an archive. It was found and it’s been cleaned up. It has a really special feature. Silent films typically were done with live music, and this one has music in the score that was written and composed and performed by Wlodek Pawlik. He will be performing that music live tomorrow night.”

All of the films will have English subtitles. “What you’ll see is the cream of the crop of Polish contemporary film,” said Stone. “It’s a very creative film industry. They’re quite different from what you see in Hollywood films – I think much more interesting in many ways. So one of them is ‘Corpus Christi,’ which is the Polish nominee this year for the Oscar. The last couple of times we’ve shown one of these nominees, it’s actually won an Oscar. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Stone said this collection of films offers the community an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. “I think it’s always special to see foreign films because they are a window on a different reality. People shouldn’t be afraid of the subtitles. It’s really very special. The Polish government is taking a turn to the right and is not as Democratic as it used to be. We’re hoping that will bounce back. But the Polish film industry is still quite independent and quite critical.”

For more information about the films and when they’ll be shown visit the Skalny Center webpage dedicated to the Polish Film Festival.

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