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Polish Film Festival in America 

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The 13th annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, continues Friday through Thursday, November 9 through 15. Screenings are at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and by video projection at the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $9; passes are also available for $40 (five screenings) and $80 (twelve screenings). For more information call 773-486-9612. Programs marked with a 4 are highly recommended.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9

Weiser

A man returns to his hometown after many years and must confront his memories of a mysterious childhood friend who vanished following an explosion. Wojciech Marczewski directed this 2000 feature, to be shown without subtitles. 94 min. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

Captain's Daughter

A Russian officer tries to crush Yemelyan Pugachev's revolt against Catherine the Great, though his lover is the daughter of a fortress commander in the uprising. Alexander Proszkin's 2000 historical romance will be shown in Russian with Polish subtitles, and actor Mateusz Damiecki will attend the screening. 130 min. (Copernicus Center, 9:00)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10

Station

The owner of a remote gas station faces a difficult decision after a limousine rolls in carrying a wounded man, a gun, and a bag of cash. Piotr Weresniak directed. 100 min. To be shown without subtitles. (Copernicus Center, 6:00)

Keep Away From the Window

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, a childless husband and wife in a small town shelter a Jewish woman (Dominika Ostalowska), and after the husband impregnates their guest in hiding, the wife claims the baby as her own. Visual stylist Jan Jakub Kolski (A Story of the Movies From the Village of Popielawy) directed this 2000 chamber drama, using the camera to create a sense of claustrophobia and delineate the spaces that keep the characters isolated from one another. The script, based on a story by Krzysztof Kieslowski collaborator Hanna Kral, focuses on the wife's delusions and the subtle power play between the two rivals, but it fails to present the psychological issues with any clarity or insight; at the end, when the grown daughter repeats both her mothers' mistakes, Kolski can't get much out of the development besides ironic closure. 104 min. (TS) (Copernicus Center, 8:00)

Back and Forth

A doctor in communist Poland learns that one of his patients plans to rob a bank and defect to the West in this feature by Wojciech Wojcik. 96 min. To be shown without subtitles. (Copernicus Center, 9:50)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11

Keep Away From the Window

See listing for Saturday, November 10. (Copernicus Center, 4:00)

Shot in the Heart

Giovanni Ribisi stars as Mikal Gilmore, whose brother Gary Gilmore was convicted of murder in the late 70s and asked to be executed by firing squad. Agnieszka Holland (Washington Square, Europa Europa) directed this HBO movie; with Elias Koteas, Amy Madigan, and Eric Bogosian. 98 min. (Copernicus Center, 6:00)

4 The Spring to Come

Adapted from a novel by Stefan Zeromski, this has all the strengths and weaknesses of a historical picaresque: colorful characters, interesting locales, and glimpses into historical events, all set in a sprawling and aimless plot. After Azerbaijan is invaded by the Bolsheviks, a callow young man from a prosperous family (Mateusz Damiecki) sets out to find his father, traveling from Baku to Moscow to the Polish countryside, where he joins a group of student revolutionaries. Writer-director Filip Bajon manages to stay focused amid the sweeping, Tolstoyan story, evoking with a few specific shots the look and feel of an Azerbaijani oil field, a Polish country estate, a packed railcar traveling through eastern Europe, and other exotic settings. 140 min. (Jack Helbig) Bajon and Damiecki will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 8:00)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12

4 Schizophrenia

For decades the Soviet Union used psychiatry as an instrument of political repression; the diagnosis "sluggish schizophrenia" was invented for people who suffered from "the mania of abolishing the Soviet state" or who were "infatuated with anti-Sovietism." In this 58-minute documentary Vita Zelakeviciute interviews dissidents who wound up in hospital-prisons, where they were regularly beaten and raped, as well as the psychiatrists who put them there. In the early 80s a young psychiatrist formed an investigative commission and found that almost 90 percent of those diagnosed were healthy, but the commission members were promptly jailed and the psychiatrist drew 12 years in prison and exile for publishing his findings. On the same program, Igor Malodecki's documentary Forbidden Love (20 min.) concerns a Polish couple in a home for the mentally disabled who were forbidden to marry; granted a mock wedding, they surprised the residence's administrators by asserting their humanity, demanding a room together, and removing one of the beds. (FC) (Society for Arts, 7:00)

The Net

An hour-long episode from the TV series Big Deals, this 2000 film by Krzysztof Krauze spoofs Poland's emerging yuppies: a woman buys a cell phone packed with expensive options as a birthday gift for her husband, and the husband mistakenly believes that she's bought it to carry on an affair with the phone salesman. His jealousy exposes the pressure points of their modern marriage (conformity, consumerism, and competitiveness), which may seem fresh to Polish viewers but will be dreadfully familiar to Americans. Krauze's satire is heavy-handed, and the comedy's occasional sharp edges are negated by a pat ending. (TS) On the same program, Maciej Pieprzyca's Inferno (59 min.), a TV drama about three young women whose plans for the future go awry the night of their prom. (Society for Arts, 9:00)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13

Documentary videos, program two

Three videos made for Polish television. For Document . . . ? (32 min.), director Malgorzata Szumowska asked friends to make a testament for the camera and found that its presence produced unexpected results. Magda Piekorz's Labyrinth (29 min.) looks at dramatic therapy for people with emotional problems. And To Find, to See, to Bury (26 min.), also by Piekorz, documents the exhumation of the dead in Srebrenica. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Happy Man

Beautiful but relentlessly bleak, this 2000 feature by writer-director Malgorzata Szumowska follows an angst-ridden 30-year-old, unemployed and still living at home, as his mother's lung cancer forces him to confront his aimless, loveless existence. Szumowska tells her Beckettian story with disarming simplicity, and Piotr Jankowski plays with an off-the-cuff naturalism the protagonist's flashes of narcissistic anger, his frantic search for a girlfriend, and his awkward, halfhearted attempts to comfort his mother. Working with minimal available light, cinematographers Marek Gajczak and Michal Englert create a series of shadowy scenes, and Jacek Drosio's editing enhances the film's jagged documentary feel. 84 min. (Jack Helbig) (Society for Arts, 9:00)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14

Let's Die Together

A TV documentary (2000, 55 min.) profiling Polish painter Jerzy Tchorzewski, directed by his son Krzysztof. On the same program, Marek Kilaszewski and Jacek Knopp's 20-minute documentary Life on the Edge of Creation, about disabled painter Stanislaw Kmiecik. Both videos to be shown without subtitles. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Zbig

Natalia Koryncka-Gruz directed this profile (2000, 55 min.) of video animator Zbigniew Rybczynski. On the same program, Konrad Szolajski's Art of Love According to Wislocka (29 min.), about sex therapist and author Michalina Wislocka. Both videos to be shown without subtitles. (Society for Arts, 9:00)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15

Mother of the Unknown Soldier

Russian women search for their sons in Chechnya in this TV documentary (2000, 54 min.) by Mariusz Malec. On the same program, The Last Shots (2000, 46 min.), about filmmaker Andrzej Munk, who died in 1961 during an accident on location. Both videos to be shown without subtitles. (Society for Arts, 8:00)

Mother of Unknown Soldier

See listing for Thursday, November 15. (Society for Arts, 9:00)

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