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Polish Film Festival in America 

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The 14th annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, continues Saturday and Sunday, November 30 and December 1. Tickets are $9 for screenings at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and $7 for screenings at the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. For more information call 773-486-9612.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30

Journey for One Smile

Henryk Golebiewski, who will attend the screening, stars in this 1972 feature about two teenagers hitchhiking to the seaside one summer. Stanislaw Jedryka directed; with Filip Lobozinski. In Polish with subtitles. 93 min. (Copernicus Center, 2:00)

Eden

Artist and illustrator Andrzej Czeczot, a native of Krakow who has lived in New York since the early 80s, spent six years working on this animated fantasy about a shepherd who journeys through space and time, encountering everyone from Neptune, Hercules, and Prometheus to Napoleon, Columbus, Isadora Duncan, Charlie Parker, Salvador Dali, and the Beatles. In Polish with subtitles. 85 min. (Copernicus Center, 4:00)

No Mercy

Three policemen and a prosecutor, friends since they were teenagers, try to convict a mob boss who ordered the chief of police killed. Wojciech Wojcik directed this unsubtitled feature. 100 min. (Copernicus Center, 6:00)

Soccer Evening

Three soccer documentaries: Tomasz Smokowski's Korea 2002 in a Frame follows the Polish team to the World Cup in Korea and Japan. Janusz Zaorski's White-Red-Black: Olisadebe profiles Emmanuel Olisadebe, the Nigerian phenomenon whose instantaneously granted Polish citizenship was a source of controversy. And Mikolaj Malinowski's unsubtitled Black Eagles examines the integration of African players into Polish teams. 108 min. (Society for Arts, 8:30)

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1

The Singing City

The festival's tribute to Jan Kiepura, a tenor with the Warsaw State Opera who enjoyed some success in European movie musicals, concludes with this 1930 German feature by Carmine Gallone.

In German with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 1:00)

Chopin: Desire for Love

Bankrolled in part by Polish television and PKO Bank Polski, this high-toned biopic labors to present Frederic Chopin as a national hero, even though he abandoned his homeland at age 20 and never returned, except in his mazurkas and polonaises. Writer-director Jerzy Antczak dutifully begins with young Frederic (Piotr Adamczyk) fleeing Russian-occupied Warsaw for the salons of Paris, but the real story begins when he's wooed and won by the mannish George Sand, whose many affairs have made her an object of scandal. Played with intelligence and passion by Danuta Stenka, the strong-willed novelist struggles to balance the needs of her frail and temperamental lover against those of her high-spirited daughter, who worships Chopin for his genius, and her oedipally challenged son, who hates him for it. Unfortunately the recipient of all this emotion comes off as little more than a high-strung pretty boy, a portrait that's continually belied by the complex sonorities of the works on the sound track. 123 min. (JJ) (Copernicus Center, 3:00)

4 Works by Pawel Pawlikowski

Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort), who directed these four English TV documentaries, apparently specializes in Russian subjects, and he's clearly a filmmaker to watch. From Moscow to Pietushki (1990, 45 min.), a portrait of writer Venedikt Yerofeyev, samples his work (especially the eponymous novel) in voice-over by Bernard Hill and shows how and why Yerefeyev became the patron saint of Russian alcoholics during the end of the Khrushchev era. A survivor of throat cancer, Yerefeyev needs mechanical assistance to speak, but his dry gallows humor survives intact. The hilarious Dostoevsky's Travels (1991, 45 min.) trails the novelist's great-grandson Dmitri, a tram driver from Saint Petersburg, as he travels around Germany hoping to find a Mercedes he can afford. He can't speak or understand much German, and the people he encounters, though mostly friendly, seem as clueless about his ancestor as he is. (Explains one speaker at a meeting of the Dostoyevsky Society, "Most people here are only familiar with Dostoyevsky through the film Anna Karenina.") Tripping With Zhirinovsky (1995, 40 min.) follows Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the self-absorbed leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, as he flies to New York trumpeting his xenophobic slogans and positions; I haven't seen Serbian Epics (1992, 50 min.), about Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, but I assume it chronicles the same sort of buffoonery. (JR) All the films are subtitled. 180 min. (Society for Arts, 4:00)

An Angel in Krakow

The sound on the preview tape was so defective that I gave up watching, but I caught enough of the striking visuals and wacky humor (both somewhat Felliniesque) to regret the loss. The goofy plot concerns an angel named Giordano (Krzysztof Globisz) who loves rock so much and spends so much time in purgatory with singers like Elvis that he gets banished to earth with instructions to perform one kind deed per day. In Krakow, where he remains in phone contact with the folks upstairs, he meets a single mother and street sausage vendor (Ewa Kaim). Artur Wiecek "Baron" directed and cowrote this feature, in Polish with subtitles. 89 min. (JR) (Copernicus Center, 6:00)

The Betrayed

This gruesome 1995 report from Chechnya, shot by British documentarian Clive Gordon (Children of Chernobyl) and Polish cinematographer Jacek Petrycki, begins with a delegation of Russian mothers arriving in the devastated Chechen town of Grozny to determine the fate of their sons, conscripted soldiers who've been reported missing in action. But the filmmakers are soon sidetracked by probable atrocities in Samashki, a settlement of 65,000 people that was heavily bombed in March '95 and cleaned out by Russian troops the following month. Gordon films the excavation of a mass grave--some of the corpses are covered in blood, indicating they were killed on the spot or buried alive--and the ranting of townspeople who charge the Russians with killing women and children. As it turns out, the Russian liaison officer isn't terribly committed to locating the missing conscripts, the unspoken irony being that these untrained youths may have been responsible for some of the mayhem in Samashki. The film bears witness to a harsh landscape of decimated buildings and mutilated bodies, though the rock music on the sound track is fairly offensive, a bad hangover from American movies about Vietnam. In Russian with subtitles. 78 min. (JJ) Showing as part of a double feature with The Unforgiving (1993, 80 min.), Gordon and Petrycki's subtitled documentary about atrocities in Bosnia. (Society for Arts, 7:45)

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Performing Arts
The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
September 05

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