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Feb 21, 2024

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2021 Polish Film Festival

Since 1997, the Polish Film Festival has been a fixture in Rochester, NY. This year, it will be available virtually to audiences beyond Rochester. The independent Little Theatre will screen the films online April 7-14. The annual festival presents classic Polish cinema, as well as contemporary works produced by the newest generation of the country’s filmmakers. The Polish Film Festival is sponsored by The Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester, The Polish Film Institute, The Polish Filmmakers Association, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, and Polish Heritage Society of Rochester.


Wednesday, April 7

Never Gonna Snow Again, Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie, 116 min, 2020, Poland, Germany
Directed and written by: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englertand
Cast: Alec Utgoff, Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Weronika Rosati, Katarzyna Figura, Lukasz Simlat, Andrzej Chyra

On a gray, foggy morning outside a large Polish city, Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a masseur from the East, enters the lives of the wealthy residents of a gated community. Using hypnotic, almost magical techniques to get a residence permit, he starts working. The well-to-do residents in their cookie-cutter homes seemingly have it all, but they all suffer from an inner sadness, some unexplained longing. The attractive and mysterious newcomer’s hands heal, and Zhenia’s eyes seem to penetrate their souls. The latest from writer/director Małgorzata Szumowska (Elles, In the Name of) and her longtime collaborator Michał Englert is an unclassifiable meditation on class, immigration, and global warming with touches of magical realism and moments of sober beauty and subtle humor.

Never Gonna Snow Again has been selected as Poland’s official Oscar submission this year.
“A magical film. A tour-de-force…of brilliant cinematography.” Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
“A gently mysterious, darkly poetic tonic of the sacred and profane.” Nicholas Bell, Ioncinema
“Malgorzata Szumowska hits a career high in this alluring, atmospheric tale.” Guy Lodge, Variety
“Dreamlike and unnerving. A hypnotic viewing experience that awakens all senses through our eyes.” Carlos Aguilar, The Playlist


Thursday, April 8

I Never Cry, Jak Najdalej Stąd, 98 min, 2020, Poland, Ireland
Directed and written by: Piotr Domalewski
Cast: Zofia Stafiej (Ola), Kinga Prejs, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Dawid Tulej, Nigel O’Neill

Domalewski’s film tackles the subject of mass economic emigration that started after Poland joined the European Union. Thousands, if not millions, of families were separated: kids grew up without their parent or parents. The film’s protagonist, seventeen-year-old Ola, is one of these kids. When her father dies in a construction accident in Ireland, she must leave her mother and disabled brother behind in Poland to retrieve his body. With only a backpack and a dwindling pack of cigarettes, she bounces around Dublin, doing her best to thwart the different levels of bureaucracy. However, what matters most to her is to check whether her father had actually set aside the money for a car he had promised her. It is only during this journey that she realizes that what she has really dreamt of was not a car but a relationship with her father. The performance by first-time actress Stafiej is powerful and impressive.


Friday, April 9

Icarus. The Legend of Mietek Kosz, Ikar. Legenda Mietka Kosza, 122 mi., 2019
Directed and written by Maciej Pieprzyca
Music: Leszek Możdżer
Cast: Dawid Ogrodnik, Justyna Wasilewska, Wiktoria Gorodeckaja, Piotr Adamczyk, Mikołaj Chroboczek, Jowita Budnik, Maja Komorowska, Grzegorz Mielczarek, Jacek Koman, Cyprian Grabowski, Michał Filipiak

The film is based on the biography of a blind jazz pianist, Mieczysław Kosz, who died tragically at the age of 29.

Born in 1944 in a small village Antoniówka, Kosz was recognized as one of the most promising young jazz musicians in the country. Despite being classically trained as a musician, he felt drawn toward jazz, and by the end of the 1960s, he became a phenomenon of the jazz piano scene in both Poland and worldwide, compared to Bill Evans.

We see Kosz’s life through select episodes depicting the most influential moments in his life and career: his childhood on a poor farm in the farmlands of Poland and the loss of his eyesight at age 12 to a debilitating disease and the trauma that it causes. We witness the birth of his gifts – an uncanny ear for music and his determination shared only by true virtuoso. We witness the great heights he achieves in his career that is accompanied by his loneliness and desperate need for acceptance. We see how low he falls due to his fight with alcoholism and trying to deal with the consequences of his fame.

It is a story of an “outsider, a rebel who was struggling against the world and his own limitations” – said Maciej Pieprzyca, the director and screenwriter.

Dawid Ogrodnik brilliantly plays the blind musician, and the outstanding jazz musician Leszek Możdżer is responsible for the musical setting.

Link to the virtual discussion with Director Maciej Pieprzyca will be placed on the Festival website.


Saturday, April 10

Piłsudski, 2019, 108 min.
Directed and written by Michał Rosa
Cast: Borys Szyc, Magdalena Boczarska, Maria Dębska, Eliza Rycembel, Jan Marczewski, Józef Pawłowski

It’s 1901. After a daring escape from a psychiatric hospital at Saint Petersburg, Józef Piłsudski once again becomes the leader of the underground independence movement in Poland. Piłsudski is unyielding on the battlefield, but in his private life he surrenders to passion, torn between the two women of his life: his wife and his lover.

Uncertain years are coming, marked by revolutionary events, violence and betrayal. Pilsudski must find a way to maneuver on the boggy ground – between the conservative passivity of the Polish Socialist Party and the aggression against the invaders, resulting in retaliation. The year 1914 is coming, and the chance for restoring an independent country, independent Poland, is now or never.

Link to the virtual discussion with Director Michał Rosa will be placed on the Festival website.


Sunday, April 11

Kill It and Leave This Town, Zabij to i wyjedź z tego miasta, 2019, 88 min.
Directed by: Mariusz Wilczynski
Voice cast: Anja Rubik Tadeusz Nalepa Andrzej Wajda Anna Dymna, Krystyna Janda, Andrzej Chyra, Maja Ostaszewska, Malgorzata Kozuchowska , Barbara Krafftowna

A remarkable 14 years in the making, this beguiling and curious film was hand-drawn by Wilczynski, who is an artist and animator by trade. The story is semi-autobiographical, encompassing a variety of emotions the director had after losing his parents.

Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, the hero hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are alive. Over the years, a city grows in his imagination. One day, literary heroes and cartoon childhood idols, who in the consciousness of the successive generations are forever young and wearing short pants, come to live there, uninvited. When our hero discovers they have all grown old and that eternal youth does not exist, he decides to return to real life, and the amazing characters living in his imagination lead him back to the real world.

Poland’s official Oscar submission in Best Animated Feature category

“… it is raw, rough, fragmented, angry, often brilliant with its own kind of aesthetic brusquery and pain. Wilczyński serves up brutal images, often drawn on lined paper, for all the world as if that was the only thing to hand when he decided to spill his imaginative guts.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Mariusz Wilczynski’s terrifying first animated feature, Kill It and Leave This Town…. depict(s) a world of monstrous inhumanity and devastating interpersonal cruelty — hell, in short.”– Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
“this surreal and striking animation… [is] so personal and handmade that it almost bears fingerprints… a work of entrancing low-fi artistry and deeply felt emotion” -Sarah Ward, Screen International


Monday, April 12

All for My Mother, Wszystko dla mojej matki, 2019, 102 min
Directed and written by: Małgorzata Imielska Music: Włodek Pawlik Cast: Zofia Domalik, Halina Rasiakówna, Maria Sobocińska, Adam Cywka, Dobromir Dymecki, Jowita Budnik, Malwina Laska, Katarzyna Wajda

Seventeen-year-old tomboy Ola has two obsessions in life—making the Olympic track team and reuniting with her mother. Ola was only 5 when she was taken away from her mother, a well-known athlete. For years, she has desperately attempted to establish contact with her and find out the family truth. She has bounced around between orphanages and has finally caused enough trouble to be sent to a girls’ juvenile reform school. There she experiences a downward spiral of isolation and abuse that would break most souls.

All for My Mother is a remarkable multi-protagonist film, which introduces viewers to the emotional ups and downs of orphanage life, as well as the pressures, anger and longings felt by the young women.

The film is recommended for ages 14 and up.


Tuesday, April 13

Supernova, 2019, 78 min
Directed and written by: Bartosz Kruhlik
Cast: Agnieszka Skibicka, Marek Braun, Anna Mrozowska, Małgorzata Witkowska, Marcin Hycnar, Marcin Zarzeczny

A universal tale, kept in a realistic style, tells the story of a few hours in the life of a rural community. A horrible accident will interweave the destinies of a woman and her two little children with that of a politician, who runs them over, and of a policeman, who arrives at the scene. The horrific events are closely observed by the locals, armed with smartphones and with their curiosity, which will soon turn into righteous anger. Whilst part of the story hinges on coincidence, nothing here is especially unlikely, and it’s the very ordinariness of events that ultimately gives the film its power – this, together with a sense of immediacy that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. There are no pauses for breath. There’s no way back.


Wednesday, April 14

Code Name: Challenge, Wyzwanie, 2020, 104 min
Directed by: Maciej Dutkiewicz
Written by: Arkadiusz Borowik, Maciej Dutkiewicz
Cast: Eryk Lubos, Rafał Królikowski, Aleksandra Popławska, Katarzyna Dąbrowska, Nel Kaczmarek, Nikodem Rozbicki

Jacek and Marek are best buddies for life, standing by each other in everything, including in their jobs as police officers. When one of them is forced to early retirement, the other, in a gesture of solidarity, also turns in his badge. Together they open a pub on a Masurian lake. However, their police instincts are not to be left behind when a man’s body floats up to their pier, especially when the case is assigned to a very attractive woman, police commander Wanda Warska and the first clues in the case lead to a mysterious local businesswoman, Teresa Dukszta.



Maciej Pieprzyca
Director and scriptwriter born in 1964 in Katowice (Poland). He debuted in 2008 with the film “Splinters”. In 2013, he directed “Life Feels Good” – one of the most successful Polish films of recent years, widely recognized internationally (Grand Prix of the Americas, Ecumenical Jury Award and the Audience Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival; Silver Hugo and the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago IFF; Golden Space Needle at the Seattle IFF. It was screened in Rochester in 2014. His third feature, “I’m a Killer” brought him the Best Director Award at the Shanghai IFF (2017), and won the Silver Lions and the Best Screenplay Award at the Gdynia FF (2016).

Michał Rosa
A writer and director known for such works as Farba (1997), Silence (2001), Scratch (2008), and The Happiness of the World (2016), which was screened in Rochester in 2017 and won numerous awards. He directed six season of the series Time of Honor (2008-2013)and co-directed the series Bodo (2016).

Michał Rosa graduated in Architecture from Silsian University of Technology and in Directing from the the Faculty of Radio and Television at the University of Silesia in Katowice. Alongside

filmmaking, Rosa lectures at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Faculty of Radio and Television at the University of Silesia.

Films will be available to watch from 4 pm-7:15 pm on a day given in the program. Then the watch window will be set to 24 hours, which is a length of time to finish watching the film.

Tickets can be purchased at the Little Theatre website
beginning on Wednesday, March 31, and until 7:15 pm on the day of the screening.

Single ticket $12.00, “household” ticket for group watching $20.
Your ticket purchase helps support the Skalny Center!

For more information, please call Skalny Center at 585-275-9898 or e-mail Bozenna Sobolewska at A complete list of films and show times is available at: http:/ and

The Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies is located at the University of Rochester, 101 Harkness Hall – RC Box 270147, Rochester, NY 14625.