Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Film: The Labirynth, Captain Pilecki, Festival...

On Friday, August 13, 2010, Modjeska Club members had a rare treat of witnessing a premiere of a brand new documentary, The Labyrinth, dedicated to a monumental artwork by a Polish artist. The premiere was a part of the International Documentary Association’s DocuWeeks 2010 Theatrical Showcase, which is an Oscar qualifying event. The well-attended screening at the Arc-Light Cinemas Hollywood was followed by a VIP Reception co-hosted by our Club, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and ARRI Camera Inc.

The Labyrinth is an immersion into the artwork and testimony of Auschwitz survivor, Marian Kołodziej, a Polish-Catholic, who was sent to the camp on the first day it opened. After his liberation, Mr. Kołodziej went on to become a noted set and costume designer in theater and film. He did not speak about the war-time horrors until fifty years later. In the final decades of his life, Mr. Kołodziej decided to document his memories and experiences in a unique artwork – an extensive collection of large graphic pen and ink drawings, containing scenes of death and suffering, prisoner portraits, visions, dreams and nightmares.

The collection was gathered in a dedicated gallery, housed at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Franciscan Center, near Auschwitz, Poland. Mr. Kołodziej’s testimony about his experiences in the death camp attracted the attention of American film-makers who produced a moving and touching film about resilience and hope in the midst of unbelievable suffering.

Filmed on location in Poland, the film features our friend, former Polish consul, Roman Czarny, as the voice of Marian Kołodziej. The original music score was composed by Marek Żebrowski, director of Polish Music Center at USC. From a lone voice of the cello, to flowing textures and dramatic piano chords, the music is a restrained, profound, and sophisticated interpretation of the haunting art. The director/producer, Jason A. Schmidt, and producer, Ron Schmidt, S.J., are planning an expanded version of this well-received film and are grateful for support from the Polish American community. Donations may be made out to Hope Media Productions and sent to: Ron Schmidt, S.J., Hope Media Productions, 6656 Sunset Blvd. , Hollywood, CA 90028. For more information see:

Marek Probosz as Captain Pilecki

The tragedy of Auschwitz and the suffering of Poles associated with the camp was a subject of another recent film, Death of Captain Pilecki, starring Marek Probosz and directed by Ryszard Bugajski. This astounding true story of a WWII hero, a captain in Polish underground Home Army, who decided to get arrested and shipped off to Auschwitz so he could report about the camp to the Allies and create a resistance network within. Arrested in 1940, Pilecki escaped in 1943 and the intelligence he gathered was sent off to England, only to be disregarded as exaggerated. He fought in the Warsaw Uprising and richly deserved the highest state medals awarded to him posthumously in 1995 by the government of democratic Poland. He died in 1948, after being arrested for gathering information about another atrocity, the Soviet gulags.

Probosz’s interpretation was praised by critics as being “intensely compelling” (“Death of Captain Pilecki” review of 2006). On Saturday, September 21, 2010 the National Public Radio broadcast an interview about the film with Marek Probosz as part of its most popular programs, “All Things Considered.” For those who missed it, the program is available online at the NPR Website.

The heroism and suffering of Poles during WWII were not well known outside the country's borders. It is high time for stories like that of Marian Kolodziej or Captain Witold Pilecki to be told and heard.

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We are pleased to announce that the Modjeska Club will host a meeting with Prof. Leszek Balcerowicz, a noted economist and politician, who led the transformation of Poland's economy into a modern, free-market system in the 1990s. Prof. Balcerowicz's earlier visit, planned for April 2010, was canceled due to the national mourning period after the crash of the Presidential plane near Smolensk, Russia.

Our next event is a free concert celebrating Chopin's 200th birth anniversary, with two wonderful young musicians from New York, Marta Wryk, soprano and Adam Kosmieja, piano.

  • October 10, 6:00 p.m.: An Evening of Song - with Marta Wryk, Soprano, and Adam Kosmieja, Piano (both from New York), at the South Pasadena Library Community Room, South Pasadena. Program includes songs and piano music by Antonin Dvorak and Fryderyk Chopin.

  • October 16, 2010, 6:00 p.m.: Meeting with Prof. Leszek Balcerowicz, economist and politician who reformed Polish economy in the 1990s, hosted by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland

  • October 17, 2010 6:00 p.m.: Modjeska Club Honors Jan Nowicki, award ceremony and reception, event associated with the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles

  • November 21, 2010, 6:00 p.m. Kabaret Starszych Panow performed by our friends, Polish Club from Riverside, at the Petroleum Club of Long Beach. Event open to our guests and friends.

  • December 11, 6:00 p.m.: Christmas Party (Modjeska Club Members Exclusive), private residence.

  • December 31, 2010, 8:00 p.m.: Sylwester - New Year's Eve Party (Modjeska Club Members Exclusive)

  • January 22, 2011, 6:00 p.m.: Travel to Tibet by Maria and Edward Pilatowicz, screening of film and discussion at South Pasadena Public Library Community Auditorium.

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  • September 24-28, 2010: 100 Voices: A Journey Home, full-length documentary screening at the AMC Century 15, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067. Tickets to screenings:
    Saturday, September 25, 2010, Noon, 2:50 PM
    Sunday, September 26, 2010, Noon, 9:30 PM
    Monday, September 27, 2010, Noon, 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, September 28, 2010, Noon, 7:00 PM

    "100 Voices: A Journey Home” is a compelling and moving musical documentary that uniquely tells the history of Jewish culture in Poland. It highlights the current resurgence of Jewish culture through the personal reflections and musical selections of a group of cantors and acclaimed composer Charles Fox (“Killing Me Softly”, “I Got A Name” and many more) who made an important historical mission to the birthplace of Cantorial music. The documentary will give generations the opportunity to learn about and re-embrace the Jewish culture that produced one of the most artistic and educated societies that once flourished in Europe. Above all, the Program will celebrate the resilience and the power of Jewish life, while telling the story of two peoples who shared intertwined cultures.

  • October 14-21, 2010: The 11&1/2 Polish Film Festival Los Angeles is around the corner, and the festival organizers look forward to celebrating with you the achievements of Polish filmmakers from October 14 to 21, 2010. The exact program will be posted on the Festival's website, Festival 11 1/2.

    At the Gala Opening at the Laemmle's Sunset 5 on October 14th the Festival will present LITTLE ROSE (Rozyczka) by Jan Kidawa-Blonski. The Gala Opening is by invitation only to supporters of the Festival [becoming a supporter is easy with a minimum donation of $30.00 before October 1, 2010 ($15.00 without reception)]. VIP seats are available for a minimum donation of $60.00. Make your tax-deductible financial contributions to: Polish American Film Society and mail your checks to 7726 Ethel Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605, or go on line to and make a donation through PayPal.

    For the eleventh and half time anniversary the Festival will present the most recent achievements of Polish cinema, among others: ANOTHER MAN (Nie ten czlowiek) by Pawel Wendorff, BABY PROJECT (Projekt dziecko) by Adam Dobrzycki, THE CHRISTENING (Chrzest) by Marcin Wrona, DECALOGUE 89+ (Dekalog 89+) vol. 1 & 2, CASE UNKNOWN (Enen) by Feliks Falk, JANOSIK. THE TRUE STORY (Janosik. Prawdziwa historia) by Kasia Adamik & Agnieszka Holland, MALL GIRLS (Galerianki) by Katarzyna Roslaniec, MOTHER TERESA OF CATS (Matka Teresa od kotow) by Pawel Sala, PIGGIES (Swinki) by Robert Glinski.

    In the segment of movies made by Polish filmmakers abroad the Festival will present PLAYER by Alina Szpak. To celebrate the 600-year anniversary of Grunwald Battle there will be a screening of THE TEUTONIC KNIGHTS (Krzyzacy) by Aleksander Ford. The documentaries will include THE LABYRINTH (Labirynt) by Jason A. Schmidt, IRENA SENDLER-IN THE NAME OF THEIR MOTHERS by Mary Skinner, TOURNEE by Andrzej Mankowski, BEATS OF FREEDOM by Wojciech Slota & Leszek Gnoinski. In the animation category the program will feature a set of films prepared by Balbina Bruszewska produced by Se-Ma-For Production Company.