Monday, October 4, 2021

Modjeska Prizes 2021 for Beata Poźniak and Jan Englert, 10.10.2021 in Pasadena


During the 50th Anniversary Ball of Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club on Sunday, October 10, 2021, held in the elegant and historic University Club in Pasadena, our Club will present the Helena Modrzejewska to two great actors, Beata Poźniak, as a distinguished representative of the success of Polish actors in Hollywood and Jan Englert as one of the most eminent actors in the whole history of Polish theater and film, the artistic director of the National Theater and the star of over 100 films. The presentation of the Modjeska Prize to Jan Englert will be shown virtually in the form of a recording of an interview with the laureate - due to travel restrictions to the USA, he cannot be with us in person this year. Beata Poźniak will be able to receive the award in person.

Video link to full interview and presentation of Modjeska Prize 2021 to Jan Englert:

Established in 2010, the Helena Modjeska Prizes are honoring the Club's patron, a famous star of Polish theater, who emigrated to California in 1876. These prizes are also presented in appreciation for the "lifetime" of artistic achievements of great Polish actors who continue Modjeska's acting traditions. In addition to the award statuette, winners will also receive congratulatory diplomas from Los Angeles County (County Supervisor Kathryn Barger), Orange County (County Supervisor Donald P. Wagner), and the State of California (State Senator Anthony Portantino).


Beata Poźniak, is an actress, voice over artist, activist, painter and poet, honored by the Washington Post for narrating the “Best Audiobook of the Year” in the USA, for which she became not only the first Polish performer, but also the first non-English-speaking actress to be hired by the largest literary publisher in the world - Penguin Random House. In Poland, she made her debut in the series Kamil Kurant’s Life and in the US in Oliver Stone’s eight-time Oscar-nominated film JFK playing Marina Oswald, the on-screen wife of Gary Oldman. An experimental film All These Voices won a student Oscar. She is remembered from the TV theater playing Ophelia in Hamlet in the village of Głucha Dolna (The Golden Hundred in TV Theater) and from the series: Young Indiana Chronicles, Złotopolscy, Melrose Place, Mad About You, Babylon 5, where she played a female President of the World. 

She made the US history by proposing the first-ever recorded official bill celebrating International Women's Day (H.J.R. 316) for which she was honored by the Mayor of Los Angeles and in the US Congress. She received the Maria Konopnicka International Prize for "Outstanding Achievements in the Arts and for Championing Women's Rights Around the World". She is a two-time Earphones Award Winner for the best interpretation of an audiobook: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk and The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron. Beata won the prestigious Voice Arts Award in the "Outstanding Video Game Character - Best Performance" category for her role of Skarlet, the Blood Queen in “Mortal Kombat 11”. It is the first award for an actor of this kind in almost 30 years of the game's existence. At the Promenade of Stars in Międzyzdroje, in the tradition of “Hollywood’s Walk of Fame,” she was acknowledged with a bronze imprint of her hand. Appointed by the President of the largest actors’ trade union in the world, SAG-AFTRA, she serves on the Women’s Committee. She often is a Juror, including the EMMY Awards at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Poźniak holds an MA in Film and Drama Arts. She has lectured at USC and UCLA.


Jan Englert (born in 1943 in Warsaw) is a Polish theater and film actor, theater director, professor of theater arts, and since 2003 the artistic director of the National Theater in Warsaw. He made his debut on the big screen as Zefir in Andrzej Wajda's film Kanał about the Warsaw Uprising (1956). In 1964, Englert graduated from the Acting Department of the Aleksander Zelwerowicz State Higher School of Theater in Warsaw and started working for the following theaters: Polski (1964–1969, 1981–1994), Współczesny (1969–1981), and Narodowy (since 1997). He remained in the National Theater and has served as its artistic director for 18 years. Englert collaborated with the most outstanding theater directors, appearing in important roles in plays by Shakespeare, Mickiewicz, Wyspiański, Gombrowicz, Ionesco, and Mrożek. As a theater director he staged plays by Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Fredro, Chekhov, Turgenev and Witkacy. 

We could watch him on the screen in the films of Andrzej Wajda (Kanał, Katyń, Tatarak), Kazimierz Kutz (Salt of the Black Earth, Pearl in the Crown), Janusz Zaorski (Baryton), Filip Bajon (The Magnate), as well as in the TV series by Janusz Morgenstern (Kolumbowie, Polskie drogi), Jerzy Antczak (Nights and Days), and Ryszard Ber (The Doll). In total, he has appeared in over 100 films, and many television plays and TV series. 

He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Knight's Cross and the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1988, 2001), the Gold Cross of Merit (1997), the Gold Medal "Gloria Artis" (2005), and awards named after Aleksander Zelwerowicz (1993/1994), Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński (2008), and Cyprian Kamil Norwid (2012). He also received the Gustaw Award (2014), the Icon of Polish Cinema title (2018) and the Golden Hipolit Prize (2019). We are adding to this wonderful set by bestowing on Jan Englert the Modjeska Prize for 2021, as a lifetime achievement award for his work as an actor.  Englert performed for the Club in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2009.  He shared with the Club's members and guests the wonders of Polish romantic poetry, Kwiaty Polskie by Julian Tuwim, Dziady (The Forefathers' Eve) by Adam Mickiewicz, a play about Saint Nicholas, and other theatrical performances. 


The annual Modjeska Prizes have been established in 2010 to commemorate the Club's patron, Helena Modrzejewska, and to honor the achievements of outstanding Polish actors. In October 2010, the first prize was awarded to actor Jan Nowicki. In 2011, awards were given to Anna Dymna in Kraków and to Marian Dziędziel in Hollywood. In 2012, the laureate was Barbara Krafftówna, and in 2013, the director and screenwriter, Ryszard Bugajski †.  After a five-year break, in 2018 the Club honored with the Modjeska Prize the eminent actress Jadwiga Barańska. In 2019, the award was presented to two actresses from the Polish Theater in Toronto, Agata Pilitowska and Maria Nowotarska. In January 2021, the award for 2020 was presented on Zoom to Andrzej Seweryn. In 2021, two Modjeska Prizes will serve as “lifetime achievements awards” and honor the most eminent representative of the acting world in Poland, the legendary “Icon of the Polish Film” Jan Englert, and the most outstanding representative of Polish actors in Hollywood, Beata Poźniak, who distinguished herself with a highly successful career in the USA.


On October 10, 2021, the Club's members and friends will meet at the elegant, historic Pasadena University Club for the Club's 50th anniversary celebration. Our Ball is the culmination of a series of events, started in January 2021, and taking place in a virtual Zoom format. These were meetings devoted to actors (Beata Poźniak and the presentation of the Modjeska Prize 2020 to Andrzej Seweryn), history (Dr. Iwona D. Korga, President of the Pilsudski Institute and Prof. John Radzilowski), art (Krystyna Sądej) and music (Katarzyna Sądej, Tomasz Golka and Mikołaj Stroiński). The greatest anniversary project is the publication of the 380-page Album of the 50th Anniversary of the Club. Many thanks to all hardworking volunteers! 

During the event hosted by distinguished actor and director Marek Probosz, Dr. Wojciech Kocyan will inspire us with Chopin's music. We will present the Helena Modjeska Prize to eminent actors, Jan Englert and Beata Poźniak. They will also receive diplomas from the County of Los Angeles and the state of California. A wonderful actor, Marek Probosz, will start the Ball by leading the polonaise, while Emmy-winner Andrzej Warzocha, will take care of the AV. Elżbieta Czajkowska served as graphic designer responsible for all anniversary publications. 

Our celebrations are made possible by grants and donations from the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, POLAM Federal Credit Union, a group of former Club presidents, and Moonrise Press.


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