Presented by the Society for Arts, the Polish Film Festival in America runs Friday, November 6, through Sunday, November 22, with screenings this week at Beverly Arts Center, Facets Cinematheque, Pickwick, River East 21, and Society for Arts. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $13, $12 for students, and $9 for seniors; documentary screenings are $10 for all, and a festival pass, good for seven screenings, is $70. For more information, a complete schedule, and ticket purchases, call 773-486-9612 or go to pffamerica.com.
R General Nil This handsome, well-acted biopic chronicles the postwar life and tragic death of the legendary Polish anti-Nazi guerrilla leader General August Fieldorf, portrayed with charismatic grit and stoicism by granite-faced Olgierd Lukaszewicz. Pressured by Polish nationalists to lead a second insurgency, against Soviet rule, Fieldorf is swept up by the secret police and subjected to a national show trial for capital crimes against the people. Director Ryszard Bugajski keeps things simple and dry, allowing the harrowing historical material—including some harsh evocations of Polish anti-Semitism—to speak for itself. In Polish and German with subtitles. 123 min. —Cliff Doerksen Screening as part of the opening-night gala; tickets for the film only are $29. Fri 11/6, 7 PM, River East 21
I Am Yours A comely but neurotic woman throws her nice-guy husband out of their posh condo, then busts a Lady Chatterley move with their low-bred building superintendent. News of her resulting pregnancy brings out the psychotic control freak in her new lover and the backstabbing slut in her unstable sister, who makes a heavy play for the spurned husband; the husband is concerned mostly for the unborn child (rendered in bizarre, interuterine CGI). Writer-director Mariusz Grzegorzek likes to combine cool blue interiors with fluorescent histrionics and periodically throws in a shot of a beehive for artsy extra credit. In Polish with subtitles. 105 min. —Cliff Doerksen Sun 11/8, 7 PM, Pickwick, and Thu 11/12, 9 PM, Facets Cinematheque
Mall Girls Lonely after six months as the new kid in school, a withdrawn teenager from a joyless family (Anna Karczmarczyk) begins hanging out with three loud, malicious classmates who cruise the local malls. In their eagerness to acquire the latest flashy trash, they shoplift or turn tricks, and gradually a sexual attraction develops between the heroine and the girls' ringleader (Dagmara Krosowska). Kasia Roslaniec directed this gritty drama, avoiding the sentimentality of most coming-of-age films to take an unflinching look at a rudderless generation. In Polish with subtitles. 77 min. —Andrea Gronvall Sun 11/8, 5:30 PM, Pickwick
Never Say Never Ama (Anna Dereszowska) is a ball-busting corporate climber by day and a man-eater by night, but in her chilly corner office she pages through a secret stash of parenting magazines, daydreaming about newborn babies. Her biological clock is ticking like a time bomb, plus her gynecologist warns her that a youthful abortion may have compromised her fertility. I believe "backlash" is the accepted Western term for such material, though directors Wojciech Pacyna and writers Iwona Siemieniuk and Pawel Mossakowski seem more interested in working up suds than in driving home any coherent ideological agenda. The visuals are slightly above soap-opera level; the dialogue and cast are not. In Polish with subtitles. 102 min. —Cliff Doerksen Sat 11/7, 9 PM, Facets Cinematheque, and Sun 11/8, 3 PM, Pickwick
Snow White and Russian Red To Americans this fast-and-loud postmodern farce may not seem like any big deal, but amid the staid social-realist cinema of its native Poland, it must have been a real shot across the bow. Adapted from a best-selling novel by Dorota Maslowska (who plays herself in a late-breaking Pirandellian sequence), it follows an irate, meth-snorting thug as he cuts off his relationship with his girlfriend and encounters an assortment of strange young women (a world-weary goth who turns out to be a virgin, a butch woman who trashes his apartment in search of drugs). The action is framed by a conflict between the hero and a local Russian hood, and a wildly bloody climax implicitly attacks Russia as a purveyor of corrupting capitalism. The times they are a-changing. Xawery Zulawski directed his own script. In Polish with subtitles. 108 min. —J.R. Jones Sun 11/8, 8 PM, and Tue 11/10, 9 PM, Facets Cinematheque
Splinters "Evolution prefers extreme egoists, who . . . eliminate all altruists in the way," declares a self-serving academic (Marcin Hycnar) at the start of this 2008 Polish drama. His observation appears to hold true not only for himself as he prepares to leave his Silesian industrial town for the U.S. but also for a wealthy businessman's spoiled daughter (Karolina Piechota) and a thuggish ex-soccer player (Antoni Pawlicki). Writer-director Maciej Pieprzyca intertwines their respective stories but lacks the skill to make his complex narrative work, dispatching an Elvis impersonator as the deus ex machina that brings the film to its clunky and ambiguous close. In Polish with subtitles. 106 min. —Andrea Gronvall Fri 11/6, 7 PM, Facets Cinematheque