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Polish Film Festival in America

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The 12th annual Polish Film Festival in America, produced by the Society for Arts, continues Friday, November 10, through Sunday, November 19. Screenings are at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, and the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $8; passes are also available for $35 (five screenings) and $75 (twelve screenings). For more information call 773-486-9612.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10

Short films, program one

In The Purim Miracle (57 min.) an unemployed man in Lodz has to swallow his anti-Semitism when he learns that his parents were Jewish and he's inherited a great deal of money from a relative in the U.S. Izabella Cywinska directed this TV movie. Showing without subtitles is The Night of Santa Claus (56 min.), a comedy about a jailbird who agrees to play Santa at a nearby orphanage. (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

The Game

A sad sack who drowns his problems in alcohol wins a TV game show; Krzysztof Krauze directed this episode from the TV series Big Deals. 52 min. (Copernicus Center, 9:15)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11

The Sisyphean Labors

Pawel Komorowski directed this historical drama, set in the late 19th century, about a nobleman's son whose political conscience is shaped by his friendships with a peasant and a young radical. To be shown without subtitles. 100 min. (Copernicus Center, 10:00 am)

A Big Animal

Jerzy Stuhr directed and stars as a colorless bank clerk who becomes a local celebrity after adopting a camel from a circus. At first glance the film seems like a daffy children's story: the camel couldn't look more comical loping through the village square, and the clerk and his dowdy wife clearly love the animal and do all they can to make it comfortable. (The wife even knits a special blanket for it, with two holes for the humps.) But as the villagers' fascination turns to jealousy and resentment, the clerk is forced out of the town orchestra, runs afoul of numerous zoning and tax ordinances (the local officials can't find a camel listed on the tax schedules for livestock), and finds he's no longer comfortable leading his camel around town. By midpoint the film has turned as dark as a Gogol story (or Milos Foreman's The Fireman's Ball). Unfortunately the screenplay, adapted by Krzysztof Kieslowski (The Decalogue) from a short story by Kazimierz Ortos, progresses in fits and starts, omitting important scenes from the story. Stuhr's direction seems uncertain in the latter half, and Pawel Edelman's beautiful but stark black-and-white cinematography makes even the sunniest scenes seem brooding. 73 min. (Jack Helbig) (Copernicus Center, 7:00)

The Fairy Land

Henryk Dederko wrote and directed this political parable about a Polish presidential candidate who suddenly announces he will drop out of the campaign and give away everything he owns. With Olaf Lubaszenko. 90 min. To be shown without subtitles; Lubaszenko will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 8:30)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12

In Desert and Wilderness, Part 2

A Polish teenager (Tomasz Medrzak) and an English girl (Monika Rosca), whose parents are working on the Suez Canal project, are kidnapped by Muslims. Henryk Sienkiewicz (Quo Vadis?) penned the source novel for this 1973 children's film (a remake is currently in production in Poland, directed by Maciej Dutkiewicz). The second part runs 92 minutes, from a total of 187. (Copernicus Center, 1:30)

The Cardinal

Andrzej Seweryn (Pan Tadeusz, With Fire and Sword) stars as Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, who defied Poland's communist government in the early 1950s. Teresa Kotlarczyk, who directed this 105-minute feature, will attend the screening. (Copernicus Center, 4:00)

The Sisyphean Labors

See listing for Saturday, November 11. To be shown without subtitles. (Copernicus Center, 6:15)

Short films, program two

Krzysztof Zanussi directed Hidden Treasures (54 min.), about the daughter of an aristocratic Polish family who returns to her homeland from France looking for a case full of valuables that was buried in a forest at the end of World War II. Janusz Morgenstern's unsubtitled Yellow Scarf (64 min.) explores an alcoholic businessman's strained relationships with his son, his ex-wife, and his new girlfriend. (Copernicus Center, 8:30)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13

Condemnation of Franciszek Klos

Andrzej Wajda, who earlier this year was awarded an Oscar for lifetime achievement, directed this new feature charting the moral descent of a Polish policeman who becomes a Nazi collaborator during the occupation. To be shown by video projection without subtitles. 93 min. (Society for Arts, 8:00)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14

Video documentaries, program one

Two unsubtitled biographies: Wojciech Michera's Andrzej Seweryn--Actor (53 min.), about the Polish-born film actor, and Andrzej Wolski's Jan Lebenstein--A Loner's Diary (1999, 39 min.), about the late painter. (Society for Arts, 8:00)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15

Video documentaries, program two

Two videos about Polish music: Adam Sikora's Bluesmen--The Ballad of Jan "Kyks" Skrzek (50 min.), about a miner who combines the work songs of the Silesia region with American blues, and Andrzej Baranski's unsubtitled Let the Music Play (72 min.). (Society for Arts, 8:00)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16

Video documentaries, program three

Two videos: Malgorzata Szumowska's Wedding in the House of Loneliness (28 min.), about the courtship and marriage of two staffers at a senior center in Lodz, and Dzamila Ankiewicz's Death of Zygielbojm (43 min.), about a man who killed himself in the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust. (Society for Arts, 8:00)

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