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Posts Tagged ‘cinema’

After months of planning and collaborating, we’re excited to finally tell you about an exhibition we have put together along with the Polish Consulate in Toronto and the Film Museum in Łódź.

On September 1st, 2011 the cinematic world of Krzysztof Kieślowski (director of such masterpieces as Oscar nominated the Three Colours Trilogy, Decalogue and The Double Life of Véronique) is coming to Toronto.

Marking the 70th anniversary of his birth and the 15th anniversary of his death, the Film Museum in Łódź along with the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto and YouNxt proudly present the North American premiere of Kieślowski in Posters: The Films of Krzysztof Kieślowski in World Film Posters.

The collection consists of film posters from countries such as: Spain, Italy, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Poland. Its travelled the world and in September will debut in Canada during the Toronto International Film Festival.

On loan from the Film Museum in Łódź for a limited engagement in the epicenter of Toronto’s film festival action, the exhibition will be on display at the Steam Whistle Gallery from September 1-10 and subsequently at the Metro Hall Rotunda from September 12-17. Admission is free.

Anyone with an appreciation for stunning classic and retro movie posters is invited to view the exhibition and attend the opening reception on Wednesday, August 31 from 7pm – 11pm at Steam Whistle Gallery.

Complete details are available on our EVENTS PAGE

Hope to see you all at the OPENING RECEPTION!!!

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“No human community can exist without culture.”

This is the wisdom shared by Vaclav Havel.

Vaclav, a former playwright and elected first president of the Czech Republic, shared this bit of insight as part of the Wisdom project.

Wisdom is the work of 34 year old New York based photographer Andrew Zuckerman who completed the project in 2008.

Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts a generation can give to the next is wisdom gained from experience, the project consists of a collection of 50 photographs/interviews that capture the wisdom of legendary leaders and visionaries, over the age of sixty-five, from the worlds of politics, science, sports and the arts.

Wisdom exists in the form of a book of portraits, a film and a travelling exhibition.

The latter (the exhibition’s Canadian premiere) is on display at Toronto’s elegant Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place) until August 5th, 2011.

Each copy of the book comes with a download code for a 60-minute film comprised of interviews from the project.

Among the global personalities featured are people such as Actor/Director (and all around Dirty Harry) Clint Eastwood, Diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger, first woman to become United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Actor Robert Redford.

There are also two notable characters as far as Poland and Canada are concerned. The first is Zbigniew Brzezinski, Warsaw born, McGill University educated, former United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter.

The second, is world renowned architect Frank Gehry who was born in Toronto and hails from Polish Jewish ancestry.

Wisdom is an inspiring and rewarding exhibition. If you’re in need of a gust of in your sails make sure to check it out. Best of all, it’s free!

And if you’re looking to combine the show with a nice dinner – we recommend either Ki  (Modern Japanese) or the eclectic Marché which are just steps away.

Enjoy your dose of wisdom!

But before you dig in, check out this trailer for the film…

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In Toronto, it seems that when one film festival ends another one begins. Then again, it is the city with the most film festivals in the world, so it’s natural.

Hard on the heels of the world-renowned Hot Docs documentary festival (in which Polish film At the Edge of Russia managed to snag the coveted HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award for its director Michal Marczak) comes the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival (WSFF).

With the motto “shorter is better” this festival showcases the greatest short films from around the globe.

Image from Robert Proch's short film The Gallery (Galeria)

Last year, the festival spotlighted Poland and had a special presentation of films from Warsaw animation powerhouse Platige Image.

This time around, there are four Polish films. They include:

Invisible Border (Niewidzialna Granica)

A Plain Landscape with a Cradle (Krajobraz Nizinny z Kolyska)

The Gallery (Galeria)

Three Mothers

Three Mothers directed by local filmmaker Rafal Sokolowski stars Canada’s rising star Kristin Booth (The Kennedys, Young People Fucking).

Rafal Sokolowski on the set of "Three Mothers"

The film, which plays at the Varsity Cinema on Wednesday June 1 at 1pm and Friday June 3 at 6:15 pm, has been programmed alongside Spike Jonze’s highly anticipated Scenes From the Suburbs.

Spike Jonze is the cinematic genius behind films such as Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things Are and has created some of the best music videos of all time – including the Beastie Boys Sabotage video and Fat Boy Slim’s Praise You.

Director Spike Jonze

In Scenes From the Suburbs, Spike collaborates with Canada’s Grammy Award winners Arcade Fire on a story about a slice of suburban life in wartime. Check out the trailer below.

Playing with Spike Jonze is a big score for Rafal as both screenings are sure to be well attended.

We’ll be running a contest for passes to each of the films so make sure to visit our Facebook page for more details.

Hope to see you at the movies!

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Last night YouNxt along with Ekran hosted a reception in honour of the Polish films at this year’s Hot Docs (the Canadian International Documentary Festival)

The event took place at the posh Kultura restaurant in downtown Toronto.

On hand was Warsaw based Director Pawel Kloc of the much talked about Phnom Penh Lullaby as well as Toronto based filmmakers Natalia Kantor and Rafal Sokolowski.

A big thank you goes out to our sponsors:

Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce

Fregata Restaurant

Ekran Toronto Polish Film Festival

And to Kultura for hosting us.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the photos. Thanks to Peter Calak from GravityBureau.com and Martin Terlecki for snapping these.

(FYI – both Polish feature docs still have showings so if you haven’t already make sure to check them out. Screening info is available here.)

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Polish Cinematographers are some of the most skilled and highly regarded filmmakers in the world. At the top of the list is Janusz Kaminski , the two-time Oscar winner, who has photographed all of Steven Spielberg’s films since 1993’s Schindler’s List.

Determined to eventually reach that level is Montreal raised Pawel Pogorzelski. Here is his profile…

Name: Pawel Pogorzelski

Age: 31

Education: MFA Cinematography American Film Institute (AFI)

Profession: Cinematographer

Location: Los Angeles/Montreal

What are you working on now? Participating in an internship with world-renowned Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Brokeback Mountain, Alexander) on a new film starring Twilight’s Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon called Water for Elephants.

How did you get into filmmaking? I was studying sciences in CEGEP (post-secondary education system in Quebec) and hated it. I took a photography class as one of my alternative classes and fell in love with it. One day I saw La Haine and Baraka and I knew I wanted to change from still photographs to moving images.

What drives you in your work? Storytelling — I’m driven to create cinematic moods that evokes emotional responses. I love creative collaborations with people who can enhance my work. Also, I’m fuelled by the adrenaline and challenge of being on a film set; meticulously working on one lighting setup at a time, knowing, that there is never enough time to get everything done but finding solutions to make it happen anyway.  

What are your future plans? Working professionally as a Cinematographer on films that are meaningful to me (fictional or documentary) and shooting my first studio feature film.

Major Accomplishments: I’ve received two “achievement scholarships” from AFI. The internship with Rodrigo Prieto was a huge deal for me.  Also, my thesis film The Strange Thing about the Johnsons was selected for the Slamdance festival as well as the AFI Showcase one month after completion.

What little things in life do you enjoy the most? Good food, good wine and great company.

Favourite TV Show: Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire

Why are your Polish roots important to you? Even though, I was raised in Montreal, I believe that my Polish roots are a big part of who I am and are reflected in my work.

Pawel Pogorzelski in his own words…

Moving to Los Angeles was a rather interesting decision.

That summer, in Montreal, I was offered a job on a Television Show, which would have given me work for six months and great money. But, I also got into the American Film Institute (AFI), where I could pursue my dream of shooting movies. The money was really compelling and working with friends for six months would be great. On the other hand, the unknown possibilities, the allure of Los Angeles (the Mecca of filmmaking) as well as the AFI, the warm weather and most of all, the chance to develop my career as a Cinematographer ultimately won me over.

…(Los Angeles) does not compare to Montreal. I realize now that Montreal is not that big of a city. For our business, LA is definitely a good place to be. You are surrounded by film and entertainment. The office of Technicolor, the headquarters of Panavision and KINO, massive film studios – they’re all here. It’s impressive!!! It’s a great motivator to know that the dream is close and accessible.

However, the films I am interested in making are far from what Hollywood has to offer. I love filmmakers like Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick and such recent films as Revanche, Thirst, Enter the Void and Summer Hours, which are not Hollywood Blockbusters. Despite this, it feels good to be here and to learn by being in the right place and meeting interesting people.

…you never know who you are about to meet here. There are genuinely great people and those that talk themselves up. I learned to take everything with a grain of salt. What is interesting is the dichotomy of the population. The mega rich live among the mega poor. A lot of crazy, interesting and challenged people walk along these streets.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto

…working with and learning from Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto was something I never imagined. It was great watching a Hollywood blockbuster being made and realizing that it is not much different from the work we do on student films. The big difference is that everyone is at the top of their game. Rodrigo is one hell of a talented cinematographer. It was great to see him work and understand the lighting decisions he was making. It was an inspiring experience.

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This past Thursday Toronto’s premier film location TIFF Bell Lightbox hosted a special promotional screening of Jerzy Skolimowski’s new film Essential Killing.

Starting Vincent Gallo the film delivers a vivid and at times shocking portrayal of a desperate man on the run; and in the European tradition of thought-provoking cinema it  calls for an analysis that extends past the simple thumb up or down review.

Hence, YouNxt asked two film aficionados to give us their take on Essential Killing

Essential KillingREVIEW BY Kasia Kaminska

Archetypes revisited. Without giving too much away, Skolimowski’s Essential Killing is a surprisingly well rendered re-telling of the old “man vs. himself, man vs. nature and man vs. other men” themes.

It is peculiar in that there is very little dialogue, with none from the lead, played by Vincent Gallo, at all. The limelight is effectively stolen by the spectacular cinematography which sets and follows the story of an Afghan prison escapee making his way through the snow-laden wilds of some unknown and completely foreign land (which, from the snippets of local dialogue, is evidently Poland).

Gallo is evocative as the classic Anti-hero. A fugitive by accident, he stumbles, shivers, shakes and whimpers through the grueling and physically daunting performance. Given the harsh terrain and weather conditions it is plausible that Gallo is not so much acting as struggling to survive the duration it takes to capture the shot. Every step of the way Gallo is terrified and frantic and there isn’t a single ounce of showboating or bravado here. No revelry in violence or killing.

Waterboarding torture scene

Gallo’s character could be anyone. Every time he desperately takes a life to preserve his own he is left shaken to the core, visibly weakened and bloodstained. Skolimowski does not soften nor censor the very desperate human condition in this film. He illustrates every painful act and decision with precise calculation.

We think along with Gallo and consider his next step as if it was to be our own. When he spies an opportunity we wonder what he’ll do: spare the fisherman? Kill the woman on the bicycle? What would any of us do?

The film's controversial and shocking "woman on bicycle scene"

With an army of nameless, faceless, masked commando’s with German shepherds hot on his trail, Gallo must survive in a harsh, unknown and unfriendly environment. The only thing keeping him going are delirious flashbacks into his past; a wife, a child, a home, a family. He was once like you or I. Normal. Not a killer.

There is, however, a small ray of hope for even the most hopeless. Our doomed Gallo experiences one last act of kindness in a world that has already chewed him up and spat him out. It is the literal saving grace, perhaps, for someone beyond saving.

And finally, the best thing about this film besides the acting and storytelling is the very light sprinkling of political commentary. The stage is set and the chase is on. We are left to form our own opinions.

Kasia Kaminska is a Toronto based painter, illustrator and graphic designer who holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from York University. You can learn more about her work at http://www.deepfriedchickenskin.com/

Essential Killing – REVIEW BY Thomas Jankowski

Director Jerzy Skolimowski

There are people who regard Skolimowski a living legend of Polish cinema and those that consider his work to have truly mattered, some two, three decades ago. For instance, Knife in the Water (1962), on which he collaborated with Roman Polanski, is still on mandatory viewing lists of many cinema studies program.

Known for his statement about making films for himself, he nonetheless managed to rouse audiences with an otherworldly Hands Up (shot in 1967, released 1981) and Ferdydurke (billed in some places as 30 Door Key) (1991), a notoriously difficult to adapt or translate modernist novel by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz.

Then Skolimowski released Four Nights with Anna (2008), and Essential Killing (2010).  Audiences and critics worldwide seem to agree again that indeed, his voice is unique and that he matters. Not that he means to.

He shot Four Nights with Anna next to his house and had hoped to do the same with Essential Killing.  Instead, the film took him around Poland, Israel and Norway, and caused him to shoot in -32 weather and to contract an adverse form of pneumonia, deemed very dangerous at Skolimowski’s age of 72.  “Never again,” he claimed with a smile.

Director Jerzy Skolimowski with Emmanuelle Seigner on set

Essential Killing is a story of an Afghan citizen suspected of terrorism, taken captive by Americans and transferred to Europe for interrogation.  He escapes and finds himself a fugitive in the midst of a Polish winter, with his confused mind set on survival.  While the film takes several indirect passes at the politics of the moment, it is far more existential and “mockumental” than it is political.

Essential Killing is difficult because it’s antiheroic.  The antihero, Mohammed, played by Vincent Gallo, must remain on the edge of our emotional perception in order for us to feel contempt when he’s a predator and sympathy when he’s a victim.  We have to like him enough to let him in, but never enough to let him stay, just as the deaf woman (played by Roman Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner) who helps him along the way.

The film is minimalist, quiet and yet intense.  It offers silence but no solace, neither to the protagonist nor the viewer.  Despite beautiful scenery and outstanding cinematography, it leaves the viewer feeling uncomfortable and forced to review his/her assumptions about the essence of life.

Skolimowski’s quest to do an easy film may have failed, but he has given us one of the most physically evocative chase films in a long while.  We can only hope that having found his voice again, he will continue to produce works of such exceptional quality.

Thomas Jankowski is an IT Consultant with an MA in Media and a BA in Literature. His company, QuasiLife, helps companies improve their bottom line through an effective application of new technologies and social media to business operations. He has also worked as a creative writer and a journalist, and still occasionally produces short works of fiction and film reviews.

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The 2nd edition of EKRAN: The Toronto Polish Film Festival returns from November 19 – 21, 2010.

Last year’s festival marked the return of a Toronto festival dedicated entirely to Polish films.

Poland has a great tradition of filmmaking and it was exciting for film fans to be able to see movies that they might not get to otherwise.

This year, the three-day fest will feature both free and paid screenings as well as a lecture about Polish Cinematography by Prof. Maria Kornatowska from the renowned Polish Film School in Lodz, where masters like Krzysztof Kieslowski and Roman Polanski once studied.

YouNxt is proud to be a supporting partner of the Ekran Festival and we’ll be providing you with an insight into some of the films.

But until then…for all the details about ticket prices and screening times, please visit the EKRAN Festival website.

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