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Photo: Jensen Gifford

There is popular music and unforgettable music. O&AL belong in the latter category.

An acronym for Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, O&AL is a London, Ontario band fronted by singer/songwriter Olenka Krakus and members Sara Froese, Evan Brodie, Christian Hegele, Simon Larochette,  Jeff Moon and Kelly Wallraff.

Influenced by her Polish roots and Canadian upbringing, Olenka delivers songs that resonate with passion. The songs don’t just play for you, they speak to you. And many of them relate specifically to her Polish heritage, especially her memories of Communist Poland and the country’s folklore.

Olenka Krakus Photo: Rob Nelson

Supported by a mix of instruments such as the cello, violin, accordion, trumpet, saxophone, lap steel, mandolin and glockenspiel the music resonates with an eclectic mix of traditional Eastern European ballads and North American country and folk tunes.

It’s a sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello but which manages to exist entirely on its own.

When Olenka and her band recently played at Toronto’s Gladstone hotel (as part of the NXNE festival) the crowd gave them a rousing ovation. And rightfully so.

Here is a taste…

It’s the sort of music that you can listen to over and over again and with every listen it creates a deeper impression.

The band’s newest album And Now We Sing is packed with memorable songs. It’s really worth checking out.

"And Now We Sing" album cover by Patrick Schmidt

"Motel Blues" lyrics

The band is also set to play a string of shows later this summer and fall so, if you get an opportunity, make sure to go. The truly great thing about small concert gigs is that they are so intimate and the bands always give it all they’ve got.

In the meantime you can listen to some of the tunes online on the CBC Radio 3 website.

And have a look at this interview that we conducted with Olenka during her NXNE show.

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Anna Cyzon at the premiere of Textuality

Finding love in the digital age can get very complicated. With BlackBerrys, iPhones and Androids who really has the  time to have a meaningful face-to-face conversation. And maintaining all those relationships can be a full-time juggling act.

Enter Textuality – a romantic comedy about two people trying to get into a relationship while attempting to first get out of the multiple relationships they are managing through their BlackBerrys.

The film stars Sex and the City hunk Jason Lewis, Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack and Carly Pope (who you’ll recognize from the controversial indie hit Young People F’ucking.)   

It hit the screens a few weeks ago and is probably out on video if you care to check it out. And if you’ve already seen it – let us know what you thought.

Also making an appearance is singer Anna Cyzon (a former correspondent for CTV’s eTalk and a host for MTV Canada) who last year was the runner-up in the Polish pre-selections for the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest.

We asked Anna about her involvement in the film…

YouNxt: How did you become involved in the film?

Anna: My agent sent me the script. I initially read for the role of Dani (Carly Pope’s best friend in the film) but I was so busy with Eurovision that I didn’t have time to prep my lines, so…Erin it was!

YouNxt: Tell us a bit about your character.

Anna: Erin is the girl that breaks Jason Lewis’ heart in the film. They have this perfect relationship, he proposes, and then she ditches him at the altar. That pretty much sets up the whole film. After that he becomes a player and well…you’ll have to see the rest of the flick to find out what happens.

YouNxt: What did you learn by working with experienced actors like Eric McCormack, Jason Lewis and Carly Pope?

Anna: Acting is fun but it is not as easy as it seems. Experienced actors like Carly and Eric put a lot of time into their craft, and they really dig deep. I have a long way to go if film is something I want to do more of down the road.

YouNxt: So, is acting something you’d like to pursue in the future?

Anna: Definitely but not until I release a few records, win a couple of Grammys and tour the world once or twice. I’ve got a lot to get out of my system first. Music is my first passion and until I’m fully satisfied that I’ve reached my full potential in that realm, the acting will have to wait. But I’m sure I’ll dabble here and there if the right opportunity arises.

Sex and the City's Jason Lewis

YouNxt: Texting – a relationship maker or relationship killer?

Anna: People misread intention all the time. And it’s so easy to misinterpret tone. I think that when it comes to relationships, texting is like communication breakdown 101. I mean, I can’t count how many times I’ve argued with guys over text. It’s so amateur. Like why not just pick up the phone and call! I think we often hide behind text.

Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack with Carly Pope

YouNxt: What projects are you working on now?

Anna: Currently I’m focused on putting out my first record in Europe. In the meantime I’m back in the studio writing material for my second album. There’s a lot of work to do.

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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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Congratulations to us! This blog post marks the 100th post since we began this blog on March 11, 2010. 

We’ve organized many events since then and have written about a wide variety of Polish and Polonia related things. Below is a quick overview of what we’ve been up to since March 11, 2010.  

We hope that you’ve liked what you’ve seen/read and that you continue to check us out. And if you are particularly inspired please join YouNxt by becoming a member

For those who don’t know us, YouNxt is a network dedicated to connecting, promoting and advancing Polish-Canadian talent. 

YouNxt is the young professional’s branch of the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto and together we work to provide up and coming professionals with unparalleled networking opportunities as well as exceptional social, cultural and educational events that focus on leadership and professional development. 

Thanks for all of your support throughout the past several months and stay tuned as we have MANY exciting events planned for the near future. 

To learn more about us visit our website

And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions feel free to drop us a line at younxt@gmail.com 

YouNxt attends an event with Speaker of the Polish Senate Mr. Bogdan Borusewicz.


Speaker of the Polish Senate Mr. Bogdan Borusewicz (right)


Members of YouNxt, the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce and the Polish Community meet with Canadian Minister of International Trade Mr. Peter Van Loan


Consul General Marek Ciesielczuk (left) and Canadian Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan at the YouNxt and Chamber of Commerce networking event organized at the Polish Consulate in Toronto


YouNxt and Ekran host Polish Director Marcin Wrona and Producer Tomasz Szulc during the Toronto International Film Festival


YouNxt's Opening Reception party for PLAKAT - the Polish Film Poster Exhibition during TIFF2010


YouNxt and Ekran Hot Docs Reception at Veritas Restaurant in Toronto


Director Jedrzej Niestroj (left) and Director Rafal Sokolowski at the YouNxt and Ekran Hot Docs reception


YouNxt's PLAKAT Opening Reception


The Hollylodz fundraising gala attended by YouNxt


YouNxt is an official partner of the "Your Voice. Your Choice" (Masz głos, masz wybór) campaign to encourage voting in Poland's Presidential elections


Networking Garden Party organized by YouNxt and the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce


YouNxt's Garden party attended by the President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce


Ontario Minister of Revenue John Wilkinson speaks at a YouNxt and Chamber of Commerce networking event.


YouNxt sends young professionals to a special screening of Discovery Channel's MegaWorld Poland


MegaWorld Poland screens at the Polish Consulate in Toronto


YouNxt's PLAKAT Opening reception at Steam Whistle

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Alumni of the SLP Class of 2009

This past weekend marked the 1st reunion of the Polonia Leaders School alumni who graduated from a rigorous two week schooling session last summer in Poland. The Polonia Leaders School or Szkoła Liderów Polonijnych (SLP) is an initiative created by the School of Leaders Associationan institution established in Poland in 1994 through the initiative of Dr. Zbigniew A. Pełczynski, an Oxford University professor and former instructor of U.S President Bill Clinton.

SLP Instructor Magdalena Kołodziejczyk with Vice-Consul Wojciech Dzięgiel

The Association is charged with supporting the development of a civic society in Poland and Central-Eastern Europe. It fulfils its mission by shaping new leaders, supporting social activities in local communities, and shaping public activists and educating young people in the area of civics. Future leaders are taught through leadership conferences, seminars as well as foreign internships and public debates. While the school organises regular leadership initiatives for students and young professionals in Poland, last year’s summer program was created specifically for those active in running Polish related organizations in Canada and the United States.

SLP Instructors Magdalena Kołodziejczyk and Daniel Lichota with Alumni Kamila Podbielski

The weekend of September 3rd to the 5th provided a chance for alumni to get together during a mini-leadership course overseen by Magdalena Kołodziejczyk and Daniel Lichota, two SLP instructors who arrived from Warsaw. The weekend also offered an opportunity  for those interested in the school to attend an information session about next year’s edition.

(L-R) SLP 2009 Alumni Laura Felusiak, Agnes Ptasznik, Paulina Kusiak, Katarzyna Rydel, Kamila Podbielski

SLP 2009 Almuni Monika Wyrzkowska, Robert Hryniewicz, Anna Barycka

The SLP program, which is partially financed by the Polish Senate, brings with it opportunities to meet top notch instructors, academics as well as Polish, Canadian and American political figures. It also provides a chance for valuable networking with leaders of NGOs in those countries.

Paulina Kusiak, Magdalena Kołodziejczyk, Filip Terlecki, Monika Wyrzkowska

What mades the SLP experience so great is the fantastic individuals taking part in the program. Participants come from diverse educational and professional backgrounds and all are extremely ambitious and ready to make a positive change. Of course when the seminars stop and the books close, nights are always filled with lively conversations and unforgettably fun memories.

Here’s to the SLP Class of 2009!

For additional photos please visit our facebook page.

Paulina Kusiak, Magdalena Kołodziejczyk, Krzysztof Kusiak

Paulina Kusiak, Monika Wyrzkowska, Anna Barycka, Katarzyna Szacon

Laura Felusiak, Agnes Ptasznik, Anna Barycka, Magdalena Pazdzior

Ian Pasek and Sylwia Maniak

Kamila Podbielski and Filip Terlecki

(L-R) Filip Mielniczuk and Michal Burzynski with guest

SLP Instructors and Alumni at the PLAKAT Film Poster Exhibition organized by YouNxt and the Polish Consulate

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Last night YouNxt was pleased to take part in the fundraising efforts for filmmaker Rafal Sokolowski who in September will be shooting his next picture Seventh Day. The money collected will go directly to help finance his film. Gathered at the Innis Town Hall, a crowd of about 100 watched two of Rafal’s shorts: Lightchasers and the recently completed Three Mothers.

YouNxt was on hand to MC the event. And Producers Justyna and Aaron conducted a raffle. Afterwards Rafal answered a few questions from the audience. The evening came to a close at the Madison Pub where many of the attendees made their way for drinks and further conversation.

It was a fun evening  made better by the fact that it was also a great cause. Rafal will use Seventh Day as a calling card movie to help make his first feature film. For a rising filmmaker that’s an important step on the way to a succesful career.

Thank you again to all those that came out and supported Rafal’s efforts.

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Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy the weekend and most importantly make sure to find the perfect spot to enjoy the World Cup final on Sunday.

Below are a few additional photos from our Garden Party. Once again, thanks to everyone who came out, it was a great event!

The Honourable John Wilkinson, Ontario Minister of Revenue addresses the audience

Director of YouNxt Filip Terlecki with the Honourable John Wilkinson

The Honourable John Wilkinson, Ontario Minister of Revenue

Consul General Mr. Marek Ciesielczuk of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto

Consul General Mr. Marek Ciesielczuk with Chairman of the Board for the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce Mr. Wojciech Sniegowski

Vice-Consul Wojciech Dzięgiel

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