Posts Tagged ‘Roman Polanski’

Anja Rubik and Sasha Knezevic (not actual wedding photo)

Love is in the air!

This past weekend Polish bombshell/supermodel Anja Rubik married her model fiancé Sasha Knezevic.

Anja Rubik and Sasha Knezevic in Majorca PHOTO: Modelinia Blog

From the looks of it, it was a model wedding (too easy 🙂 ). The couple tied the knot on the Spanish island of Majorca.

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Sasha (a former professional basketball player for club Varese in Italy, was born in Serbia but raised in Vienna) and Anja (recently named the most in-demand model) fashion god Karl Lagerfeld’s go-to-girl, got engaged after seeing the opera Dance of the Vampires directed by Roman Polanski (I am guessing that they are big fans of True Blood).  

An emerging fashion power couple of sorts, the two are the creative brains behind the Austrian fashion and lifestyle mag 25 Magazine

Check out the two love birds in action on Polish morning show Dzien Dobry TVN ( Good Morning TVN. )

And here’s Sasha at a Quebec based fashion shoot for Canadian fashion house RW&CO. ft


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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 President of the Polish Promotional Emblem Foundation Mr. Krzysztof Przybyl with YouNxt at Toronto's Distillery District

This past weekend YouNxt hosted the President of the Polish Promotional Emblem Foundation Mr. Krzysztof Przybyl who travelled to Toronto to discuss details of an exciting new initiative.

For two decades the foundation has been at the forefront of recognizing the best in Polish products and services by recognizing them with the “Poland Now” (Teraz Polska) emblem.  

"Poland Now" (Teraz Polska) Awards Gala

The "Poland Now" (Teraz Polska) Emblem

YouNxt along with the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce and the Polish Consulate are collaborating with the Polish Promotional Emblem Foundation and hosting  the “Wybitny Polak” (Outstanding Pole) contest in Canada.

Mr. Krzysztof Przybyl with members of YouNxt, the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce and the Polish Consulate in Toronto

The contest recognizes the achievements of the most outstanding Pole in Poland and abroad. The contest takes place under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland.  

Past winners of the contest have been Wojciech Kilar and Dr. Hilary Koprowski.  

Wojciech Kilar is a world renowned pianist and composer who has worked on films such as: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), The Pianist (directed by Roman Polanski) and most recently, We Own the Night (starring Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes).

Dr. Hilary Koprowski is a Polish virologist and immunologist and the inventor of the world’s first effective live polio vaccine.

Stay tuned for more information about the contest.

Mr. Krzysztof Przybyl discusses the Polish Promotional Emblem Foundation with Polish TV Host Wojciech Sniegowski

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Legendary filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski

Poland has a great tradition of filmmakers. Any serious film fan knows Krzysztof Kieslowski who directed the Three Colours Trilogy: Blue, White and Red. Then, there’s the more nationally inspired Andrzej Wajda who a few years ago received an Academy Award for lifetime achievement. Roman Polanski’s films have often been labelled as masterpieces and filmmaker Agnieszka Holland has directed critically acclaimed televisions shows like HBO’s The Wire. Not only successful directors emerged from Poland but Polish Cinematographers are respected the world over for their unmatched technical skills and expertise. Steven Spielberg’s right-hand man is Polish born multi-Oscar winning Janusz Kaminski who shot Schindler’s List and Minority Report and is currently working on Indiana Jones 5.

Roman Polanski accepting an award at Cannes

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (middle) at the 81st Annual Academy Awards

Agnieszka Holland (left) with actress Diane Kruger

Andrzej Wajda with his new friend Oscar

In Canada, there is a new wave of Polish-Canadian filmmakers who are on the cusp of making some serious headway. Many of them know one another and often collaborate on each other’s projects. It’s the kind of camaraderie needed to succeed in the highly competitive industry. One of these filmmakers is Rafal Sokolowski. He is the subject of this professional profile.

Rafal Sokolowski on the set of his short film "Three Mothers"

Rafal Sokolowski is a Polish-born Toronto based theatre and film director. He began his theatre training at the National Theatre School of Canada. A year after graduating he was awarded the Fox Scholarship from New York to study directing, as an apprentice, at the National Theatre Academy of Krakow. Since then he has worked with numerous theatre companies. After directing theatre for over a decade in Toronto, Montreal and Krakow, Rafal made his first film: Lightchasers which was recently followed up by the short Three Mothers. He is currently teaching acting at the National Theatre School of Canada an Ryerson University’s Theatre School, while working on developing his next film.

Name: Rafal Sokolowski

Profession: Director

Location: Toronto, Canada

Education: MFA Film Production – York University (in completion), BSc Biology – University of Toronto, The National Theatre School of Canada – Acting Program,  The National Theatre Academy of Krakow – Apprentice at the Directing Program.

What are you working on now? I’m in pre-production on my next short film Seventh Day and developing a feature film titled E-7.

Still from "Three Mothers"

Still from "Three Mothers"

Shooting "Three Mothers"

What’s the best thing about being a filmmaker? Attending festivals around the world.

What fuels your passion for the cinema? My passion to create images and to express myself through them.

What do you hope your films do for people? Intrigue them and inspire change.

If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, which one would it be? Seven Samurai

Favourite Director: David Lynch

Biggest inspirations and role models: Krzysztof Kislowski

Rafal on set of "Lightchasers"

Shooting "Lightchasers"

What little things in life do you enjoy the most? Sunny Sunday afternoons.

Is there a motto that you like to live by? Yes: keep on changing the ‘motto’.

Favourite Band or Musical Performer: Bach and Mozart

Why are your Polish roots important to you? They are the only roots I have.

What is the most intriguing thing about your Polish roots? The stories and the personal mythology of my family.

What are your future plans? I want to continue directing films, teaching young artists, and contribute to the dramatic arts.

Website or Contact: www.blinddogfilms.ca

On July 28th Rafal will be hosting a fundraiser/film screening to raise capital for his new project. YouNxt will be there (acting as the MC) and we invite you to join us in support of Rafal and his cinematic endeavours.

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