7 1/2 Cinema - Post Revolution Blues Polish Ukrainian Film Festival

Screen Gems 3 1/2 Stars - Chicago Tribune ; Chicago Public Radio feature

Screen Gems, Chicago Tribune Like the films of the Dardenne brothers ("L’Enfant"), Fabicki’s portrait of a working-class life beset by warring circumstances unfolds like an eloquent improvisation. Chicago Public Radio "This weekend Chopin Theatre will host a film festival with films center around Post-revolution lives of Slavic peoples.


08/24/07 - 08/26/07

Evenings


Screen Gems, Chicago Tribune "Like the films of the Dardenne brothers ("L’Enfant"), Fabicki’s portrait of a working-class life beset by warring circumstances unfolds like an eloquent improvisation. Wojtek (Antoni Pawlicki) is a young man, not yet 20, who knocks around as a boxer and yearns for a life other than working on his grandfather’s pig farm. Wojtek’s Ukrainian girlfriend and her son, harboring a secret, see Wojtek become a changed person once he goes to work for a smilingly amoral loan shark. Unlike most films detailing the corruption of relative innocence in the realm of crime, "Retrieval" makes each act of violence count, and Fabicki has a way of framing the worst of the brutality in telling, offhandedly revealing strokes. The strain of Wojtek’s working life bleeds over into his struggle to make a family for himself, and that struggle proves consistently absorbing. Screens as part of the three-day "Post Revolution Blues -- Polish Ukrainian Film Festival" - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune 8/24/07

Chicago Public Radio "This weekend Chopin Theatre will host a film festival with films center around Post-revolution lives of Slavic peoples. The festival is called Post Revolution Blues: Polish Ukrainian Film Festival . Next month, Ukrainians will trudge to voting booths yet again to vote for parliamentary candidates. It will be the nation’s fourth national ballot in less than three years. Polls reveal the masses believe the vote may do little to resolve the nation’s seemingly intractable political crisis. In Poland this week, political turmoil intensified as ex-government ministers accused Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s right-wing Law and Justice Administration of using the Secret Services and political arms of the state to discredit political rivals. Parliament will vote September 7th on a motion to dissolve itself which could spark an October general election. Poland’s “Solidarity Movement” and the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine brought personal freedom and free market capitalism to millions. But millions still were left behind in their respective countries. Issues of identity, personal freedom and the role of the State, are but a few of the many issues Poles and Ukrainians grapple with today" - Jerome McDonnel Host Worldview on Chicago Public Radio 8/23/07

"The anti-communist Solidarity Movement in Poland in the 1980s and the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005 propelled the soviet bloc countries into Democratic states. But although the two countries emerged from communist control with hopes for a brighter future, their newfound independence in many cases exacerbated the problems of unemployment, poverty, violence and corruption. "Post-Revolution Blues" a film and lecture series running this weekend at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, will explore the aftermath of independence in the two nations. The films and discussions present the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl through the eyes of children living near the radioactive site, highlight the struggles of Ukrainian children living homeless in the streets of Kiev and examine the plight of immigrants struggling to survive in far away lands. The 2001 black-and-white short film "A Man Thing" by Academy Award-nominated director Slawomir Fabicki, tells the story of a 13-year-old Polish boy who tries to hide the bruises inflicted by his abusive father from his friends and teachers. Idczak, a gifted athlete, struggles for normalcy as his life spins out of control. After he is cut from the school soccer team for refusing to change into his new uniform in front of the coach and players, the boy finds solace through his only friend, a stray dog that faces euthanization. "Liza," a short documentary by director Taras Tomenko, presents a day in the life of a homeless Ukrainian girl who survives through government aid programs and panhandling. Scars on her face and legs along with her unapologetic and derisive demeanor paint the picture of hardened criminal. But the girl’s steely composure fades when she is reminded of her missing mother. Marta Farion, a member of the board of directors for the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and organizer of the event, said the series focuses on the two countries because they face similar problems, and in many ways their fates are connected. "The carnival is over but the problems linger on," she said. "On the one hand, there is a lot of hope that changes in society will come, but everyone realizes that the changes will take a long time." She said that despite past animosity between Poland and Ukraine, those in both countries are beginning to realize the benefits in promoting close economic and cultural ties. "Instead of doing this only as a Ukrainian film festival we thought it would be wonderful to combine the Polish and Ukrainian films because these films deal with more or less the same issues and the same subjects," she said. The festival will feature one film that breaks from the gloomy theme of post-revolution problems at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2318 W. Chicago. A special screening of the Pixar animated film "Cars" dubbed in Ukrainian will play on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. She said the Ukrainian voiceover is significant because of its rarity. "They are usually dubbed in Russian because it’s a huge market and goes to countries in the former Soviet Union," she said. "But this particular movie is the first animated American movie that’s been dubbed in Ukrainian. For the Ukraine, this is a major accomplishment." She said the characters’ voices are by famous Ukrainian actors such as Bohdan Stupka. "Everyone knows his voice," she said. The series also will feature discussions by the films’ directors, human rights advocates, Polish and Ukrainian scholars and film critics. Yuri Shevchuk, a professor of both Ukrainian language and film history at Columbia University in New York, will speak at the "Global Identity" discussion on Friday, Aug. 24 at 9:30 p.m. at Chopin Theatre. The discussion will follow the feature-length film "Acts of Imagination" by Canadian director Carolyn Combs. Shevchuk also is founder of Columbia University’s Ukrainian Film Club. "Interest in world cinema is growing slowly in the United States, with more festivals and films being shown," he said. "We wanted to tap into that limited number of viewers interested in world cinema." Shevchuk, who helped organize the festival, said people in newly-liberated countries inevitably "expect too much" and face certain disappointment. He said he decided to hold the series in Chicago because of its large concentration of Ukrainians and its status as having the largest number of Polish people outside of Warsaw. The festival is part of an ongoing film series at Chopin called 7½ Cinema. The series already has hosted the Chicago Underground Film Festival and A Tribute to Polish film director Igmar Bergman. Dyrkacz, a Polish immigrant himself, said he was initially worried about featuring the Post Revolution Blues series "because it’s so hard to get people to come see things that are depressing." He said that the series aims to do more than just entertain but to enlighten those who are unaware of the problems facing former soviet bloc countries. "You don’t just kill the king and have a new life," he said. "Sometimes it takes a generation." Tim Inklebarger, Chicago Journal 8/22/07

Five films presented at Chopin Theatre are Acts of Imagination; The Unnamed Zone; Liza; A Man Thing; Retrieval; and There Was An Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.

The festival discussions included "Global Identity" with director Carolyn Combs and Michael Springate, Alton Miller with Columbia College Chicago and Oscar nominee Slawomir Fabicki; "Social Activism thru Filmmaking" with Stephen Steim of Human Rights Watch, Adam Ensalaco with Greenpeace and Slawomir Fabicki; and "Family Redefined" with Slawomir Fabicki. All panel discussion moderated by film critic Zbigniew Banas and Yuri Shevchuk of Columbia University New York.

Director
Carolyn Combs, Michael Springate, Carlos Rodriquez, Taras Tomenko, Slawomir Fabicki and Olena Fetysova

Tags: Festival, Film, Polish, New Europe, 2007