INCREDIBLE DOCUMENTARIES AT THE 31. POLISH FILM FESTIVAL IN AMERICA
2019 PFFA line-up comprises number of exceptional must-see documentaries. Here is a preview.
FORMER POLISH WOMEN PRISONERS OF RAVENSBRUCK ORGANIZE ESCAPE OF THEIR NAZI COMMENDANT FROM A COMMUNIST PRISON
“The Case of Johanna Langefeld” dir. Wladyslaw Jurkow, Geburg Rohde-Dahl
The filmmakers explore the unknown story of Johanna Langefeld, chief guard of the Nazi concentration camps for women at Auschwitz and Ravensbrück, who escaped from Montelupich prison in Cracow on December 23, 1946 while she awaited trial for Nazi war crimes. Her escape was made possible by Polish survivors of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. For ten years, she hid from the Polish authorities before returning to Germany in 1957. This story was kept secret for many years because its disclosure meant certain punishment for both the German guards and the Polish prisoners who enabled her escape.
POPE JOHN PAUL II AND PRESIDENT RONALD REGAN HAVE A PLAN TO TOPPLE COMMUNISM
“The Divine Plan” dir. Robert Orlando (director in attendance!)
The president and a pope were the unlikely pair who combined deep faith with political acumen and a shared revulsion for the evil of Soviet Communism. John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the dramatic end of the Cold War remains the least-known story of the twentieth century. This is a story that involves two assassination attempts, KGB scheming, CIA intrigue, and the final act to topple the Soviet Empire.
THE ZABINSKI COUPLE ESTABLISH THE WARSAW ZOO WHERE THEY HIDE JEWS ON A LARGE SCALE DURING WORLD WAR II
“Of Animals and Men” dir. Lukasz Czajka
This story was the basis of the feature film “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” Now, we can learn more about its real-life protagonists – Antonina and Jan Żabiński. Before WWII, they ran the Warsaw Zoo, which during the war gave shelter to many people, mostly Jews. This extraordinary tale of courage and great passion is made of archival materials, staged fragments, and testimonies of witnesses and survivors.
SEXUAL ABUSE IN POLISH CHURCH NOWADAYS – THE MOST FAMOUS POLISH FILM OF A YEAR!
“Tell N One” dir. Tomasz Sekielskin
The film addresses the issue of responsibility of the Episcopal Conference of Poland for hiding pedophile priests from law enforcement. It portrays both new and old cases of these crimes. This production was financed entirely by online fundraising. The documentary was released on YouTube. During the first eight days the movie received more than 20 million views.
SENSATIONAL STORY OF POLISH SCREEN STARS BEFORE WWII
“Hollywood by the Vistula River” dir. Jacek Papis (director in attendance!)
In light and witty way, this film tells the story of Polish cinema from its beginnings until the start of World War II. Rising on the wave of enthusiasm generated by Poland’s newly regained independence, the films of this era created a unique generation of stars, Adolf Dymsza, Eugene Bodo, Hanka Ordonówna, Jadwiga Smosarska, and Pola Negri who went on to have an international career in Germany and Hollywood. The outbreak of World War Two interrupted further development. Some of the stars did not survive the war, some were prisoners in concentration camps, and others emigrated abroad. “Hollywood on the Vistula” brings the memory of these forgotten stars and expands our ideas about Poland’s pre-war films.