March 2017

The first time Łukasz Ostalski and Paweł Wysoczański appeared at Ekran was in 2015 at the 7th Toronto Polish Film Festival.  Ostalski’s diploma film from the Gdynia Film School, The Mother (Matka),had made its Canadian debut and Wysoczański screened his feature length documentary Jurek,about famed high altitude and mountain climber, Jerzy Kukuczka.

Fast forward one year later and the Polish filmmakers returned to Toronto. However, this time they were not specifically invited by Ekran but by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto.  After viewing their films and meeting Ostalski and Wysoczański at Ekran in 2015, the Consulate had the filmmakers return to Toronto to be supervisors in a workshop teaching youth students from Polish language schools on how to create their very first films.

This project, called “We the Poles”, had Ostalski and Wysoczański guide students through the filmmaking process. The films made are about Polish immigrants coming to Canada. The students also happen to be Canadian born and raised children of Polish immigrants.

Both filmmakers were elated to work with their Polish-Canadian students.  When Wysoczański reflected on the experience he smiled and said, “My student created a short animation about Polish Scouts in Canada. It’s incredibly funny. You have to believe me; South Park has nothing on this film. But in all seriousness, my student is so gifted.  I truly believe that he will have a career in filmmaking one day.”

Ostalski and Wysoczański were both very impressed by the creativity, talent and enthusiasm that their students shared.  Ostalski’s students were two 14 year old females who made a sci-fi thriller which they wrote, directed and acted in. He was excited when looking back at the experience working with his students and also hopeful that they will further pursue filmmaking in their future.

Ostalski: “I think that this workshop opened the students’ eyes to the world of filmmaking. We taught them that the first requirement of making a film is an idea.  That’s the most important element and it was great to show them how step by step they could actually develop that initial idea into a movie.  To watch these kids absorb the experience and the knowledge we were able to share with them was definitely an incredible feeling.”

Wysoczański: “Both Lukasz and I made our first films when we were in high school.  I remember my first student film like it was yesterday.  I made it when I was 14. That was so many years ago but I won’t ever forget that experience.  It inspired me to become the filmmaker I am today”.

Currently Ostalski is in research and development for his next film, which will be a crime story that takes place in Poland.  He has also been directing a television drama in Warsaw and finished screening the feature drama Nowy świat (New World), a film about immigrants facing personal conflicts in today’s Poland.

Wysoczański is currently in production for his next feature documentary about Polish missionaries and doctors working in developing countries.  During the time of this interview, he’d just returned from filming in Papua, New Guinea.

Never did these filmmakers imagine that one day they would be teaching their craft to Polish-Canadian students in Toronto.  But as Wysoczański said, “That’s the best part of working in the film industry.  You never really know what the future will bring”. 

For more information on Łukasz Ostalski click here or IMDB.

For more information on Paweł Wysoczański  click here or IMDB.

The student films of We the Poles / Nasza droga do Kanady are premiering in Toronto at Jackman Hall, the Art Gallery of Ontario(317 Dundas Street West) on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 5pm.

Seating is limiting and attendance is encouraged to be confirmed at Toronto.info@msz.gov.pl

We the Poles / Nasza droga do Kanady is a project presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Filmmakers Association in collaboration with the Polish Teachers Association in Canada and Ekran Toronto’s Polish Film Festival.

 

Interview by Jasia Kiersnowski

Ekran is happy to share that The Toronto Short Film Festival has returned to the Carlton Cinema and is screening films for two more days (March 16th and 17th).

The Toronto Short Film Festival showcases the best of international short filmmaking to cinephile audiences.

For more info follow their Facebook and Twitter.

Tickets are available at the door at the Carlton Cinema, at $5.00 for a “block of shorts”.

Check their website for show times & schedules.

Worldwide March 8th is the day that women are recognized and observed for International Women’s Day. However, whether it is International Women’s Day or not, here at Ekran we are proud to work among so many fierce, bright and admirable women every single day.

We are especially honoured when we get the opportunity to screen films by leading Polish female filmmakers.  For instance, this past festival we had the privilege of presenting the historical human rights documentary Karski and the Lords of Humanity. Head Screenwriter and Co-Editor Katka Reszke was in attendance.  Following the screening Reszke interacted and answered questions with the audience.

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Katka Reszke and Ekran’s Executive Director Marta Pozniakowski / Photo: Becca Gilgan Photography

In case you missed the Q&A Session from the Toronto’s 8th Polish Film Festival, here’s a short list of what you may or may not know about the Polish-born, US-based filmmaker Katka Reszke:

  1. She holds a Doctorate in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a Diploma in Jewish Studies from the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and a Masters in Cultural Studies from the University of Wroclaw, Poland.
  1. Not only is she a documentary filmmaker (director, screenwriter, editor, cinematographer), but also a creative non-fiction writer, author of the book Return Of The Jew: Identity Narratives of the Third Post-Holocaust Generation of Jews in Poland (2013). Currently she’s working on her second book The Meshugene Effect.
  1. She was born in 1978 in Wroclaw, Poland and for years did not know she had Jewish lineage. She says that from around age 15 she had a hunch that she was Jewish, partly because she remembered her great-grandmother calling her meshugene (a Yiddish word meaning a ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ person). But it was only in 2013, long after she spent time studying in Israel and long after ‘unnecessarily’ converting to Judaism, that the long-guarded secret was finally revealed about her maternal family’s Jewish relation.
  1. Add theatre to her resume, Reszke is also one of the co-creators and performers ofWe Keep Coming Back,a Canadian-Polish theater performance, which premiered in Poland and Canada in 2016 and will be staged again in both countries in the 2017/18 season.
  1. Beside Polish-Jewish issues, Katka has a personal and professional interest in civil rights and LGBTQ themes. She is a relentless traveler, with a passion for wildlife photography and… the desert.
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    Michael Rubenfeld and Katka Reszke in ‘We Keep Coming Back’ / Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh

 

 

 

For more info on Katka Reszke, be sure to check out her website www.katkareszke.com

 

 

Article by Jasia Kiersnowski