SIFF Cinema, a dedicated film space at Seattle Center's McCaw Hall, will be the new home for the Seattle Polish...

Share story

The Nesholm Family Lecture Hall, otherwise known as SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, will be the new home for the Seattle Polish Film Festival, which opens Friday and runs through May 4. This year’s lineup includes a portrait of a 1990s Polish musician, a 2006 Cannes Film Festival winner, a couple of stories about HIV-positive characters and a 40-minute independent production that bills itself as “a short film about everything.”

The festival was held at the Museum of History & Industry, Broadway Performance Hall and other venues, but all events for its 15th installment will be at the Seattle Center site. SIFF Cinema recently opened with a Janus Films Festival; it will also be home base for the latest edition of the Seattle International Film Festival, May 24-June 17.

“It’s a great venue, and the SIFF folks have been very helpful and generous,” said Greg Plichta, a local patent attorney who has been the Polish festival’s director since 2006. “Parking is good, and if you happen to get there early, Seattle Center has so many other things to do in the interim.”

As for the films he’ll be showcasing, Plichta is especially proud to have snared the closing-night movie “South-North.” It’s a much-praised road movie about a monk and a prostitute that is officially a 2007 release in Poland.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“We’re showing fewer films this year,” said Plichta. Schedule conflicts and the availability of 35mm prints have much to do with the drop in quantity. Some of the films are quite recent, and they’re in demand.

“Quality is important, it goes without saying,” he said. “It’s a pretty interesting mixture of features and independent films. We’ll show about 15 films. Next year we should be back to our typical number, which is about 20.”

The festival opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Andrzej Seweryn’s 2006 feature, “He Who Has Never Lived,” the story of a young priest who discovers he is HIV-positive. It will be followed at 9:30 p.m. by Konrad Niewolski’s 2006 drama “Palimpsest,” about a police inspector facing an existential crisis.

Festival information

Passes for the Seattle Polish Film Festival are $50. Individual tickets are $8, or $10 if a festival guest is present. Call 800-838-3006 or go to Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, visit

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the festival adds something new to its lineup: the winner of an indie-film competition, selected by festival fans and staff. According to the festival program, “all accepted submissions must be deemed of sufficient quality to be viewed by a public audience, and be Polish-themed or in a deliberate and meaningful way connected to Polish culture, language or persons.”

The winner was announced over the weekend: Mateusz Droba’s “a short film about everything,” which is described as attempting to address “everything from A to Z or from alpha to omega. As the title suggests, the film tackles theological and philosophical questions against a backdrop of a story of two twins, passing themselves off as a lawyer and a prosecutor.”

Saturday’s lineup also includes Jan Kidawa-Blonski’s “Destined for the Blues,” a fictionalized portrait of the1990s musician Rysiek Riedel (4 p.m.); Slawomir Fabicki’s “Retrieval,” a drama about a troubled May-December romance (6 p.m.); and Filip Bajon’s “The Foundation,” a fact-based story about a charismatic con artist (8 p.m.). “Retrieval” won the Ecumenical Jury’s “special mention” at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Another program of independent Polish films will play at 2 p.m. Sunday. Rafal Kapelinski’s “Emily Cries,” a story of unrequited love set in early-1980s Poland, will be shown on a double bill with Laurence Walsh’s “Cold Kenya,” about a Warsaw businessman who plans to marry. Both films run slightly more than half an hour.

Marek Stacharski’s “Facing Up,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, is the story of a gang member who has trouble reforming. The 6 p.m. Sunday slot is reserved for an invitation-only reception for director Michal Rosa and actress Kinga Preis. It will be followed by an 8 p.m. screening of their 2005 feature, “What the Sun Has Seen,” a story about three people who are united by their need to raise money.

After a three-day recess, the festival resumes at 8 p.m. May 3 with Marek Koterski’s “We’re All Christs,” about a difficult father-son relationship. Koterski and the leading actress, Karolina Gruszka, are scheduled to attend. The final program, at 8 p.m. May 4, is Lukasz Karwowski’s new feature, “South-North,” starring Stanislawa Celinska and Agnieszka Grochowska as a pair of unlikely drifters.

All films will be presented in Polish, with English subtitles. The festival is produced and presented by the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association. Dr. Michal Friedrich and Tom Podl started it in 1992, bringing such internationally recognized filmmakers as Agnieszka Holland (“Europa Europa”) and Krzysztof Zanussi (“Year of the Quiet Sun”) to town. Kris Koper ran the fest in 2002. When he retired in 2005, Plichta, a festival volunteer since 1999, took over.

John Hartl:

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.