Film festival explores Polish culture

APRIL 11, 2013

Following the popular French Film Festival that took place in late March, the Polish Film Festival is being held this week at VCU. The event is organized by the Polish Student Association and is airing films in the Commons Theater of the VCU Student Commons all this week.

The first year of the festival was held in the spring of 2012 and hopes to make the event biannual, planning to hold similar festivals in the fall and in spring 2014.

Monika Ruchala, president of the PSA, managed the organization of the festival. The group chose to hold a film festival in hopes of bringing attention to Polish culture and promoting discussion among students.

“We wanted to establish an understanding of Polish culture among students with Polish heritage, as well as other interested members of the VCU community,” Ruchala said.

The groups plans a year in advance for each festival. Many Polish films are difficult to find because of licensing and distribution issues, but the advance planning gives them time to find alternatives when needed.

According to Ruchala, 2 percent of Virginians have Polish ancestry, and she said the group hopes the festival will be a chance for those individuals to be exposed to cultural works from Poland.

“Polish movies are unique and original because they mirror Poland,” Ruchala said of Poland’s national cinema. “They present Poland’s rich and vivid history by telling stories of great Poles, times of kings, uprisings and wars. Furthermore, they show how Polish people kept their spirit and sense of humor during difficult times.”

Ruchala said that the group tries to show different kinds of films at the festival. They try to feature works from some of Poland’s more famous directors such as Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieslowski, while also trying to show a range of films that adapt Polish works, show Polish history and show what makes Poles laugh.

“Our organization benefits the VCU community by allowing students, faculty and staff to learn about Polish culture, customs, history and artistic and intellectual contributions to the world at large,” Ruchala said.

This story was originally featured in The Commonwealth Times.

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