As the race to win the 89th Academy Awards begins to heat up, especially in the foreign film category with an impressive 85 official submissions from around the globe, it seems as if there is a film festival gala every night in Los Angeles.

Over the past two weeks, the films of Europe were celebrated with opening night galas at the iconic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood for the 17th Annual Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles and the German Currents Film Festival that reached its milestone 10th anniversary this year.

On October 12, the annual Polish Film Festival’s (www.polishfilmla.org) much anticipated opening night featured a VIP reception and an awards ceremony with the inaugural Artist of Polish Heritage Achievement Award going to actress Loretta Switt, followed a screening of the award-winning film “The Eccentrics, The Sunny Side of the Street” by Janusz Majewski, starring Wojciech Pszoniak.

Polish Film Festival Los Angeles Founder Vladek Juszkiewicz and Loretta Switt | Photo Credit: Aleksy Volchek
Polish Film Festival Los Angeles Founder Vladek Juszkiewicz and Loretta Switt | Photo Credit: Aleksy Volchek

During the opening night festivities, awards were presented to the best of the festival, including the Piotr Lazarkiewicz Award for Young Talent presented to Marta Nieradkiewicz and Agnieszka Zulewska; Adam Bratcher Music Debut Award to Tomasz Slesicki, Bridging the Borders Award for a Short Film to Milosz Sakowski for “Grandma’s Day,” Cinema Without Borders Special Jury Award for a Short Film to Damian Kocur for “What I Want,” Hollywood Eagle Animation Award to Alicja Jasina for “Once Upon a Line,” Hollywood Eagle Award to Marcin Bortkiewicz for “Walpurgis Night” and Hollywood Eagle Documentary Award to Marek Tomasz Pawlowski for “The Touch of an Angel.”

Award Winners Polish Film Festival Los Angeles | Photo Credit: Aleksy Volchek
Award Winners Polish Film Festival Los Angeles | Photo Credit: Aleksy Volchek

Presented by The Polish American Film Society, the festival celebrated the greatest achievements by Polish filmmakers each year over nine days, with screenings at Laemmle’s NoHo7 and Monica Film Center.

The following week, we travelled on to Germany. Since 2007, German Currents (https://www.facebook.com/germancurrents/) has brought the best of German, Austrian and Swiss film to Los Angeles, offering Southern California audiences the chance to experience the films and culture of German-speaking nations.   The festival was produced and presented by the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles and the American Cinematheque, with support of German Films, Deutsche Welle and The Friends of Goethe, and in-kind cooperation with the German Consulate General, the Austrian Consulate General, and the Consulate General of Switzerland.

On October 20th,  German Currents opened the festival with the red carpet Los Angeles premiere of director Wolfgang Becker’s critically acclaimed film “Me and Kaminski” starring Daniel Brühl and Geraldine Page.  The GABA Film Initiative and the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles also hosted a special “Tribute to Wolfgang Becker,” who also is known for his film “Good Bye Lenin!,” featuring an in-depth conversation with the filmmaker about his career.

Director Wolfgang Becker | Photo Credit: German Currents
Director Wolfgang Becker | Photo Credit: German Currents

Other films featured during the four day event included Swiss director Alain Gsponer’s adaptation of the children’s classic “Heidi” starring Bruno Ganz; acclaimed writer-director Doris Dörrie’s feature “Fukushima, Mon Amour,” screened with Anna Zohra Barrached’s “24 Weeks”; Austrian director Händl Klaus’ Teddy Award-winning (Berlin Film Festival LGBT award) “Tomcat”; writer-director Gerd Schneider’s debut “The Culpable” screened with 2012 Student Oscar winner Thomas Stuber’s “A Heavy Heart”; writer-director Annekatrin Hendel’s acclaimed documentary “Fassbinder”; and writer-director Nicolette Krebitz’ controversial Sundance Film Festival selection “Wild” paired with Swiss writer-director Tobias Nölle’s FIPRESCI Prize Berlin 2016 winner “Aloys.”

Photo Credit: German Currents
Photo Credit: German Currents

To cap off the fortnight of foreign film, was New Russian Film Week that featured the year’s best in Russian film. Presented by ROSKINO (www.roskino.org), supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the project’s key partner, TVzavr video streaming platform, the event debuted on October 27, in anticipation of the upcoming American Film Market.

Opening Night New Russian Film Week in Los Angeles, Alexander Rodnyansky, Pyotr Fedorov, Katya | Photo Credit: Roskino
Opening Night New Russian Film Week in Los Angeles, Alexander Rodnyansky, Pyotr Fedorov, Katya | Photo Credit: Roskino

A variety of titles selected by the event’s programmers Katya Mtsitouridze, CEO, Roskino and Alex Ago, Director of Programming and Special Projects at the USC School of Cinematic Arts were premiered, including award-winning features released in 2016. The line-up featured “The Duelist” by Alexey Mizgirev, “Good Boy” by Oksana Karas, “Rag Union” by Mikhail Mestetsky, “Zoology” by Ivan Tverdosky, and a number of shorts, including “The Kid” by Vlad Kozlov, “Father and Boy” by Evgeny Sinelnikov and “Brutus” by Konstantin Fam.

A special presentation of “Attraction” by Fedor Bondarchuk, the first ever Russian-made alien invasion thriller, was a highlight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTE6uoCkOXU

A great start for the latest festival on the LA scene!

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