Lights! Camera! Action! Celebrating the Work of Polish Film Directors

Poland is known for many things—it's the country that introduced us to delicious little dumplings called pierogi and the country that scientist Marie Currie Skodowska called home. But Poland is also known for its many famous film directors.

As we celebrate Polish American Heritage Month, I encourage you to check out some movies by well-known filmmakers who hail from Poland.

Adam Holender was born in Krakow, Poland in November 1937. He has over 30 films to his credit but is most noted for his work as director of photography on Midnight Cowboy, which is about a naïve male prostitute and his male friend who struggle to survive on the streets of New York City.

A native of Warsaw, Agnieszka Holland was nominated for an Oscar for her work on the film Europa Europa. This film, based on the true story of teenager in Nazi Germany who survived World War II by concealing the fact he was Jewish, won a Golden Globe in 1992 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Roman Polanski, a Pole who was actually born in Paris, is truly an international filmmaker having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the United States. He is most noted for his work on The Pianist, for which he won a 2003 Academy Award for Best Director. The film is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who was a gifted pianist and struggled to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of WWII.

If you are in the mood for some comedies, check out some of the work by Alexander Gruszynski, a native of Warsaw and a world-famous director of photography. Hamlet 2 is an irreverent and politically incorrect comedy about a failed actor who is now a high school drama teacher. In his new job as drama teacher, he conceives a sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet and his drama students stage the whole extravaganza on one wild night.

The Brothers, another motion picture that Gruszynski worked on, is a comedy/drama about four successful men who have been lifelong friends and band together to share their take on life, love and commitment. Comic, yet also a painfully true exploration of the battle of the sexes.

Queue up the DVD player, get the popcorn (extra butter and salt, please!) and settle in to explore some of the fine work of Polish filmmakers as we celebrate Polish American Heritage Month.

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