“Actress” is a feature length biography documentary about the late Elzbieta Czyzewska, one of the most famous Polish actresses, and an icon of 1960’s beauty. The film focuses on her life after the height of her career and fame in Poland, showing her efforts to sustain her identity as an actress after immigrating to the United State to be with her husband, the American journalist David Halberstam.
Friends and colleagues speak about her failed marriage, her struggles with alcoholism, and her attempts to return to Poland. The film portrays an archetypal story of the fate of an actress at different stages of her career- the highs, the lows, and the in-betweens.
Appearing in the film among others are: Meryl Streep, Annette Insdorg, Andrzej Wajda, Daniel Olbrychski, Michał Urbaniak, Adam Holender, Gay Talese, Nancy Weber, Hanna Hartowicz. The background of the film is an impressive New York City, a place which Czyzewska saw as her second motherland. „Actress”is also the story of the life of an immgrant, and about having a foreign accent, which for Czyzewska made her career in the US impossible. Through the people who knew her best, we learn about the life and character of Elzbieta Czyzewska; someone extraordinarily intelligent and ambitious, warm, generous, social, and at the same time ambiguous, difficult, argumentative, and lonely. The film poses the question: did Czyszewska foul up her career by coming to the United States, as a moment when she was at the height of her career in Poland? Or were her chances ruined because of her alcoholism? Where did her self-destruction come from? Constructed in line with the principles of a feature film, “Actress” takes the viewer step by step to ponder the ancient tragedy of the life of an actress.
KINGA DĘBSKA, MARIA KONWICKA
ZBIGNIEW DOMAGALSKI, JANUSZ SKAŁKOWSKI
HEAD OF PRODUCTION
STUDIO FILMOWE KALEJDOSKOP, TELEWIZJA POLSKA S.A.
POLSKI INSTYTUT SZTUKI FILMOWEJ
Introduced by Annette Insdorf, Film Professor, Columbia University
Q&A with film director Kinga Dębska after the screening
With great visual poetry, ‘Joanna’ portrays the simple and meaningful moments in the life of her family. Diagnosed with untreatable illness, Joanna promises her son that she will do her best to live for as long as possible. It is a story of close relationships, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness.
The film was shot by one of the most talented young cinematographers Łukasz Żal, and the music was composed by Oscar-winning Jan A.P. Kaczmarek.
ANETA KOPACZ, TOMASZ ŚREDNIAWA
ANETA KOPACZ, PAWEŁ LASKOWSKI PSM, RAFAŁ SAMBORSKI PSM
JACEK HAMELA, MICHAŁ KAWIAK
POLISH FILM INSTITUTE, WAJDA SCHOOL FOUNDATION
NATIONAL AUDIOVISUAL INSTITUTE
2013, Poland, 40’
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