The light in the screening room dims, so you can barely see your neighbors sitting beside you on simple folding chairs. After a while you hear the first notes of the piano, and then the screen lights up with black and white pictures. It could be one of the cinemas in the silent movie era – but in fact it is one of the meetings of the Rotunda Discussion Film Club. The Polish Film Institute has recently named Rotunda the best discussion film club in the country.
Film club president Marta Chwalek’s office is near the top of a series of staircases in the Rotunda Community Center. She hefts the club’s recent award – a large figurine of what looks like the 10th Muse. “Much heavier than you’d expect,” she laughed.
This year was the first time the Polish Film Institute Awards have been given out. The idea is to honor those who are usually in the background, nevertheless make an important contribution to the promotion of cinematography in Poland, such as journalists, writers, educators, distributors – and film clubs. Besides its prestige, the award is also a nice cash injection to the club’s budget. As the judges did not specify what factors they considered in giving the Rotunda Film Club its award, club officials could only guess. One consideration might have been that no other film club in Poland is as significant as Rotunda.
“Apart from the Etiuda & Anima festival, we often organize events that tour cities across Poland,” Zmudzinski said.
The club’s next meeting, at 6 p.m. March 4, will start with Zmudzinski discussing Movie Pictures – Creative Intuition. Then there will be a screening of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky, starring John Malkovich and Debra Winger.
The rest of March will feature events including lectures, silent movies with live music, and a night marathon of Akira Kurosawa’s films.
The Rotunda Community Center, where the film club’s meetings are held, is at ul. Oleandry 1. Tickets to the meetings can be bought in the Center’s ticket office one hour before the screenings. For the exact program, visit www.rotunda.pl or www.etiudaandanima.com.