Everything's Coming Up Polish

Highlights from the fifth annual Austin Polish Film Festival

Rabbit à la Berlin
"Rabbit à la Berlin"

How do you put a new spin on an oft-told history? Make a rabbit the lead. That's what Polish filmmaker Bartek Konopka did in his masterful "Rabbit à la Berlin," which screens as part of the fifth annual Austin Polish Film Festival this Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7:40pm at the Texas Spirit Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. One of last year's Oscar nominees for Best Documentary (Short Subject), the 51-minute "Rabbit à la Berlin" reframes Germany's post-war restructuring as a fable told from the point of view of the wild rabbits who were trapped in Potsdamer Platz as the Berlin Wall went up around it. It may sound cutesy – and gosh, Fräuleins Flopsy and Mopsy are awfully cute – but this chilling allegory isn't for tots. (No worries: APFF has a whole free program set aside for the kiddies with its Anthology of Polish Children's Animation on Saturday, Nov. 13, 12:30-4pm, at the Howson Branch Library, with healthy snacks provided.)

Borys Lankosz's opening-night film, Reverse, also tackles the aftermath of World War II, albeit through a decidedly different approach. (Reverse screens Friday, Nov. 5, at 7pm at the Texas Spirit Theater.) This delectably weird study of post-war Warsaw seamlessly moves between hard-boiled noir and dark whimsy in its story of a loveless woman who accidentally falls in with an agent of the secret police. Reverse, a critical and box-office smash in its homeland, won eight prizes at the Polish Film Awards, breaking the previous record held by Roman Polanski's The Pianist.

The polarizing Polanski also makes an appearance during APFF – well, his early short films will, at least, in a special program co-sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and the Unsound Festival. The event, which takes place on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 7pm at the Alamo Ritz, will pair vintage 35mm prints of Polanski's shorts from the Fifties and Sixties with live musical accompaniment by Polish multi-instrumentalist duo Sza/Za.

The Austin Polish Film Festival runs Nov. 5-14. See www.austinpolishsociety.org for complete lineup and ticket info.

Streetwise: Polish Film Posters will run concurrently with the festival at 912 Congress, with an opening reception on Thursday, Nov. 4, 6-8pm and daily viewing hours from noon to 5pm through Nov. 13. Free.

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Austin Polish Film Festival, Rabbit à la Berlin, Bartek Konopka, Reverse, Borys Lankosz, Roman Polanksi Sza / Za, Streetwise: Polish Film Posters

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