Announcing Madison Polish Film Festival 2021

After an online edition in 2020, the Madison Polish Film Festival returns to its traditional, in-person format with an eclectic selection of the latest in Polish cinematography. This year, the festival will take place on November 14 and 21 at the Marquee Cinema and UW Cinematheque on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. All screenings are FREE and OPEN to the public. Join us to celebrate Poland’s vibrant and universally recognized cinematic tradition!

Leave no Traces (dir. Jan P. Matuszyński) Sweat (dir. Magnus von Horn) Kill It and Leave This Town (dir. Mariusz Wilczyński) Back Then (dir. Kinga Dębska)

The 2021 edition of the Madison Polish Film Festival will take place on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on two consecutive Sundays before Thanksgiving – November 14 and November 21. Traditionally, all screenings will be FREE and open to the wider public and local community beyond UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff. Everyone is welcome! Zapraszamy na festiwal!

PLEASE NOTE: In line with the university campus masking policy, all students, employees, and visitors to campus are required to wear masks when inside campus buildings.


The 2021 selection for the Madison Polish Film Festival includes:

Sweat (dir. Magnus von Horn, 2020) | Running time: 107 min
Sunday, November 14, 3:00 pm
Marquee Cinema, Union South
Room 245 (2nd floor), 308 W Dayton St, Madison

Sweat (dir. Magnus von Horn)


Beloved fitness influencer Sylwia seemingly has it made: hundreds of thousands of social media followers, endorsement deals, photo spreads in magazines. But as she starts to share more and more online, the rising pressure from concerned sponsors and increasingly obsessive fans forces her to confront her deepest insecurities and the exhaustive demands of her lifestyle (Rotten Tomatoes).



Kill It and Leave This Town (dir. Mariusz Wilczyński, 2020)
Polish title: Zabij to i wyjedź z tego miasta | Running time: 88 min
Sunday, November 14, 5:30 pm
Marquee Cinema, Union South
Room 245 (2nd floor), 308 W Dayton St, Madison

Kill It and Leave This Town (dir. Mariusz Wilczyński)


Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, a man hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are still alive (IMDb).



Back Then (dir. Kinga Dębska, 2021) | Polish title: Zupa nic | Running time: 94 min
Sunday, November 21, 2:30 pm
UW Cinematheque
Vilas Communication Hall, 821 University Ave, Madison

Back Then (dir. Kinga Dębska)


Marta is a romantic and a school victim of fate. She shares a room with her sister Kasia and grandmother, who tells her granddaughters insurgent stories instead of fairy tales. In the room behind the wall, my parents – Tadek and Elżbieta – live their married life. He is a constantly humiliated intelligent by the system who silently envies his prosperous brother-in-law. She is the president of the company’s “Solidarity” with the need for freedom and a dream to finally break out of Poland. However, the real emotions for the whole family will start when the dream orange Fiat 126p stands under the block. It will turn out to be an unexpected catapult to the big world – the family will go to Lake Balaton in a tiny Fiat 126p with luggage on the roof. Ela and Tadek will discover a vocation to trade and travel abroad, and the growing up Marta will fall in love again (IMDb).



Leave no Traces (dir. Jan P. Matuszyński, 2021)
Polish title: Żeby nie było śladów | Running time: 160 min
Sunday, November 21, 4:30 pm
UW Cinematheque
Vilas Communication Hall, 821 University Ave, Madison

Leave no Traces (dir. Jan P. Matuszyński)


Poland, 1983. The country is shaken by the case of Grzegorz Przemyk – a high school student beaten to death by militia. Based on true events, the film follows the story of Jurek – the only witness of the beating, who overnight became the number one enemy of the state. The oppressive regime used its whole apparatus – the secret service, militia, the media, and the courts – to squeeze Jurek and other people close to the case, including his parents and Przemyk’s mother, Barbara (Rotten Tomatoes).



Sunday, November 14 screenings

On the first Sunday of the festival (November 14), the screenings will take place at the Marquee Cinema at Union South. Home of film on the UW-Madison campus, the cinema is located on the second floor of the Union South and seats 330 viewers. The Marquee features a state-of-the-art sound system and an HD projection system.

Location and parking

The Marquee Cinema is located in Room 245 on 1308 West Dayton Street in Madison. Parking is available on lots 80 (Union South Garage), 17, and 20, in addition to numerous UW and City of Madison parking options. The Marquee is located close to bus routes 2, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 28, 38, 44, 48, 70, 72, 80.

For more information on South Union parking, visit this guide. For a guest user guide, see this booklet. To find the best bus route, visit the Madison Metro Transit trip planning guide.

Sunday, November 21 screenings

On the second Sunday of the festival (November 21), the screenings will take place a short walk from the Marquee at the UW Cinematheque. The Cinematheque serves the Greater Madison Area community by showcasing the best international films and other films that would not reach larger screens. With one of the finest projection facilities, the Cinematheque provides an excellent viewing experience thanks to its support of multiple high-definition video formats.

Location and parking

The Cinematheque is located in Room 4070 on the fourth floor of Vilas Hall, 821 University Avenue in Madison (south-east corner of the Park Street and University Avenue intersection). Room 4070 is accessible from Park Street (elevator and stairs) and the stairs facing University Avenue and University Square. Parking is available on the Lake and Park Street lot, Johnson and Lake Street lot, the Fluno Center underground lot on Frances Street, in addition to numerous UW and City of Madison parking options. The Cinematheque is located close to bus routes 2, 7, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 28, 38, 70, 72, 80, 81, 82.

For more information on UW Cinematheque parking, visit this guide. To find the best bus route, visit the Madison Metro Transit trip planning guide.

Celebrating Polish cinema at UW–Madison since 1991

The annual Madison Polish Film Festival is co-organized by the UW–Madison Polish Studies program and the Polish Student Association in collaboration with the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+ (GNS+), Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Film Committee, and the Polish Heritage Club, Madison–Wisconsin. Inaugurated in 1991 by our longstanding Polish language lecturer Dr. Ewa Miernowska, the festival has quickly become an annual celebration of Polish cinema. Since then, it has attracted hundreds of viewers each year and is now a major cultural event at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Greater Madison Area.


Read also:

Chopin and the Caribbean: Film & Music Event in Madison Explores Composer’s Unknown Connection to the Americas

Lapinski Scholarship Winners Highlight Importance of Polish Language in Connecting with Family and Building Communities

Polish Student Association Offers a Menu of Activities for Students Hungry for Polish Culture

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UW–Madison Polish Studies Program

Educating the Wisconsin public about the Polish language, literature, and culture since 1936.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Polish Studies Program is the oldest academic program in the United States focused on the study and teaching of the Polish language, literature, and culture. UW–Madison Polish studies offer a comprehensive package of Polish language, literature, and culture courses, a generous scholarship program designed exclusively for its students, and various extracurricular activities each academic year.

The program, dating back to 1935, offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced Polish language courses, in addition to intensive Polish courses for heritage speakers and (under)graduate students. In 2011, the program received the prestigious Polonicum Award Distinction from the University of Warsaw for its achievements in promoting the Polish language and knowledge about Polish culture and history. The UW–Madison Polish program also offers a broad range of Polish culture courses on Polish film, contemporary Polish culture, Polish migration to the Americas, a survey of Polish culture from the Middle Ages to modern times, Polish comedy culture, and post-communism.

Each year, the UW Polish program awards scholarships for tuition through the Lapinski fund to undergraduate and graduate students studying the Polish language, literature, and culture. The Polish Student Association (PSA) provides a space for all students interested in events, activities, and learning about Poland and Polish culture. In collaboration with the Polish program faculty, the PSA also co-organizes the Madison Polish Film Festival, an annual celebration of Polish cinematography in Madison, Wisconsin, now in its 31st edition.