Klub Kultury im. Heleny Modrzejewskiej
Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club

 

 

MODJESKA - WOMAN TRIUMPHANT
Premiera filmu Barbary Myszyńskiej

13 września 2009

On the 13th of September, 2009 at the Silent Theater in Hollywood on Fairfax Ave., the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles presented the premiere of a wonderful full-length documentary film "Modjeska—Woman Triumphant,” by film director Barbara Myszynski and her husband/cinematographer Leonard Myszynski.

The film is about conquest; “attaining the unattainable;” about the life of an artist missionary; the American journey of the nineteenth century iconic Polish actress Helena Modjeska as she builds her own persona one step at a time to later become an icon on the American stage. It’s about her earliest impressions, influences, conflicts, and desires as she leaves her war-torn Poland to become the voice of Poland and the voice of women—the dignified, the fallen, and the conflicted. It is a journey about faith and compassion. Modjeska was a muse for world-class artists—inspiring composer Ignacy Paderewski, American author Willa Cather and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Shakespearean actors Edwin Booth and Maurice Barrymore as well as Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz. Adored and admired for her beauty and nobility, she never forgot her true nature and the influence of Mother Nature on her art. It is a film about California, utopian living, and artistic freedom. Symbolically, the “Forest of Arden” in Orange County became her beloved sanctuary. Based on Modjeska’s letters, memoirs, biographies, and interviews with scholars and descendants, the stylized documentary tells the story of one woman’s commitment to her self, to her Shakespeare, to her family, to her “countries”—Poland and USA, and to humanity through her art.

Film director and cinematographer Barbara and Leonard Myszynski graduated from the National Film Academy in Lodz, Poland. They live and work in California.

After the showing, Barbara explained to the audience some of the details about making the film and what Modjeska meant to her personally. Barbara said, "The making of our stylized documentary was truly a six-year labor of love for its Polish-American filmmakers, culminating on the 100th anniversary of Modjeska's death in 2009! Our story incorporates silent film footage, over 15 hours of interviews with Modjeska scholars (both Polish and American), historians, theatre directors, and descendants, including over 300 archival photographs as well as symbolic recreations. Due to the fact that no actual footage of Modjeska was ever discovered and we were dealing with the 1800's, we decided to stylize the film with symbolic impressions of Modjeska through objects of diffusion, such as glass, veils, and elements in nature rather than attempt to replicate performances that no living person has ever witnessed. Nor did we want to misrepresent the iconic Modjeska. Every shot was unified in post-production to match 19th century photography and early filmmaking."

Cinematographer/producer/editor Leonard Myszynski, Barbara's husband as cinematographer and partner in filmmaking, created an amazing work. Leonard, a native of Poland, was born in a photography studio, where he produced his first body of work. As a graduate of Cinematography at the National Film Academy in Poland, he was immediately recognized for his artistry—stunning visuals enhanced by sensual lighting, distinctive camera angles, and provoking compositions. His insight, problem-solving capabilities, and diverse experience combined with a deep passion for fine art have enabled him to produce powerful ad campaigns and film content throughout his career. Additionally, he has an uncanny eye for editing and special effects, as seen in the film about Helena Modjeska and in many of his productions. He has worked on every major film/video project that Barbara, his partner, has directed and co-edited, creating the look and overall design.

"I also wanted to personalize the film," said film director Barbara Myszynski, "to show the inner worlds that haunted Modjeska identified through texts taken from her own memoirs, by using the emotional voice of a contemporary ‘Queen of Polish Theatre’ Danuta Stenka." 

Born in California, filmmaker Barbara Myszynski pursued an interest in Theatre Arts, graduating with a BA in Drama from the University of California, Irvine. She traveled throughout Europe, performing her own self-directed one-woman plays on the Polish stage. She received her MFA in filmmaking at the National Film Academy in Lodz, Poland, where she met Leonard, her partner and collaborator. Winning recognition at International Film Festivals, together they produced short films in Europe, followed by the creation of Solar Eye Communications in the USA, a commercial photography and production company.

Beautiful music for the film was written by young Polish composer Mikolaj Stroinski. The music deepened the cinematic experience enhancing the story and bringing out the romantic soul of Helena Modjeska.

Barbara said, "In my eyes Modjeska was a romantic realist of great power and grace. The film represents the journey of her soul, her poetic nature and gentility (her ‘Arden’) juxtaposed by her continual drive upward and onward (exemplified by the steam engine train, the ‘Iron Horse’). Modjeska crossed cultures, continents, classes and status. She was the voice of Poland, its 'artist missionary,’ so beautifully expressed by Duke University professor Beth Holmgren, a key scholar in the documentary. She was a voice for all women. There is nothing more sacred to me than nobility and compassion. Modjeska represented both." Barbara added.

At the end of meeting with Helena Modjeska Club members, Myszynski said, "I am proud that our film is the first full-length documentary made about the distinguished Helena Modjeska! I am also honored that the Modjeska Art and Culture Club of Los Angeles presented its world premiere at the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood."
Film “Modjeska—Woman Triumphant” was produced by OC Influential Productions, LLC in association with GetBizzy Entertainment, Inc. and created by Barbara and Leonard Myszynski in 2009.
The film was exhibited at the Polish Film Festival in Toronto. It has also been accepted into the Polish Film Festival of America in Chicago and the Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival, both to be screened in November of 2009. The film was also shown in Krakow for an exhibition organized by the History of Krakow Museum and will be exhibited at the closing of the Modjeska exhibit in Teatr Wielki Theatre Museum in January 2010.

Jadwiga Inglis

 

Visit the web site dedicatied to this movie!