8:40am - flight departs los angeles (LAX)
6:50pm - flight departs new york (JFK)
sat, nov 29
9:40am - flight arrives in warsaw (WAW)
12:30pm - arrive in lodz by shuttle
4:00pm - opening ceremonies at camerimage film festival
an amusing sidebar on the flight from new york to warsaw. the gentleman sitting next to me opted for a polish beer called zywiec. since i'm quite the aficionado, i asked him how to pronounce the name in case i wanted to order it any time in the future. he didn't understand a lick of english, and neither did the lady sitting next to him, so it was a pretty quiet trip the rest of the way, ha ha.
upon arrival in warsaw, i followed the placard with 'camerimage' on it, and the next thing i know, i was standing next to dante spinotti (DP of 'heat' and 'last of the mohicans'), john toll ('braveheart,' 'thin red line'), our wonderful client steven rosenblum (E of 'braveheart' and 'the last samurai') and michael barrett ('bobby' and the upcoming 'bedtime stories'). 3 vehicles transported us to lodz (pronounced woodge), an hour-and-a-half ride out from warsaw, where we arrived at the hotel centrum - the only place where all of the guests stay.
since i opted for the festival's homestay program, my host marta (a director in her own right in the fashion and film world) was a bit late in picking me up because her car broke down earlier in the day. we stopped for coffee - where i actually had hot chocolate w/chili - and to pick up polish SIM cards (for me and my bosses, who would arrive on wed, dec 3) before heading to her place to drop off luggage.
and by 'place' i mean a sweet artist's loft, which you would never guess. most of the buildings in lodz are hundreds of years old, as it was a booming textile industry in the mid 1800's before declining in 1990. but the cool thing is all of these buildings are immaculately kept despite the roughed up exterior.
i didn't have time to change, so i showed up at the opening ceremony as is. i managed to snap a photo w/legendary DP vilmos zsigmond ('deliverance,' 'close encounters of the third kind') next to his portrait! at the ceremony, they introduced a few of the jury members and presented an award to DP roger deakins ('the shawshank redemption,' 'no country for old men') before screening 'doubt,' the opening night film. since i had already attended the LA premiere, marta picked me up from the theatre and we grabbed a drink at a nearby bar called lodz kaliska, which is a red-tinted joint in the art district spanning three floors (dancing on the upper two). we caught the 8:30pm screening of 'w' (again, i had already seen before), which DP phedon papamichael introduced, then headed to a pizzeria for dinner at 11pm.
the pizzerias here are a tad different from their american counterparts: they serve tomato sauce (and ranch dressing) in little pourable jars on the side, rather than cooked in to the pizza. i picked the one that said bacon, realizing that bacon in poland is basically ham, so that was my first experience in not trusting the english translation when it comes to food. also, the water here isn't tap or sparkling - it's gas or no gas. around midnight, we walked next door to kaliska to grab a drink and i got to meet a few of marta's friends. anna is an austrian DP fluent in japanese and chinese, DPs marcus (austria), valentin (cologne, germany) and jun (england, and the only other asian in the entire bar). the place was so packed the six of us were crammed in a cubby hole between the bar and a table, but it was really fun learning about everybody's country and culture.
we retreat back to her pad at 2:45am, where i was flat out exhausted. keep in mind that i had traveled the entire day before, then arrived in poland in the morning, so i had to hit the ground running...