The Northern Ireland premiere of an Oscar-nominated film about the massacre of thousands of Polish soldiers during World War 2 and a workshop run by one of Poland's most respected writers are just some of the events being staged in Belfast next week as part of Polish Cultural Week.
The annual seven-day event has been organised by the Artlinks — an association set up by the Link Polska magazine and the Polish Association NI and supported by the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh — to showcase and celebrate Polish culture.
Currently there are around 35,000 Poles living in Northern Ireland, 12,000 of those live in Belfast. There are also around 200,000 living in the Republic of Ireland.
Aneta Patriak from Link Polska magazine explained the festival, which is in it's third year and is being held as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, has proved popular with locals and Polish nationals in the past and this year organisers were hoping to get an even bigger turnout.
"Last year we had around 4000 Poles participate in cultural week," she said. "We also had so many Irish people take part, it was wonderful. This year we want more more Irish people to get involved that is why we decided for the first time to put everything in English, to encourage more locals to become involved. We have also put a link on the DiscoverNorthernIreland.com website as well. We would love to have more locals come along, they will get to know our culture and see things in our language too."
One of the highlights of the festival will be the Northern Ireland premiere of Katyn, the Oscar-nominated film by Polish director Andrzej Wajda, this Friday, May 23.
This courageous film, which is part of the Polish Film Festival being staged at QFT, has been described as a tribute to the memory of the thousands of Polish officers who were massacred by the Red Army during WW2 including Wajda's own father. The film's excellent performances combined with chilling archive footage helped to earn the celebrated director his fourth Oscar nomination earlier this year.
Another highlight of the festival will be a creative writing workshop with one of Poland's most respected poets, journalists and photographers, Agnieszka Klos.
The talented author, who was awarded the Polish Culture Minister Stipendium, is a working journalist, art critic, lecturer at the Dolnoslaki Institute in Wroclaw and is the deputy manager for the Rita Baun art association. Other events being held during Polish Cultural Week include a series of lectures and film screenings.For further information visit www.polishculturalweek.com.