83 Zlota Street

Somewhat stodgy but studded with delicious scenes like raisins in a Christmas pudding, documentary "83 Zlota Street" peeks into the crumbling apartments and lives of residents at a Warsaw tenement scheduled for demolition. Documaker Ewa Borzecka ("Women and Men's Affairs") captures the kooky side of the mostly down-and-out denizens at the titular address as they fight a losing battle against eviction.

With:
With: Henio Szostek, Stenia Hellich, Mireczek Bulinski, Iwonka Czuba, Henio Jacha, Alicja Wesner, Ela Florczak.

Somewhat stodgy but studded with delicious scenes like raisins in a Christmas pudding, documentary “83 Zlota Street” peeks into the crumbling apartments and lives of residents at a Warsaw tenement scheduled for demolition. Award-winning TV-documaker Ewa Borzecka (“Women and Men’s Affairs”) affectionately captures the kooky side of the mostly down-and-out denizens at the titular address as they fight a losing battle against eviction. Although too rickety in structure for theatrical distribution, pic will lodge comfortably on upmarket TV and cable doc slots.

Shown without voiceover narration or much in the way of explanatory subtitles apart from introducing the cast at the beginning, pic seems to cover a summer-to-winter period as it tracks its subjects.

Mireczka “Mirek” Bulinskiege claims to be of noble birth, and lives in a filthy studio crammed literally to the ceiling with junk, dust and mementos. He’s also the keeper of the only key to the communal toilet, the key prop in a very funny sequence where his dinner is constantly interrupted by visitors asking to borrow the key.

Other characters include former boxer Henia Szostka; girlish matron Stenie Hellich; ex-con Henia Jacha who once slit a man’s throat; his sometime g.f., Iwonke Czube; faded good-time girl Ele Florczak; and well-to-do Alicje Wesner, aka the Baroness. Last’s spacious, music-filled four-bedroom apartment is an island of bourgeois order amid 83 Zlota’s sea of chaos.

What passes for plot is told through a combination of interviews with subjects who reveal small slices of their own histories, and more static sequences where they just go about their business. Despite the grimness, pic has a generally comic tone, instanced particularly well in a sequence where Jacha bangs on a misbehaving TV set for several real-time minutes until he finally gets a picture.

Running time could easily shed 20-30 minutes of corridor trudging and banter. Marcin Peresada’s DV-lensing is jittery, while sound recording is a bit on the murky side. Transfer to film is not so hot.

83 Zlota Street

Poland

Production: A Telewizja Polska, Smietanka & Syn, WIR Film Studios production. (International sales: WIR, Warsaw.) Produced by Pawel Smietanka, Executive producers, Jacek Szota, Barbara Lawska. Directed, written by Ewa Borzecka.

Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Marcin Peresada; editor, Agnieszka Bojanowska, Marek Wiezien; music, Janusz Grzywacz; sound (Dolby SR), Grzegorz Nawara, Michal Zarnecki, Marcin Pilich. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing, documentary), July 6, 2004. Running time: 117 MIN.

With: With: Henio Szostek, Stenia Hellich, Mireczek Bulinski, Iwonka Czuba, Henio Jacha, Alicja Wesner, Ela Florczak.

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