Rafal Zielinski

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Rafal Zielinski
Born 1957
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Film director
Website www.rafalzielinski.info

Rafal Zielinski (born 1957 in Montreal) is an independent filmmaker[1] He is best known for directing films such as Fun (Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award),[2] Ginger Ale Afternoon,[3] Hey Babe!,[4] Hangman's Curse, Downtown: A Street Tale, National Lampoon's Last Resort and the "King of the B Movies" Roger Corman produced Screwballs and its several sequels. He studied under filmmaker Richard Leacock, one of the pioneers of direct cinema and Cinéma Vérité at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he graduated with a B.S. in Art and Design. On several of his independent films he is credited both as a director, producer and writer and on occasion as "Rafael Zelinsky" and/or "Rafal Haimovitz".[5]

His early years were spent in Eastern Europe. Born of a Polish father, an engineer and a pioneer in pre-fabricated housing, and mother of Jewish roots, an architect, his childhood was spend in several countries where his father worked for the Ford Foundation. While in grade-school he travelled several times around the world and gained a global perspective, an 8mm camera always at his eye. He was schooled in North America, the Middle East and the Orient.

During high-school he attended Stowe School in England where he received the Duke of Edinburgh Award enabling him to make his first documentary film about the temples in Southern India.

He went on to graduate from MIT with a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design focusing on the new field of art and technology (participated in projects at the Media Lab), and studied cinéma-vérité documentary film-making with Richard Leacock.

After graduating from MIT he went on to direct several award-winning documentaries, gradually moving towards drama and becoming more and more interested in story-telling.

As an independent filmmaker, Zielinski has always generated his own projects either by creating an original story that he was passionate about then collaborating with several screenwriters or adapting works from the theater in collaboration with the respective playwright. On most of the independent films that he directed he also served as his own producer often producing through his own company.

His first feature Hey Babe opened the Taormina Film Festival, and showed at Toronto, Montreal and AFI Film Festival.[4]

Fun[2] premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received two Special Jury Awards for Acting Achievement and went on to show at the Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver as well as other international film festivals including Sydney, Edinbrough, Munich, Vienna, London, Cambridge, Stockholm, São Paulo, Hawaii, Hamburg, Rimini, Mill Valley, San Jose, Warsaw, Oslo and Wales. The film opened theatrically at the Film Forum in New York and received two nominations for Best Newcomer Performance and Best First Screenplay for IFP Spirit Awards.[citation needed]

Ginger Ale Afternoon[3] also premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Skouras Pictures for domestic theatrical release in the United States.[citation needed]

Downtown: a street tale, filmed in New York City, stars Geneviève Bujold, Joey Dedio, and John Savage, and received its world premiere at the AFI Film Festival.

His latest[when?] two indie films are Bohemia,[6] a love story set in Prague starring Troy Garity (Fonda) (Bandits, Soldier’s Tale, Barbershop) and Czech actress Klara Issova and Age of Kali,[7] written by Los Angeles playwright John Steppling (playwright), a dark psychological study of decadence and illumination set in Los Angeles.

In the mainstream arena he has directed numerous popular genre projects ranging from the Roger Corman financed Screwballs (which generated three sequels which Zielinski directed as well), to Fox Searchlight’s Frank Peretti written Hangman’s Curse, in which he gave Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) her first starring role, as well as numerous TV shows such as “Highlander” and “Poltergeist”.

He is currently[when?] focusing on three projects: Tiger Within (written by Gina Wendkos),[8] a story about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and a teen skin head girl, ALieNS,[9] a large-scale science fiction romance, and Bardo, a life-after-death story based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Zielinski's dream since childhood has been to make films that can reach billions of people, that are both highly entertaining while simultaneously being deep and consciousness expanding – he is convinced that these three new projects have the potential to achieve these goals.

I originally set out to make illuminating, consciousness-expanding, globally entertaining movies that would change the world, and I guess I was naive, because the universe challenged me instead with a lesser-two-fold path: on the one hand a series of low budget independent art house films that I had to end up producing myself and that went around the film festival merry-go-around…while on the other a string of works-for-hire, which I tried to elevate as much as possible within the limitations given. I hope to change all of that and get back to the original afore-mentioned goal, before it is not too late.

— Rafal Zielinski, filmartplanet.com





  1. "Little Tin God" (1996)
  2. "Money No Object" (1996)
  1. "Lights Out!" (1997)