Rafal Zielinski has directed over 20 feature films ranging from award-winning independent films (where his heart truly lies) to more mainstream Hollywood projects and television.
His early years were spent in Eastern Europe. While in grade school he was lucky to travel several times around the world and gain 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 was fortunate to attend the prestigious 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 M.I.T. with a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design focusing on the new field of art and technology and studied cinéma-vérité documentary film-making with veteran Richard Leacock.
After graduating from M.I.T. 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, Rafal 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 theatre 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.
FUN 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, Edinburgh, Munich, Vienna, London, Cambridge, Stockholm, Sao 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.
GINGER ALE AFTERNOON premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Skouras Pictures for domestic theatrical release in the United States.
DOWNTOWN: a street tale, filmed in New York City, stars Genevieve Bujold, Joey Dedio. And John Savage, recently received it’s world premiere at the AFI Film Festival.
His latest two indie films are BOHEMIA, a love story set in Prague starring Troy Garity (Fonda) (“Bandits”, “Soldier’s Tale”, “Barbershop”) and upcoming Czech star Klara Issova and AGE OF KALI, written by Los Angeles playwright John Steppling, as 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 highly successful Roger Corman financed “Screwballs” (which generated three sequels which Rafal 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 focusing on several projects: TIGER WITHIN (written by Gina Wendkos), an inspiring story about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and a skinhead 15 year old girl, ALIENS, an innovative large-scale science fiction romance, and BARDO, an illuminating story based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead as well as two micro-budget productions: MIA, a music film and EUPHORIA, a young-love story.
Rafal’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.
Selected Feature Credits:
HEY BABE – Producer/Director/Writer – Carolco Pictures (Canadian)
A teen musical starring Buddy Hackett and Yasmine Bleeth. The film shot in Montreal premiered at the Filmex and Taormina Film Festival and was shown at the Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals. It was sold exclusively to Showtime in the U.S.
GINGER ALE AFTERNOON – Director/Producer – Skouras Pictures (US)
A romantic comedy based on a play by Gina Wendkos, about one day in a trailer park couple’s life as they await the birth of their first child. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received theatrical release through Skouras Pictures.
FUN – Producer/Director/Writer – Lions Gate (Canada)
A psychological drama inspired by true events about two young girls who meet one day and murder an old lady for “fun”. Through a series of interrogations with a prison psychiatrist and a magazine reporter the deep roots of child abuse and neglect that led to such a monstrous and senseless crime are uncovered. Winner of two Jury prizes at the Sundance Film Festival 1994 for best acting. Shown subsequently at over 25 international festivals. US and Canadian theatrical release.
HANGMAN’S CURSE (2005) Director – Twentieth Century Fox
A family mystery based on the Frank Peretti novel. Ralph Winter Productions/Namesake entertainment.
DOWNTOWN: A STREET TALE – Director
A tale of hope, triumph and inevitable tragedy about a group of twenty-something-year-olds living in an abandoned building in New York City, starring academy award nominee Genevieve Bujold, John Savage, Burt Young and Joey de Dio.
BOHEMIA – Producer/Director/Writer
A haunting love story set in Prague and Los Angeles, starring Troy Garity (“Soldier’s Tale”, “Barbershop”, “Bandits”) and Klara Issova (“Angel Exit”), Will Stewart (“Dogwalker”) and Jana Kolesarova.
AGE OF KALI – Producer/Director
A dark psychological study of decadence and illumination in contemporary Los Angeles, written by “LA’s quintessential” playwright John Steppling.
Director for Hire: Comedy
Director for Hire: Genre
Director for Hire: Television