Sundance Award Winning Film Director & Media Entrepreneur.
Old Days Rebel-New Days Visionary. Futuristic Timeless Misfit. Lecturer, Teacher, Mentor, Curator.
Founder FilmArtPlanet & FilmArtMovies, with of an exciting slate of new projects.
Rafal Zielinski has directed close to 30 feature films (some which he also produced), 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 latest feature is TIGER WITHIN (written by Gina Wendkos), an inspiring story about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and a skinhead 14 year old girl. The film underwent as self-financed campaign for Best Picture and Best Actor (Ed Asner) in the recent Academy Awards race, and has premiered at close to 50 festivals in the Jewish FIlm Festival circuit, due to its inspiring message of forgiveness, and Holocaust theme, and was picked up my Menensha Films, for a theatrical run slated for this year.
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 most recent 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”.
Rafal is currently developing preparing 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 ECSTASY, a young-love story, as well as a multitude of
Rafal’s dream since childhood has been to make films that can reach a wide international audience, that are both entertaining and illuminating while simultaneously provocative and consciousness expanding.
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.
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.
The unlikely friendship between Samuel, an elderly, lonely Holocaust survivor and Casey, an angry teen runaway sex worker with a bad attitude and a swastika on her leather jacket, is the premise of “Tiger Within,” a redemptive story about the power of forgiveness and unconditional love to transform lives and overcome ignorance, fear and hate in our divided world. Ed Asner (91) and newcomer Margot Josefsohn (14) star in the absorbing micro-budget underdog,written by Gina Wendkos (“The Princess Diaries,” and “Coyote Ugly”).
Director for Hire: Comedy
Rafal took a detour in his career by directing a number of films for Roger Corman.
“It was my film-school working in the commercial for-profit underbelly of Hollywood, and taught me how to make films on micro-budgets and tight schedules, while trying to inject them with artistry if at all possible.
They were questionable stories and themes, and I felt shamed to have to sink so low, but some consider them now cult classics.
The were also a great foundation for making some of the no-budget indie films that established me as an art-house film-festival circuit indie filmmaker.”
Director for Hire: Genre
“As an outsider trying to break into the mainstream studio system, I got trapped into the world of b movies, but at least they paid the rent”.
Director for Hire: Television
“I focused on feature films, but occasionally was invited to direct episodes. I wish I had continued in this world, as it would have been an entry into the current renaissance of streaming and serialized entertainment”.