POLISH FILM MAGAZINE 1 (6)|2018
Szumowska and her Mug in the Main Competition
Polish talents shine at 68. Berlinale
Netflix makes first TV series in Poland
©© MARCIN KUŁAKOWSKI / PISF, FILM COMMISSION POLAND; COVER: © MAREK SZCZEPAŃSKI; COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL/EAST NEWS
In 2017, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Polish animation, which wonderfully coincided with several global successes on the part of Polish animators. The phenomenal Loving Vincent, directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, won the European Film Award for the best full-length animation, and the audience award at the Annency Film Festival. I believe that this is only the beginning of the worldwide success of this film, and that it will be a serious contender for a BAFTA Award and an Oscar. At last year’s Berlinale, Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor won the Silver Bear, and Zofia Wichłacz was named a Shooting Star. Birds Are Singing in Kigali, a deeply moving film directed by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze, received many accolades, including a Best Actress Award for Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuchire at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The short film The Best Fireworks Ever, directed by Aleksandra Terpińska, won the Rails d’Or and the Canal+ Award at the Cannes Film Festival. 2017 was also a highly successful year for Polish documentary filmmakers, with Communion, directed by Anna Zamecka, picking up a European Film Award. Another Polish documentary, The Prince and the Dybukk, directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, received a Venice Classics Award for the Best Documentary on Cinema. It is especially gratifying to see that Polish venues, as well as Polish films and filmmakers, are winning awards. Two Kraków cinemas, Agrafka and KIKA, were presented with a EUROPA CINEMAS prize in the Best Young Audience Activities category. Polish cinema is a solid brand, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us. One of our top priorities in the years ahead is to consolidate and build on the status Polish cinema internationally.
The Berlinale is a very important festival for Polish filmmakers. Małgorzata Szumowska celebrates her third entry into the Main Competition with her much anticipated film Mug (read our interview with the director on page 8). Poland has a strong presence on the official program, with 5 films either produced or co-produced by Poland (pages 12-17). From Film Commission Poland’s perspective, 2017 was an important year for the domestic film industry. Ticket sales for local productions went up again to reach more than 13.5 million admissions (see page 31). Three Polish films were among the Top 5 annual box office grossing films, holding the top two places, ahead of the best performing Hollywood blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and once more accounting for about 25% market share. More importantly, however, we witnessed a great deal of interest in our country as a shooting destination again in 2017. Polish cities and landscapes were chosen as a backdrop for historical, modern, science-fiction, and fantasy films made by producers from the United States, France, Germany, Denmark and India. Thanks to our unique locations (more on pages 32-37) and the high level of expertise on the part of our producers, we managed to attract more foreign TV series productions as well. Two Netflix series, both produced in Poland, are among the most anticipated international TV projects announced for 2018. The first is a thriller directed by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik, and the other is an adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s book The Witcher, with Poland’s top animation and VFX company, Platige Image, on board (read more on page 18). Last but not least, the Polish film industry is still waiting for the introduction of the film incentives. We believe the 25% cash rebate scheme will further strengthen the local production sector, and attract larger-scale foreign productions.
Tomasz Dąbrowski Head of Film Commission Poland
Radosław Śmigulski General Director of the Polish Film Institute
CONTENTS Editorial 1 NEWS Production news 2 Another Day of Life 6 BERLIN 2018 Mug 8 Dovlatov 12 Bless You! 13 Whatever Happens Next 13 When the Trees Fall 14 Tower. A Bright Day 15
TALENTS Wildly popular tales 18 Match&Spark 21 Piotr Niemyjski 22 Katarzyna Lewińska 24 No Sugar Films 26 MONEY BANK Get financed in Poland 28 Polish Film Commissions 30 Box Office in Poland 31
LOCATE&SHOOT Totalitarian buildings 32 Look deeper 36 REMAINS OF THE DAY Tour de Pologne 38 Once upon a time in Kraków... 40
Publisher: Film Commission Poland (Tomasz Dąbrowski, Anna E. Dziedzic, Dana Pohl). Contact details: ul. Chełmska 21 bud. 4/56, 00-724 Warsaw, Poland. email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor in chief: Ola Salwa. Writers: Martin Blaney, Krzysztof Gierat, Darek Kuźma, Magdalena Maksimiuk, Sebastian Smoliński, Will Tizard Graphic Designer: Anna Myśluk. Layout Designer: Marcin Kiedio. Photo Editor: Marcin Kapica. English Editor: Steve Canty. Photo on the cover: Marek Szczepański. Special thanks: Ewa Borguńska (FCPA), Robert Baliński, Marzena Cieślik, Olga Domżała, Rafał Jankowski from the Polish Film Institute, Anna Kot. This magazine is supported by the Polish Film Institute and regional film commissions.
POLISH FILM MAGAZINE AWARDED PFM publisher, Film Commission Poland received the Polish Film Award in the International Promotion of Polish Cinema category at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia.
DANISH WITH NO SUGAR Fantasy TV series Thannanaya finishes shooting in Poland Teodor is twelve and his only friend is his beloved grandpa Harold. The boy enters a magical world, where he wants to find Harold’s wife and his own grandmother, who passed away before he was born. The 24-episode series is directed by Peter Gornstein and produced by Nynne Selin Eidnes. Polish production company No Sugar Films was an executive producer for Polish shoot (more
about the company on page 26). In total, 27 shooting days were organised on Polish locations (Stołowe Mountains, Słowiński National Park, and the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland). Thannanaya was commissioned by Denmark DR DRAMA and will be broadcast on Danish television from December 1, 2018.
SPIES IN WARSAW
The story is set in the 1960s, and revolves around Joshua Mansky (Hurt), a chess grandmaster, who comes to Warsaw to play an important match. The stakes could not be higher – the Polish capital is the arena of a battle that could lead to WWIII. The international cast also includes Aleksey Serebryakov, Lotte Verbeek, James Bloor, Corey Johnson, and Robert Więc-kiewicz. The film is directed by Łukasz Kośmicki, who co-wrote the script with Marcel Sawicki. Acclaimed DoP Paweł Edelman (nominated for an Oscar for The Pianist) and production designer Allan Starski (Oscar winner for Schindler’s List) are also on board.
The Coldest Game is produced by Piotr Woźniak-Starak and Krzysztof Terej through their company Watchout Studio (Gods, The Art of Loving) and Daniel Baur (K5 Film). The film is going to be shot on location from February till April 2018, and the City of Warsaw and the board of The Palace of Culture and Science Ltd. are partners. The Polish Film Institute supported the production with PLN 2.2 million grant (approx. EUR 510 000). Theatrical premiere is set for spring 2019 and the Polish distributor is Next Film. The sales agent Hyde Park Entertainment Group and K5 International manages the film’s international distribution.
©© NEXT FILM (2); ALEKSANDRA MUSIAŁ / NO SUGAR FILMS
American crime thriller with William Hurt starts shooting in Poland
WE ARE ALL LOVING VINCENT nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Feature Animation category
9 things you need to know about Loving Vincent 1. T he idea to make the film a hand-painted animation came from Vincent van Gogh himself. He once wrote in a letter that “We cannot speak other than by our paintings.” 2. E ach of 65 000 animated frames was hand-painted, using the same technique that van Gogh used. 3. 125 painters from all over the world participated in the project. 4. The live action sequence was shot in London and Wrocław. 5. I t took 6 years to produce the film. 6. T he costumes seen on the screen were designed by Dorota Roqueplo. 7. T he film stars Saoirse Ronan, who has been nominated for an Oscar this year. 8. A nother Oscar-nominee, cinematographer Łukasz Żal worked on Loving Vincent. 9. And now for something completely different: the directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman are married.
You can read an exclusive, behind-the-scenes article about Loving Vincent in PFM 2/2016 http://www.filmcommissionpoland.pl/about-fcp/ polish-film-magazine/
Polish producer Joanna Szymańska joined the board of the European Film Academy in 2017!
Polish girls in Rotterdam
Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia make Pardon The film was written and is being directed by acclaimed Polish director, Jan Jakub Kolski. The story follows a married couple, who want to give a proper burial to their son, a soldier persecuted by the communist regime in the late 1940s. Pardon is narrated by the couple’s grandson, seventeen-year-old Janek. Shooting
on location in Lower Silesia began in the fall of 2017 and is expected to finish in 2018. Grażyna Błęcka-Kolska, Jan Jankowski and Michał Kaleta play the principal roles. The film is produced by Kolski (Wytwórnia Doświadczalna), and Agnieszka Janowska and Paweł Kosuń (Centrala), and co-produced by Jan Micola from Mimesis Film (Czech
Republic), Marek Urban from Sentimental Film (Slovakia), as well as Odra-Film, EC1 Łódź - Miasto Kultury, Wojewódzki Dom Kultury w Rzeszowie, the Polish Television and Audiovisual Technology Center (CeTA). The film is supported by the Polish Film Institute. World sales are available.
Nina (dir. Olga Chajdas) was presented in the Big Screen Competition section and My Friend the Polish Girl (dir. Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek) in the Bright Future section. Polish cinema was also represented by Birds Are Singing in Kigali (dir. Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze) and two films with Polish co-producers: Pity (dir. Babis Makridis) and The Captain (dir. Robert Schwentke).
Polish actress wins Swedish award Julia Kijowska (United States of Love) received the Guldbagge Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Strawberry Days (Jordgubbslandet). The film is centered around 15-year-old Wojtek (Stanisław Cywka), who tra-vels from Poland to Sweden to help his parents on a strawberry farm. It was directed by Wiktor Ericsson, produced by Eric Magnusson, and co-produced by Mariusz Włodarski from Lava Films in Poland. Kijowska’s co-star, Przemysław Sadowski, was also nominated (in Best Supporting Actor category). For more awards presented to Polish Filmmakers see the next page.
PEOPLE, FILMS, AWARDS 2017 was a very successful years ever for the Polish industry FEBRUARY → Agnieszka Holland, Spoor, Silver Bear at 67. Berlin IFF → Rafael Kapeliński, Buttefly Kisses, Cristal Bear at 67. Berlin IFF
Welchman, Loving Vincent, Best Animated Film at Shanghai IFF → Maciej Pieprzyca, I am a Killer, Best Director Award at Shanghai IFF
→ Michalina Olszańska, I, Olga
→ Jowita Budnik, Eliane
Hepnarova, Czech Lion for the Best Actress
Umuhire, Birds Are Singing in Kigali, Best Actress Award at 52. Karlovy Vary IFF
MAY → Aleksandra Terpińska, The
Best Fireworks Ever, Rail d’Or and Canal + Award in Semaine de la Critique Section at 70. Cannes IFF
→ Paweł Pawlikowski, Ida,
JUNE → Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Loving Vincent, Audience Award at Annecy IFF → Dorota Kobiela, Hugh ADVERTISMENT
Best Film, 30 years of EFA poll → Maciej Sobieszczański,
Reconciliation, Best Director Award at Montreal World Film Festival → Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski, The Prince and The Dybbuk, Venice Classics Award for The Best Film About
Cinema at 74. Venice IFF OCTOBER → Agnieszka Mandat, Spoor, 62. Valladolid IFF NOVEMBER → Anna Jadowska, Wild Roses, Grand Prix at 27. Cottbus IFF Marta Nieradkiewicz / Wild Roses / Best Actress at 27. Cottbus IFF → Anna Jadowska, Wild Roses, FIPRESCI Award at 27. Cottbus IFF → Anna Jadowska, Wild Roses, Ecumenical Jury Award at 27. Cottbus IFF → Maciej Pieprzyca, I’m a Killer, Special Prize for the Best Direction at 27. Cottbus IFF → Mirosław Haniszewski, I’m a Killer, Best Actor → Anna Jadowska, Wild Roses, Impact Award at Stockholm IFF
DECEMBER → Anna Zamecka, Communion, European Film Award for Best Documentary → Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Loving Vincent, European Film Award for Best Animated Feature Film → Katarzyna Lewińska, Spoor, European Film Award for Best European Costume Designer → Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Loving Vincent, Best Animated Film, 75. Golden Globes (nomination)
THAT’S NOT ALL! Agnieszka Holland starts shooting her highly anticipated new film Gareth Jones in March!
HEART OF DARKNESS Another Day of Life follows legandary journalist Ryszard Kapuściński as he sets out to report on the Angolan revolution of 1975 Will Tizard
DAMIAN NENOW Director
RAÚL DE LA FUENTE Director
Film is the passion project of directors Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow from Poland’s Platige Films. Adapted from his book of the same name, the mixed live action and animation film is the product of eight years of research, shooting on African locations, advanced motion capture animation, and the quest to obtain funding from Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. The two directors, who have yet to decide their official release date and place, say the project was well worth the marathon to the finish line. Damian, in what ways did the Another Day of Life book inspire the film? Damian Nenow: Well, it’s quite a special book that one, there’s a lot of creation involved. Moreover,
it’s the first book in Kapuściński’s bibliography to be something else than a collection of reportages. Another Day of Life is a very mature tome, there’s a lot of poetry to it. It is also a testament to the metamorphosis that Kapuściński underwent in Angola—he went in as a reporter, but left as a fully-fledged artist and writer. What would you say is the most innovative aspect of the project? DN: Well, from my perspective, definitely the animated sequences portraying the surreal visions the protagonist goes through—the world seen through the lens of Kapuściński’s emotions. These dreamlike sequences are entirely our creation. Just as our protagonist used a highly metaphorical,
us it was really difficult. Artur took us to where he had witnessed that big massacre. He told us he hadn’t been back to that place since he’d seen all those murdered civilians with Kapuściński.
©© PLATIGE IMAGE
poetic language to recount the events he witnessed in Angola, we try to communicate narrative content in a more indirect, figurative way. To do so, we’ll be using a variety of tropes viewers will be familiar with from comic books and graphic novels. We’ll also employ a number of editing technique, a live action set and real actors whose gestures and movements will then be mapped onto their animated versions. We’ll be taking the best of all these worlds and combining it into one stunning visual feast. Live footage will be mixed with highly-stylized animated sequences, and captivating documentary footage; the efforts of editors will mesh with those of the camera operator, usually absent from animated productions. We’ll be taking the essence of these techniques and bringing them together to create something extraordinary. Raúl, what was the payoff in Angola, where you followed Artur Queiroz, a reporter who had worked and traveled there with Kapuściński during the 1975 war? Raúl de la Fuente: Yeah, Artur was a key person for Kapuściński. And he was the same for us. He helped us from the very beginning. In 2011, I made the same 40-day trip that Kapuściński had made, and with the same people. I was trying to look for the essence, for the energy of the trip. Angola is a difficult country so I was always thinking how difficult the trip must have been for Kapuściński. Even for
You also tracked down the man who had commanded the popular socialist militias on the southern front, Farrusco. What did you learn from him? RF: Kapuściński was telling the truth. You know about the big polemic about him and the truth and the facts? In Angola I saw they were real things that happened. It was a great discovery to realize that Kapuściński was telling the truth the whole time. I confirmed the words he wrote with reality, with Artur, with Farrusco... everything in the book is clear. How did the project begin its long journey to the screen? RF: For me, making this film was a dream. I’ve been a huge admirer of Mr. Kapuściński since I was In 2011, I made a teenager, so I decided to the same 40-day trip make a film to conclude that Kapuściński his book Another Day of had made Life. He has been an inspiration for me – I’ve always read and re-read his books. And I’ve always thought, “Wow, it’s like I’m watching a film.” He inspired me to travel to Africa, and as I traveled, I understood his words much better. I could imagine every situation. But was it always conceived as an animation project? The surreal quality to so many events in your subject’s life lends itself to that, doesn’t it? DN: That was something that tempted me from the very beginning. The most intriguing thing I found in Kapuściński’s art was his creation – let’s put it that way. And his poetry. He uses fiction to describe facts. This is how he can have this multi-angle view on everything.
Getting closer: actors Małgorzata Gorol and Mateusz Kościukiewicz.
Małgorzata Szumowska, one of Poland’s top directors, is entering the Main Competition of the Berlinale for the third time with her new film Mug Carmen Gray
Your films often deal with the body, and feature people struggling to reconcile the world of flesh and bone with spirituality - from the closeted gay priest in In the Name Of to the grieving woman with an eating disorder in Body. Do you see Mug, which is about a man going
©© BARTOSZ MROZOWSKI
BODY, SOUL, FACE
You have a close relationship with the Berlinale, having won its Silver Bear for Best Director two years ago. Now you’re back in the running with Mug. What inspired it? I really feel that it’s different to my previous films. It’s my seventh feature, which is a special number. I feel much stronger and more secure than before. The movie has a wild flow, which is part of my energy. I’ve carried it all my life, but I’ve stopped myself from using it in my movies. I’ve always held back. This kind of wild energy is something that a lot of Poles have. Mug is a movie about Poland too. It’s about our societal problems. It’s set in a Polish province where the church is still extremely powerful and the people are very Polish, in a good and in a bad sense. They are very conservative and very Catholic, and have convinced themselves that they feel comfortable in that environment, with their specific, narrow values, completely closed to anything different. Obviously, in a big city like Warsaw, where I live, you can’t feel that. Warsaw is pretty much like Berlin was ten or fifteen years ago in that it’s very open and liberal. But Mug says something about the provincial part of Poland, where a huge percentage of people live.
through an identity crisis after a face transplant, as a continuation of this thematic thread? Yes, I’m sure that while Mug has its own special attitude, in terms of what I’m saying, I’m probably, like many directors, revisiting the same issues. Mug tells the story of a man who loses his love when he loses the bodily part of his identity, his face. But he wants to be loved, and has certainly not buried his sexuality. It’s about our struggle with our weaknesses, about being obsessed with our bodies and how we look. Whether we are physically attractive often determines who we are.
Desire and sexuality often create inner conflict in your films. Do you feel that growing up in a Catholic country has influenced you in this? Absolutely. This is a huge part of who I am as a filmmaker. I usually put myself in the role of oppositional critic, because I’m not convinced by the Catholic Church. However, I definitely believe that being an artist from a Catholic country creates a certain kind of tension, because, as a rule, artists can’t be locked into a moral framework, and the Catholic system tries to do just that – to tell us what’s right and wrong, what is and is
Szumowska has a great talent for staging group scenes. Pictured here is actress Agnieszka Podsiadlik.
MAŁGORZATA’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
SILVER LEOPARD 33 Scenes from Life Special Jury Prize 61. Locarno Film Festival 2008
TEDDY AWARD In the Name Of Best Feature Film on LGBT topics 63. Berlinale Film Festival 2013
SILVER BEAR Body Best Director 65. Berlin Film Festival 2015
GOLDEN LIONS Body Best Film 40. Polish Film Festival in Gdynia 2015
EAGLES Body Best Director, Best Film 18. Polish Film Awards 2016
I never do casting sessions. I usually write with specific actors in mind. That’s how I did Body, and it’s the same with Mug not use this? It’s so spectacular, and it says a lot about our country. And the fact that the main character is losing his face while building this statue is obviously symbolic. The movie is not naturalistic, but more of a fairytale or allegory, and we don’t have to take it too seriously. It has a lot of black humor and irony. That’s because while I have a great deal of love for the Polish nation, I also have my reservations. not permitted, and that not to behave accordingly is to sin. That militates against freedom. But I think that it’s good to come from a country like this, because it might make my voice stronger and more vigorous when I deal with this issue. The township of Mug is putting up a massive statue of Jesus, planned to be the world’s largest. I’m interested to hear where this element came from, given that Poland has had a colorful history with its monuments, amid turbulent changes in ideology. It comes from reality. Few people know that the tallest statue of Christ in the world actually stands in the small Polish town of Świebodzin. It’s bigger than the famous one in Rio de Janeiro. The townspeople decided, along with the local priest, who was head of the church in the region, that they wanted to build it and they financed it through donations. It’s absolutely huge, and now it’s part of Polish history. Why? I think there’s something about the Polish mindset. Some people think that we were the biggest country in Europe, with the greatest culture, poets and directors - everything was the greatest. It’s a sort of national psychosis. Jesus Christ was officially declared, in all seriousness, King of Poland by the parliament just over a year ago. I said to myself, why
Did you shoot in Świebodzin? We couldn’t shoot in the actual town because I’m afraid they wouldn’t have granted permission, but we also wanted to make our story a mythical allegory. We set it in a “wild” Polish region that hasn’t been overly influenced by tourism or big city influences. We created the Jesus statue half in reality and half in post-production. We had a life-size head and hands made, and then created the rest with CGI. Mug focuses on an outsider, as does much of your work. Is it important to you to create a space within your films where people can challenge social taboos? Yes, it’s very important. All my life, I’ve been a little unconventional - especially by Polish standards. If I lived in another country, I probably wouldn’t be noticed as someone like that, but being part of this society, I’m seen as a trouble-maker in the sense that I’m a woman and a film director. I’m breaking a taboo, and that is taken to be a kind of critique of Polish society. I don’t always behave exactly the way people expect I should behave, as a woman of a certain of age, or as a mother. I choose these sorts of characters because they’re very close to what I’m going through, and what I feel. It’s that simple.
©© BARTOSZ MROZOWSKI
Agnieszka Podsiadlik’s face (right) is familiar to Berlinale’s audience: she starred in The Erlprince, presented in the Generation 14plus section in 2017.
Making faces: actor Krzysztof Czeczot (in the middle).
You mentioned the taboo of being both a woman and a film director. There are industry power shifts and movements right now aimed at making cinema less of a boys’ club. Do you think we’re at a crossroads? I think it’s a very important shift and I completely support it. It’s a kind of female revolution, which I used to long for, but never believed would ever happen, because it’s too complicated. A woman received the Golden Bear at the Berlinale last year, but I’m afraid that hasn’t happened too often. Only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Picture, and only two have won the Best Director at Cannes, so you can see that is definitely a boys’ club. As for sexual harassment, maybe we don’t always react because we are sometimes so tired that we become resigned to it and think okay, it’s normal for men to treat you like this, and that you’ll have to fight it your whole life. But maybe it’s great that someone will actually stand up and say “Stop this bullshit.” My daughter, who is five years old, might end up living in a completely different society and not have to go through that kind of shit. This makes me really happy, and I also hope it’s going to be helpful to me in my career as a director. The #MeToo hashtag revolution is not so visible in Poland at the moment, because we have other revolutions going on, and women have been on the streets fighting for basic rights, such as abortion. Let’s talk about the cast. Your husband Mateusz Kościukiewicz plays the lead. Is it your preferred method to work with those close to you? Yes, I never do casting sessions. I usually write with specific actors in mind. That’s how I did Body, and it’s the same with Mug. I only had to find one young girl, and I discovered Małgorzata Gorol, who will be making her screen debut. But my “casting session” consisted in finding out that she is very good in the theatre, and then travelling to see her in two stage plays. I only did a very short screen test – about five minutes – after that, to convince myself one hundred per cent, and I could see straightaway that she was brilliant. I follow my intuition.
I don’t like casting sessions, where a hundred people turn up, because they feel insecure, I feel insecure, and in the end the situation is not natural. I often choose friends to work with on the team, and not just the actors and actresses. I’m not an easy person but these people understand me and I understand them. And it’s just faster - we don’t have to talk bullshit and waste time, but can get straight to the point. I’ve written all my movies with Michal Englert, the DOP, who also does the cinematography. I also use the same editor, Jacek Drosio, who won the European Film Award for Best Editor for Body, which is amazing, and Katarzyna Lewinska* to design the costumes. She also received a European Film Award this year. It’s like a regular team. You’ve worked abroad before, most notably when you made Elles with Juliette Binoche in 2011. Do you see yourself doing more of it? I’d love to continue making movies in Poland. And I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom. I expect the Polish Film Institute to now start supporting more historical movies about how Poland used to be big and brave and so on. In my opinion, these are of no interest internationally. I hope that they don’t lock out critical arthouse movies completely. My identity is Polish, and when you lose your roots as an artist, it can get complicated. But I’m completely open to making movies outside Poland as well. I’ve shot another upcoming film called All Inclusive, and I did it without any institutional support. It’s the first ever Polish-Moroccan co-production. It’s about Polish people in Morocco, and I’m really proud of it, because it’s a totally independent, low-budget film. It’s a film about women. I proved to myself that if you want you can do it; anything is possible.
Who to bother for more information: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
*you can read her profile on page 22
A LESSON IN FORGOTTEN HISTORY Alexey German Jr.’s Dovlatov, an ambitious Russian-Polish-Serbian co-production effort, is set to shine in Berlinale’s Main Competition Darek Kuźma
What does Dovlatov mean, you may well ask, and the question would not be at all surprising. For even if Sergei Dovlatov is one of the most internationally recognized Russian writers of the second half of the 20th century, the digital age has seen his literary fame fade to a handful of erudite circles. Nevertheless, his high reputation did not come from nowhere, as Dovlatov’s powerful writing is still one of the most challenging chronicles of the harsh realities of living in the Soviet Union. In other words, his work is ripe for rediscovery. This is where Alexey German Jr. comes in. One of the best and most internationally recognized Russian film directors of the 21st century, German Jr. has established himself as a cinematic chronicler of the many faces of his country’s glorious and tumultuous past, and uncertain future. With such films as Paper Soldier (Silver Lion for Best Director at the 2008 Venice IFF) and Under Electric Clouds (Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2015 Berlinale), he has proven himself capable of crafting achingly beautiful odes to the everlasting audio-visual power of cinema and the universality of its language. Thus, Dovlatov, set in 1970s Leningrad during six crucial days in the protagonist’s life, is one artist’s interpretation of the life and legacy of another. It is a tale of a talented individual’s struggle to maintain creative freedom in the face of pressure to conform to a government-imposed version of reality. It is additionally a sonto-father tribute. German Jr.’s father, the great Soviet film director Alexey German, belonged to the Leningrad intelligentsia of that time. This was a group of concerned
Capturing images were created by Oscarnominated cinematographer, Łukasz Żal
people who tried to preserve the richness and diversity of Russia’s culture. Ultimately, Sergei Dovlatov did not live to see his work being appreciated in his native country, having died of a heart attack in 1990, many years after he had migrated to New York, but he managed to publish twelve books once he ceased to be choked off by Soviet censorship. Now, almost thirty years after his death, Sergei Dovlatov can speak to us through the magic of the silver screen, and soon through DVD/BD, VOD and other forms of digital film distribution, shining a light on the forgotten days of his country’s turbulent past. This cinematic salutation to Dovlatov’s legacy comes in the most suitable form of a truly European co-production between Russia, Poland and Serbia, supported by Polish Film Institute, Eurimages, the Russian Federation Ministry of Culture, Russian Film Fund, and Filmski Centar Srbije. The Polish side is represented by producers Dariusz Jabłoński, Izabela Wójcik and Violetta Kamińska from Message Film (who previously worked with German jr. on Under Electric Clouds), Oscar-nominated cinematographer Łukasz Żal, and three very accomplished actors, viz. Piotr Gąsowski, Helena Sujecka and Hanna Śleszyńska. Who to bother for more information: Izabela Wójcik, email@example.com
ATCHOO! Nobody is saved from sneezing in Paulina Ziółkowska’s animated short Bless You!, screened in the Generation 14plus section of this year’s Berlinale Bless You! displays a healthy dose of vivid colors
Even though she was still studying at the Animation Department of the Polish National Film School in Łódź, Paulina Ziółkowska won several prizes with her previous, monochromatic short Oh Mother! – a sensual vision of a (perhaps too) close mother and son relationship. With Bless You!, she ventures into completely different territory. The film is an extremely colorful, and somewhat psychedelic, joke about how warped human communication can be and how we affect – and infect –
each other – often unwittingly. When the first person on the street begins to sneeze, he “sneezes” part of himself into another person etc. ad infinitum. This domino effect changes the whole world – and even the universe. Talking with Ziółkowska was like entering her movie. She spoke about her film laid up in bed with the flu: “I wanted to make a film about illness and about how we become infected by somebody else. Bless You! shows how people behave differently depending on
their circumstances (e.g. whether they are sick or healthy). Apart from that, it has always bugged me that when we sneeze, we sneeze a part of ourselves – and someone else catches our disease. It’s socially acceptable – even if we know whose fault it is that we have to spend a week in bed.”
Who to bother for more information: Krzysztof Brzezowski firstname.lastname@example.org
FINDING BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY
Whatever Happens Next, directed by Julian Pörksen and co-produced by Agnieszka Dziedzic from Koi Studio in Warsaw, had its world premiere in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino Section
This is a simple, but intriguing road movie and a coming-of-age tale for mature vagabonds about finding joy and fulfillment in the mundane. The camera follows a middle-aged man named Paul (Sebastian Rudolph), who decides to leave his meticulously planned, orderly life and simply wander around, meet new people and get to know the world a little better. The adventure he embarks on only goes to show him that he’s been missing out on a great deal, and that with a modicum of effort, his surroundings, and the unexpect-
ed beauty and joy in the everyday and the ordinary, can be experienced to the full. Julian Pörksen’s debut feature was shot on location in Germany and in Łódź, Poland. “The main challenge facing a producer has always been to provide the appropriate setting for the creative team to make their vision come to life” explains Stefan Gieren, the German producer of the film. “In our case, that involved setting up a highly mobile crew that could travel to Leipzig, Łódź and Kiel, and creating technical workflows to achieve quality cinema with a small footprint.” he adds. The project came to life with significant involvement on the part of the Polish contingent. Here we might mention actors Piotr Żurawski (Spoor) and Andrzej Mastalerz (A Short Film About Killing), set designer Marcin Buśko, costume designer Weronika Wojtach, and sound designers Paulina Sacha and Marcin Popławski. Gieren, whose short Raju was nominated
for an Oscar in 2011, was last in Berlin with the Forum section entry Toz Bezi (2015). The previous credits of the Polish co-producer, Agnieszka Dziedzic, include Little Crushes (2014) and Double Trouble (2017), which was a domestic box office hit with 300 000 tickets sold. Gieren positively appraises their collaboration: “We are both experienced in putting together difficult debut projects and have learned that you need to stick to the goal of making it happen until the very end. And we did.” “Whatever Happens Next was partly financed by the Polish-German Film Fund as our principal partner. They were very much interested in investing in low-budget productions featuring up-and-coming talent. This was one of the first films completed with the help of the Fund,” says Dziedzic. Who to bother for more information: Agnieszka Skalska, email@example.com
WILDING TALE When the Trees Fall, a Polish co-production directed by Marysia Nikitiuk from Ukraine, is celebrating its world premiere in the Panorama section
Nikitiuk’s feature debut is a coming-of-age tale about a rebellious little girl who witnesses her cousin’s romance with a criminal, who is eventually forced to abandon her. The gloomy setting of a remote Ukraine village serves as a fine backdrop for the untangling of a criminal plot. The little spy enters a crucial period in her young life as she observes the world around her with her eyes wide open. Meanwhile, just around the corner, the girl’s older cousin suffers the detrimental consequences of her inconsiderate actions and is forced to marry a man she’d only just met to avoid dishonoring her family. When the Trees Fall is screening in Berlin almost two years after Nikitiuk won the 10th edition of ScripTeast, a competition for screenplays from Eastern Europe. When justifying the choice of winner, the ScripTeast Artistic Board emphasized that Nikitiuk’s script was “rich with cinematic opportunity and presents a captivating, symbolic vision and narrative which smoothly intertwine to create an extraordinary world that is simultaneously frightening, magical, sensual and funny, and which never exceeds the limits of authenticity.” When the Trees Fall is a Ukrainian-Polish-Macedonian collaboration. The main producer is Igor Savychenko (Directory Film), the Polish co-producers are Dariusz Jabłoński, Violetta Kamińska and Izabela Wójcik (Message Film), and the Macedonian partner is Darko Basheski (Fokus In). “With Ukrainian producer Igor Savychenko, we had this common dream to work
on a Ukrainian-Polish co-production. Marysia’s work captivated us with its freshness and originality, as did Marysia herself, with her incredible talent and temperament.” say the producers. “We were also looking for an artistic, visionary companion for her. After all, Trees is a very demanding project visually. We decided to offer it to cinematographer Michał Englert, who we had been wanting to work with for a long time. The finished film is the result of a fruitful collaboration with our longtime partners, DI Factory, who completed the color correction”, he adds. The Polish crew also included cinematographer Mateusz Wichłacz and editor Milenia Fiedler (Beyond Words). Who to bother for more information: Izabela Wójcikizabela. firstname.lastname@example.org
BEING AS BRAVE AS POSSIBLE Simultaneously seducing and frightening, Tower. A Bright Day is a masterful debut that will be screened at the Forum section
Set in present-day Bystrzyca Kłodzka, a mountainous pastoral region in south-western Poland, Tower. A Bright Day tells the story of two sisters and their families who gather in a secluded village house a few days before one of the children’s first communion. Strange things start to happen in this idyllic setting - the dog goes missing, trees secretly and supernaturally bloom at night, and one of the sisters seems to be more than an
ordinary person. Is she a medium, a ghost, a witch, or just a spiritual human being who does not participate in materialistic middle-class culture? Constantly on the verge of the uncanny, Tower. A Bright Day is the most original and idiosyncratic Polish genre movie of recent years. As the director explains, she wanted to start with a psychological drama, transform it smoothly into a thriller or even a horror movie – and then blow it up with
the philosophical cinema that interests her the most. The constant mood change in Szelc’s film is not in the least forced or contrived. They derive organically from her nuanced, polished script and flawless cast (most of the actors are relatively unknown to Polish audiences). Tower. A Bright Day was praised by Polish film critics and won two awards (Best Script and Best Debut) at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia in September 2017.
Jagoda Szelc graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. She was studying directing at the Film School in Łódź, when she was given the opportunity to make a feature as her diploma film in the Indeks Film Studio, relaunched by the school. “You only make your debut once, so it’s worth making it as brave as possible,” said Szelc after
the movie’s premiere. The result is a mind-boggling experiment which is also an intimate, powerful story of emotional and spiritual rebirth. Tower. A Bright Day is also a great example of fusion between the visual arts and cinema. One of the most important emerging woman artists in Poland, Szelc doesn’t consider herself a filmmaker per se – but
her creative energy and interest in the filmmaking process are simply boundless. Case in point: she started working on her new film, Monument, in January 2018.
Who to bother for more information: Justyna Koronkiewicz email@example.com
Q&A with Jagoda Szelc – director of Tower. A Bright Day Tower. A Bright Day is a very sensual movie with a complicated structure. You had full control over the script and created a hallucinatory, oneiric effect, but how did you manage to convince actors to play in that key? I think that actors begin to trust you when they see that you are not directing them, but the movie itself. I’m not sure and can’t speak for them, but they probably thought I was a wacko at first. However, they knew that with their talent, these roles would be good for them. The screenplay offered a lot of possibilities, and I knew how to take advantage of that.
Was working with child actors a challenge on set? For someone who had only made three short films before, everything was a challenge. But I knew I wanted to have a lot of rehearsals and make the actors see each other on a daily basis - eat lunch together and go to the park - mainly because of the children. Children need time to break barriers (and that’s a good thing). You cannot speed up these processes. Your feature debut is far from any conventional sense of realism. Are other poetics closer to your sensibility?
I’m not interested in “small realism,” because I don’t believe that this supposedly “real” world exists. What I value most about movies is that they don’t actually exist. They are not material. They come to life in our heads. I don’t want to leave anything behind after I die. No leftovers. The biggest challenge is to not to be afraid to experiment. On the other hand, “civilians” (as I call people who have never seen a film set) don’t realize that our work is often very unpoetic; it’s a fight against time and matter. I really like that aspect, it keeps me close to the ground and teaches humility.
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A ADAM MAR
Berlinale Coproduction Market
YOUNG, SMART AND READY TO SHINE !
The War Has Ended directed by Hagar Ben Asher and produced by Match Factory Productions (Germany), Madants (Poland), Transfax (Israel) is one of 36 feature film projects selected for the 15. edition of the Berlinale’s industry event.
MEETING THE POLISH INDUSTRY While visting the Europan Film Market stop by the Polish Stand in MGB to meet representatives of our industry! February 16th 10.00 am -12.00 pm distributors 3.00 pm-5.00 pm film funds and regional film commissions
IK A W IEŁ
M AŁ G O R
February 17th 10.00 am -12.00 pm producers (feature, documentary and animated films) 3.00 pm-5.00 pm film schools February 18th 10.00 am -12.00 pm festivals ALSO: read our Poles in Berlin 2018 guide, available at www.filmcommissionpoland.pl
WILDLY POPULAR TALES Since the last television season, Poland has been making more highend crime series, some of which have been broadcast outside the country, and 2018 will see the production of Poland’s first Netflix program Ola Salwa
As this issue of Polish Film Magazine goes to print, very little information on the first Polish Netflix production has officially been made public. Title? TBA. Cast? Unconfirmed, but some actors have confirmed their participation on social media. Shooting locations? Apparently Warsaw, Lublin and Wrocław. OK, so what do we know? The series will be directed by Agnieszka Holland (House of Cards, Rosemary’s Baby) and Kasia Adamik, and will tell an alternative history of Poland (a few more details below). The fact that this American behemoth, which has already sent us on a downward binge-watching spiral (House of Cards, Stranger Things, Dark, and Narcos, to name just a few of our newfound digital drugs), now has Poland in the crosshairs, says a lot about its capacity and appeal. The director, who is well established in both film and television, is not the only drawing card. They wrote, they came and they shot Poland is fertile ground for this sort of small-screen production, as it has a large audience avidly interested in local content. As someone who works for a TV station that also produces series in Poland has pointed out, the country is the largest market in Central and Eastern Europe. There are three types of TV series made in Poland: shows created and produced with little or no foreign support (e.g. The Teacher and The Pack, which had Julie Rutterford as a consultant and was supervised by HBO Europe producer Johnathan Young);
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shows that are developed and/or run by US producers (Ultraviolet, Netflix series), but broadcast locally; and international co-productions, e.g. The Pleasure Principles. The last project has been billed as the first collaboration between Eastern European countries with the support of Canal+ Poland. As of late January 2018, it has been shot on location in Warsaw. Compared to the late 2000s and early 2010s, when people who wanted something more than soap operas day in day out could opt for US or Scandinavian shows or Polish series based on international formats (e.g. In Treatment [US], Penoza [Netherlands], and Mammon [Norway]), the national offering is now far more attractive than ever. The budgets of these shows are jealously guarded secrets, but their production value is impressive, as is the list of talents that go into making them. Apart from Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik (who directed a few episodes of the second season of The Pack), the stations have hired helmers Jan P. Matuszyński (The Last Family), Jan Komasa (Suicide Room, Warsaw ’44), Łukasz Palkowski (Gods), and Maciej Pieprzyca (I’m a Killer). Leading Polish production houses like Opus Film and Apple Film Production are on board as well. Local TV series Many of these productions fall into the crime-thriller genre, which makes the plot universal, but are set in landscapes and social environments peculiar to Poland. “As with any other type of production in Europe, you have to think globally and act locally. And by that I mean working with international partners on projects that interest your country’s audience,” says producer Joanna Szymańska from SHIPsBOY in Warsaw, the company that is currently developing the mini-series 1989. The budget of these Szymańska teamed up with Slovak producer shows are jelously Katarina Krnacova (Silver Art) and received some guarded secrets, but financing from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. the production value is Germany has already come to the party. “We impressive assumed that if Scandinavian producers could work together on a show, then we Eastern Europeans could too,” she adds. Szymańska reveals that 89 will revolve around a group of characters, each of whom has to confront the political changes that took place in 1989. “We’re only starting to produce high-end TV and SVOD content, so I guess for now we’re overwhelmed with new possibilities that we don’t yet know how to use. And on top of all that, Poland has no public funds to support the development of independent TV series, so it’s hard to work in the field unless you have a big channel behind you”, she concludes. Szymańska also produces feature films with international partners. So far, the production of original Polish TV series is like a crime show plot: worth investigating. The protagonist of The Pack (pictured above) is played by one of Poland’s favorite TV actors: Leszek Lichota.
YOU CAN ALREADY DEMAND WATCHING: The Pack Where: HBO Set in the picturesque Bieszczady mountains, The Pack revolves around a group of border guards. The first season premiered in 2014 and was more popular than the cult series Game of Thrones. The combine second season was broadcast simultaneously in 19 countries (including Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia). It was the first such premiere in the history of HBO Europe’s original TV programming. Who to bother for more information: Viviane Richard, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Teach Where: Canal +, Polar + Poland’s major star, Maciej Stuhr (The Red Captain) plays a mysterious literature teacher, who arrives in a small town recently shocked by the murder of a high-school girl. He starts a private investigation, where “private” is the operative word. The first season was released in Poland in 2016, and the second one the following year. In January 2018, The Teach was broadcast on the French channel Polar +. Who to bother for more information: Iwona Lisowska email@example.com
Ultraviolet Where: AXN The main protagonist is Ola, who, after years of working in London, comes back to her home town of Łódź. One night, she witnesses a horrible accident that the police dismiss as a suicide. Ola decides to look into the case on her own, and joins a group of amateur private detectives that identify themselves as Ultraviolet. Marta Nieradkiewicz, who was recently awarded at the Cottbus Film Festival for Wild Roses, stars as the troubled Ola. Her co-stars are Sebastian Fabijański (Botoxx), and Agata Kulesza (Ida). The series was directed by Jan Komasa and Sławomir Fabicki. Wendy West (Dexter) created and produced the series with Barry Josephson. The Polish writing team was supervised by Chris Barber (CSI). Who to bother for more information: Paulina Rzążewska Paulina_Rzazewska@spe.sony.com
Blinded by the Lights (a mini-series)
Release: TBA Where: Netflix The action begins in 2002, twenty years after a terrorist attack that prevented the Soviet Union from falling apart, and a certain wall from falling down. The series was created by Joshua Long, who will also produce with Agnieszka Holland and Maciej Musiał, while Frank Marshall and Robert Zotnowski from The Kennedy/Marshall Company will serve as executive producers. Who to bother for more information: Anna Kot firstname.lastname@example.org
Release: 2018 Where: HBO Poland An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jakub Żulczyk, who also cowrote the script with director Krzysztof Skonieczny. The story is centered around a cocaine dealer, who wants to leave his job (and Poland) for good. The action spans six days before Christmas. If Blinded by the Lights is even remotely like Skonieczny’s debut feature, Hardcore Disco, we are in for a visually compelling, intelligent genre film. The cast includes leading Polish actors Robert Więckiewicz and Cezary Pazura. Who to bother for more information: Agnieszka Niburska Agnieszka.Niburska@hbo.com
The Pleasure Principles Release: 2018 Where: Canal + Poland The first TV series co-produced by Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. Three crimes committed in three capital cities bring three investigators together. The script was penned by Maciej Maciejewski, who wrote one of Poland’s most successful Polish crime series, Cop. The international cast includes Sergiej Strelnikow, Karel Roden, Stiepe Erceg, Małgorzata Buczkowska, and Robert Gonera. Dariusz Jabłoński (Aftermath) is both showrunner and director. Who to bother for more information: Iwona Lisowska email@example.com
The Witcher Release: TBA Where: Netflix The Witcher is based on the cult book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, which has been translated into more than 20 languages. The books have also been adapted as a highly successful video game. The TV series is collaboration between Netflix, Platige Films (subsidiary company of Platige Image), and Sean Daniel Company (The Mummy, The Expanse). Jarosław Sawko, Tomasz Bagiński (director of the Oscar-nominated short Cathedral) Sean Daniel and Jason Brown will serve as
executive producers. The cast and shooting dates have not been officially confirmed. Who to bother for more information: Jarosław Sawko firstname.lastname@example.org
Raven. So Dark in Here Release: March 2018 Where: Canal + Poland A teenage boy is kidnapped in a small Podlachian town. The investigation is conducted by inspector Adam Kruk, who grew up in the region, and is now assigned to his hometown Białystok after years of working in Łódź. The script was written by Jakub Korolczuk, who wrote the mystery drama After.Life, starring Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci. Kruk is directed by Maciej Pieprzyca, who recently won the Special Prize for Best Director at the Cottbus Film Festival for I’m a Killer. The show is being produced by Opus TV from Łódź. Who to bother for more information: Iwona Lisowska email@example.com
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LIGHTING THE FUSE The Warsaw talent management agency Match&Spark was set up to help launch the international careers of Polish filmmakers by getting them involved in international co-productions Will Tizard Poland’s current generation of filmmakers has set its sights on the world – but these cinematographers, directors and writers are learning that this no longer means having to uproot yourself and move to LA. “You can be in Warsaw, but you can quickly fly anywhere – to Mexico, Africa, Asia. For previous generations, this was not possible for historical reasons. I feel that we are a bridge of sorts,” says Anna Różalska of Match&Spark, the three-year-old talent agency that she runs with Tarik Hachoud and Tomasz Rytlewski, which is dedicated to solving this dilemma. Różalska claims that only now, more than three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain, are Polish filmmakers really integrating into the international scene. So, despite the relative youthfulness of Match&Spark, the company has few competitors
Broading the horizons “Many of Match&Spark’s Polish filmmakers now have one or two features under their belt, and are ready to make their first English-language productions,” says Różalska. “Some of our directors are currently developing their English-language debuts in the US, some of which Match&Spark is co-producing. This is mutual organic growth.” Match&Spark co-produced the documentary Who Will Write Our History with Nancy Spielberg. This is an account of the Warsaw Ghetto’s secret archives by Roberta Grossman. The project, which features Adrian Brody and Joan Allen on voiceovers, is not the first such film where Match&Spark served as a co-producer. In the Name of Honor, another documentary feature, this time about honor killings in India, Jordan and Palestine, was produced with RatPac and Brett Ratner for Netflix in 2016. The company has been able to work on fairly broad horizons thanks to the diverse background of its founders. “I got a feel for the American industry while I was working for Alvernia Studios, which used to be the largest film production company in Poland,” Różalska explains. “Their focus was on international productions.” Różalska studied film in Łódź, and business in Warsaw. She followed this up with more training in Montreal and completed an international management program in Barcelona. “Local demand for global access is only growing,” says Różalska. “I think that we’re something of an answer for changing markets. Our artists are here, but they want to work internationally.” Among those who seem to agree are a score of prominent filmmakers and creatives in all aspects of production, including cinematographers Magdalena Górka (An Ordinary Man, Jack Strong, I’m Still Here), Marcin Koszałka (The Red Spider, Happiness of the World), Monika Lenczewska (Labyrinth, Under The Tree), Łukasz Żal (Ida, Cold War), screenwriters Ana Davis (Disconnected), Błażej Dzikowski (Dog Night Brother) and Filip Kasperaszek (Ultraviolet) and directors Kuba Czekaj (The Earlprince), Sofia Exarchou (Park), and Michał Marczak (All These Sleepless Nights) just to name a few.
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with the same global contacts and agenda. The story of Ida cinematographer Łukasz Żal is illustrative. “When Łukasz was nominated for an Oscar for Ida, I was sure he had a US agent,” Różalska recalls, adding that when she found out that he didn’t. “I pushed Łukasz to go to the US and meet those guys, as they would obviously all be interested in representing him. We helped him find an agent and then we worked side by side in managing his international career. And this is how it all started. There are amazing international directors, who want to work with Polish cinematographers,” says Różalska. Yet the relationships often need managing and nurturing. Thus far this has led to Match&Spark’s cinematographers working internationally; Marcin Koszałka lensed Dog/ Câine directed by Florian Şerban, Ernest Wilczyński is currently shooting a US documentary together with director John Sullivan and Bartosz Nalazek is working on Tell It To The Bees in Scotland, together with director Annabel Jankel.
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THE INVISIBLE MAN
Zanussi’s Foreign Body, Niemyjski has proven time and again that he can design rich and evocative visual narratives without ever overshadowing the characters or the plot. This is partly the result of having travelled the world, experiencing new cultures and being influenced by new ways of thinking. “There was this Japanese director, Kei Ishikawa, who studied in Łódź Film School. When he was making his feature debut, Gukôroku, produced by Office Kitano and Warner Bros. Japan, he wanted to shoot it with a Polish cinematographer,” recalls Niemyjski. “It was a wonderful experience. I’d love to be invited to Japan for their next project.”
There is a good reason why Polish cinematographer Piotr Niemyjski is not a household name - he prefers it that way. But, despite his best efforts, this may well change with the upcoming premiere of Krzysztof Zanussi’s Ether Darek Kuźma
When Piotr Niemyjski says that “for me, being a cinematographer is all about understanding and realizing the director’s vision and serving the project, not my own ego,” he really means it. Although he has worked with such internationally established directors as Krzysztof Zanussi and Bartosz Konopka, and has had a feature film at the Venice IFF, and two nominations for a coveted Camerimage award, he insists that he does not like to watch films that scream their cinematographers’ names. “I don’t see any reason to use the same bag of tricks. I prefer exploring new ideas, confronting my aesthetic sensibilities, and getting to know something about myself in the process,” he says, promptly adding: “You know, when I was in Japan, I visited the great Yasujirō Ozu’s grave. It didn’t have his name, just the Japanese symbol for the word nothing, or nothingness. No gloss, no grand gestures. I find that inspiring.” Eye has to travel For that reason, Niemyjski chose to be as invisible as a cinematographer can be. This is not to say that his work is bland and devoid of passion. Quite the contrary. Whether it is visualizing young Poles’ inability to forge a meaningful relationship with a dishonest world in Jan Komasa’s storyline from Ode to Joy, weaving subtly non-verbal emotion into Fear of Falling, Bartosz Konopka’s heart-breaking story of a family torn apart, or expressively contrasting the fervor of Catholic faith with an emotionally sterile corporate culture in Krzysztof
Faustian legend in pictures But for now, Niemyjski’s most challenging professional relationship is with the great Krzysztof Zanussi. “I was lucky, I guess. He was about to shoot his new film and liked my work on Fear of Falling. He didn’t want anything even remotely similar to the cinematography in Fear of Falling, he was simply looking for this way of thinking about the frame, the space, and the relationship between the camera and the characters,” says Niemyjski, still a little awed by the director’s reputation. “Was I afraid before shooting Foreign Body? Hell yeah! The man was a legend, and much older and wiser than me, with his own style shaped by decades of working with some of the greatest Polish cinematographers. But we got along, not least because I was able to focus on my job and because I only enhanced the project when he asked me to do so,” says Niemyjski, adding that the experience did not prepare him for what he was about to NIEMYJSKI’S FILM PICKS encounter with Ether. Zanussi’s latest is a retelling of the Faustian legend, set in Galicia, near the border between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires, in 1910. The main character is a military doctor with a penchant for using ether to experiment with human consciousness. A co-production between Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Lithuania, the project tested the craft of everyone involved. FAVORITE ONE: “Krzysztof Zanussi says that too much planning ahead is Citizen Kane creative laziness, so he sets boundaries for his crew to dir. Orson Welles work within,” reminisces Niemyjski. “During our first meeting, he played the overture from Wagner’s Parsifal to give me a feel for the tone of the project. And you know what? It worked!” Niemyjski explains the crazy logistics of Ether: “The doctor walks down a street in southern Hungary, stops before a building in Lviv, and FIRST ONE: walks along a corridor in Budapest to a room in Italy,” Checkered Dog he laughs. “It was brutal on all of us, but incredibly dir. Zofia Ołdak satisfying once we realized that we could pull it off. I’m proud of Ether. The film is different from what is being made nowadays. We looked for inspiration to Robert Bresson and Miklós Jancsó, we limited lighting schemes, we structured the film around beautiful master shots, we took the time to let it flow its own way, and yet it’s still interesting and powerful.” ONE HE WOULD Sounds exactly like something the great Yasujirō Ozu LIKE TO DIRECT: would have approved of. And while Piotr Niemyjski Workers Leaving would love to remain an invisible cinematographer, this the Lumière Facyear’s premiere of Ether may make his work and talent tory in Lyon more recognizable around the world. dir. Lumière Brothers
Katarzyna LewiĹ„ska on the set of Afterimage, directed by the late Andrzej Wajda
A DEALER IN CINEMATIC IDENTITIES Costume designer Katarzyna Lewińska recently won a coveted European Film Award. She is currently working on Netflix’s first Polish TV series and is destined for much bigger projects Darek Kuźma
©© ANNA WŁOCH / AKSON STUDIO
Katarzyna Lewińska manages several projects of varying degrees of difficulty every year – all without missing a beat. Whether it involves working with such renowned directors as Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland, Małgorzata Szumowska or Anne Fontaine, or supporting firsttime filmmakers (Piotr Domalewski’s Silent Night, which won the Golden Lions at the 2017 Polish Film Festival), Lewińska always gives 100%. “It all starts with the script, my conversations with the director, cinematographer and production designer, the way I look for visual references,” she says. “After that, it’s all about meetings and relationships. It’s people who interest me, their visions and world-building skills. But they have to be interested in me, in what I can bring to the table.” After graduating from two American universities, Lewińska learned the ropes in the theatre, under the guidance of such luminaries as Academy Award-nominated production designer Santo Loquasto, but eventually fell in love with the cinema and its endless storytelling opportunities. “I consider myself a dealer in cinematic identities,” she explains. “Together with the Hair and Make-up department, we present actors with new ways of seeing things, new identities forged through color, fabric, weight, and other physical and psychological factors. The single most difficult moment in my job is the first fitting, when I deliver two initial sets of costumes. They have to mean something to the actor, make some sort of connection, or I’m screwed,” she laughs, adding that when it comes to costumes, every detail counts. “I put the same amount of passion and hard work into dressing the extras as I do into dressing the main characters. Actually, extras are especially difficult, because they don’t have any lines, they are created through their costumes.” Dressing up for fun With her strong work ethic and cosmopolitan imagination, Lewińska is equal to any challenge. From Katarzyna Adamik’s The Offsiders’, a story about homeless men restarting their lives through their passion for soccer, through Małgorzata Szumowska’s study of young women selling their bodies for money in Elles, to Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s
tale of bloodthirsty, folk-singing mermaids in The Lure, Lewińska finds innovative ways to help create the world. Having thoroughly mastered her craft, she now delights in working on projects that seem antipodal in content and form. Case in point: Tomasz Bagiński’s Polish Legends, a series of short SF/fantasy films presenting local folklore to international audiences. “I loved every second of it, especially working with CGI and green screen. I had partial sets and previs, and had to imagine the world I was helping to create,” she reminisces. “It was absolutely thrilling, working with something that wasn’t there. It gave me a new understanding of what costume design could be.” Lewińska recently wrapped Krzysztof Zanussi’s Ether, a retelling of the Faustian legend set near the border between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires on the eve of World War I. “It’s a world of military men, although it’s very different from what you might imagine. We’re not dealing with sexy American soldiers from Platoon here, but mundane men in uniform who don’t stand out at all. Making them exciting and profound, as the film delves deep into matters of the “Together with the soul, was stimulating.” She has just Hair and Make-up started working on Netflix’s first Polish TV series (still untitled), an alternative department, we history vehicle for “a fascinating world present actors creation, a sort of what if…? that can be with new ways of terrifying and breathtaking at the same time.” Lewińska’s job is to authenticate seeing things” a 21st century Warsaw that is still behind the as yet unfallen Iron Curtain. “This is a costume redesign, I have to make it look 1980s-ish with more modern clothes, both military uniforms and what ordinary people wear.” With her vast experience and eagerness to learn, experiment, and learn some more, Lewińska seems destined to forge hundreds of cinematic identities for even more ambitious and high-profile projects. The question is not “if” but “when”, although Lewińska herself does not give it any thought. “Costumes are my life, I’m addicted to designing them, and putting them on actors,” she enthuses. Seems like her job is tailor-made.
NO SUGAR COATING Producers Marta Habior and Marta Lewandowska who run No Sugar Films have already worked with American, British and German partners, and co-produced films with Mexico, Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Marta Habior, the founder, and Marta Lewandowska, this year’s Berlinale Talent, run a constantly growing production company based in Warsaw, and keep expanding their horizons. A few hours after our interview, they are winging their way to Los Angeles to discuss upcoming projects with their U.S. partners. The company, founded by Habior in 2012, was the culmination of 10 years experience in the industry. “I started out in the film industry as an assistant producer, because I knew that I was well-organized and could deal with unexpected problems on set,” she says. She
initially worked on small-budget international productions that were shot in Poland. “Then I got a big British-American production, Iron Cross. This was Roy Scheider’s last film. I saw that standards of work were much higher than in Polish productions, so I decided that I wanted to focus on foreign productions,” she explains. Lewandowska, after graduating from the National Film School in Łódź, started attending film festivals and meeting people, only to realize that international film production was what really interested her.
©© MICHAŁ MATRASZEK
Dreaming big The most prestigious Hollywood project they have worked so far on was Denial with Rachel Weisz.* This was produced by Participant Media (the company responsible for The Help and Lincoln). “It was a casting process. They were looking for a partner producer in Poland, and we’re proud that they chose us” says Habior. “We also serviced the American biopic A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy. This is a big production set in the late Middle Ages. We’re very open to working with artists who might not have an impressive filmography, but who do have talent and creative energy. Our costume designer on the Luther biopic, Zuzanna Markiewicz, had previously worked in theatre and on short films, but when she did the medieval European costumes for us, the Americans wanted to take her back with them!” When speaking about their own projects, they cannot single out one as being the most important. “One of our dearest projects is Tales of Mexico, a co-production with wonderful partners from Mexico. It turns out that we are culturally closer to this country than, say, Norway. We like The Saint a lot as well. This is the debut of the Lithuanian director Andriaus Blaževičiaus. The movie received 5 of Lithuania’s major film awards, including best screenplay, best film, and best actor. It was at the top of the box office in that country. We also did a slow cinema feature with the Béla Tarr film school in Sarajevo, directed by the Polish-Norwegian director Aleksandra Niemczyk. It premiered in the main competition at the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław in 2016,” they say.
*see Polish Film Magazine 1/2017 for details.
“I went to Maia Workshops in Italy, which was where I met Marta Habior. We immediately knew that we wanted to work together,” she says. The dynamic duo specializes in two areas: service production for crews from all over the world (they have already worked with filmmakers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, the United States, Germany, Spain, France, Norway and Denmark); and their own projects – international co-productions with partners from Mexico, Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to name just a few.
Networking is the key No Sugar Films is currently working on Grind/r, an adaptation of a play staged by the revered TR Warszawa theater. The project was presented by Habior during the EAVE workshops in 2017. They are also getting ready to shoot Volterra, directed by Jacek Borcuch, whose previous films, All That I Love and Lasting, screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Habior stresses the importance of industry meetings, workshops, and festivals: “Co-productions are not about financial deals, but about personal relations. It’s easier to develop projects and produce movies when you have a trustworthy partner that you like, under“We’re very open to working with artists stand, and share goals who might not have an with. That’s why I think impressive filmography, EAVE and the Berlinale but who have talent and are wonderful events for creative energy” producers. They are perfect for networking. Now, after a few years in the business, I know who to call in any European country when I see an interesting co-production project. Sometimes, a single call can really change your professional life.” When asked about the company name, they are pretty straightforward: “We thought that No Bullshit would be too aggressive. No Sugar Films, however, aptly describes the way we work with our various partners. Our relationships with the directors and companies for whom we provide service production are based on sincerity and openness. We don’t sugarcoat anything we say,” explains Habior.
HOW TO FIND MONEY IN POLAND Daugavpils
OPERATIONAL PROGRAM FOR FILM PRODUCTION Polish Film Institute
FOR PRODUCERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD Participation of Polish co-producer neccessary DEADLINES There are three application sessions per year
January 17-31, 2018
April 9 - 23, 2018
August 16 - 31, 2018
REQUIREMENTS The Polish producer’s own contribution must amount to no less than 5% of the amount of the subsidy
To be eligible for consideration, applications must include the following: script, director’s statement, synopsis, budget, estimated production costs, script rights agreement.
MINORITY CO-PRODUCTIONS •• A separate selection commission for minority co-productions; •• Bilateral treaty not necessary, even for non-European projects; •• One more session in 2018 (August 16-31).
FINANCING For a Polish co-producer, the maximum subsidy is:
FINANCING For a Polish co-producer, the maximum subsidy is:
2 000 000 approx. EUR 470 000
4 000 000 approx. EUR 932 000
MAX. PFI SUBSIDY
E IR T T GE EN UD B
REQUIREMENTS •• For bilateral co-productions, the Polish contribution must be at least 20% of the total budget; •• For multilateral co-productions, the Polish contribution must be at least 10% of the total budget; •• At least 80% of the subsidy must be spent in Poland; •• There must be at least one Polish Head of Department.
subsidy of up to 50% of the total budget
WHO TO BOTHER FOR MORE INFORMATION: Robert Baliński, tel.: +48 22 42 10 387, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
POLISH-GERMAN FILM FUND Funding institutions: Polish Film Institute, Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA), Mitteldeutsche M edienförderung (MDM) and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. FOR PRODUCERS FROM Poland | Germany Applications for development may be submitted on condition that an agreement has been signed by at least one Polish producer and one German producer. In the case of a production application the German producer must be based in the region in which the MDM or Medienboard operate. REQUIREMENTS Two sessions per year in 2018 (application forms and application dates are available on the websites on the Funds’ websites);
The budget of the film should not exceed EUR 750 000;
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT the maximum subsidy is:
For: animated films, creative documentaries, low budget narrative films and/or first films and/or films that present an innovative approach;
FOR CO-PRODUCTIONS the maximum subsidy is:
Television projects are eligible in exceptional cases, with the exception of television feature films.
Annual budget approximately:
WHO TO BOTHER FOR MORE INFORMATION: Robert Baliński, tel.: +48 22 42 10 387, email: email@example.com.
REGIONAL FILM FUNDS The Polish regional film funds solicit film projects by announcing competitions, usually once a year. Basic requirement for projects applying for support is the relation of the production with the local city or region. At least 100-150% of the funding (depending on the region) must be spent in region for the project to qualify for support. The Polish regional film funds differ in the size of their annual budgets, the types of support they offer, and the amounts that have to be spent locally. All the Polish film funds provide support of up to 50% of the film budget. This may be higher in the case of documentaries and animated films. Foreign producers are also welcome to submit projects, preferably as partners of Polish producers.
1 BIAŁYSTOK FILM FUND firstname.lastname@example.org 2. GDYNIA FILM FUND www.ckgdynia.pl 3 LOWER SILESIAN FILM FUND www.wroclawfilmcommission.pl/dkf 4 LUBLIN FILM FUND www.film.lublin.eu 5 ŁÓDŹ FILM FUND www.lodzfilmcommission.pl
6 KRAKOW REGIONAL FILM FUND www.film-commission.pl 7 MAZOVIA FILM FUND www.mff.mazovia.pl 8 PODKARPACKIE FILM FUND www.podkarpackiefilm.pl 9 REGIONAL FILM FUND POZNAŃ www.poznanfilmcommission.pl 10 SILESIAN FILM FUND www.silesiafilm.com
11 WESTERN POMERANIAN FILM FUND www.pomeraniafilm.pl 12 WARMIA-MASURIA FILM FUND www.ceik.eu
REGIONAL FILM COMMISSIONS If you want to make your film in Poland, these are your guides and trusted partners, always ready to roll
1 KRAKOW FILM COMMISSION
3 MAZOVIA WARSAW FILM
+48 508 120 413
+48 667 550 565
● Denial, dir. Mick Jackson
● True Crimes, dir. Alexandros Avranas
● All These Sleepless Nights, dir. Michał Marczak
● The Mighty Angel, dir. Wojciech Smarzowski
● The Man with a Magic Box, dir. Bodo Kox ● The Last Family, dir. Jan P. Matuszyński 5 POZNAN FILM COMMISSION www.poznanfilmcommission.pl
2 ŁÓDŹ FILM COMMISSION www.lodzfilmcommission.pl
4 PODKARPACKIE FILM COMMISSION
+48 691 637 752
+48 605 054 235
+48 721 288 004
● Chronology, dir. Kipp Tribble, Derik
● Maria Curie, dir. Marie Noelle
● Cold War, dir. Paweł Pawlikowski
● Speedway, dir. Dorota Kędzierzawska
● A Heart of Love, dir. Łukasz Ronduda
● Who Will Write Our Story, dir. Roberta
● Pardon, dir. Jan Jakub Kolski
● Mersal, dir. Atlee Kumar
● Ether, dir. Krzysztof Zanussi 6 SILESIA FILM COMMISSION www.silesiafilmcommission.pl email@example.com
+48 698 353 147 supported films: ● Valley of the Gods, dir. Lech Majewski ● Cold War, dir. Paweł Pawlikowski ● I Am Lying Now, dir. Paweł Borowski
marks the establishing the first film commission in Poland, in Łódź.
7 WROCLAW FILM COMMISSION www.wroclawfilmcommission.pl firstname.lastname@example.org +48 601 384 194 supported films: ● Bridge of Spies, dir. Steven Spielberg ● I, Olga Hepnarová, dir. Tomás Weinreb, Petr Kazda
FILM COMMISSION POLAND
● Spoor, dir. Agnieszka Holland
www.filmcommissionpoland.pl email@example.com +48 693 477 607
What a regional film com-
•a ssist in negotiations with
mission can do for you:
the owners of buildings,
FCP coordinates efforts to promote
• location scout;
facilities and land;
the Polish film industry and Polish
•a dminister and update
locations internationally. It serves as the first point of contact for filmmakers
a database of locations; •a ssist in obtaining
interested in working in Poland. All the
permits to film, use
regional film commissions are managed
independently but collaborate closely with Film Commission Poland.
• s horten the time required to obtain permits;
•a ssist in liaising with mu-
and contacts on local professionals and production companies; •p rovide information on
nicipal offices and gov-
the infrastructure and
film resources available
•a ssist in arranging accommodation often with discounts; •p rovide information
in their region.
POLISH NUMBERS Box-office in 2017
56 million admissions in Polish cinemas
13.5 million admissions to Polish films
2.96 million admissions to Letters to Santa 3
391 629 admissions to most popular co-production Marie Curie
Films that have received support from the Polish Film Institute’s minority co-production scheme (session 3/2017) TITLE
SUBSIDY IN EUR*
Adventures of a Mathematician
The Hunter’s Son
Last Pagans of Europe
Lauris and Raitis Abele
Arkana Studio Dorota Roszkowska
Magdalena Szymków, Marie Elisa Scheidt, Evdokia Moskwina, Stephan Komandarev and Linda Dombrovszky
Silver Frame Stanisław Zaborowski
*1 EUR = 4.26 PLN ADVERTISMENT
A new style of architecture was introduced in a Poland devastated by WWII: Socialist Realism. It has outlived its creator, the communist regime, and is ready to be reborn as great film locations
©© FOTOLIA (2); MAREK BAZAK/EAST NEWS
1 Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw was a gift from Joseph Stalin to the people of Poland. It took 3 years to build (1952-1955).
2 Constitution Square in Warsaw is great example of large-scale urban planning for the nation (sculpted).
3 Palace of Culture in DÄ…browa GĂłrnicza (Silesia region), despite years passing still serves as art and culture centre.
8 5 The Grand Theatre in Łódź is still working, and even offers it’s space to Polish film festivals. 6 Nowa Huta is a district of Kraków and something of a “city within a city” built from scratch. 7 Ministry of Finance buidling in Warsaw.
8, 11 Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks Is this an elegant cafe (8) or a conference room (11)? Neither. It’s the inside of a interior of a steel factory.
9 Katowice is a city in Upper Silesia. Between 1953 and 1956, it was called Stalinogród. Not surprisingly, then, it boasts a lot of socialist realist architecture.”
10 Nowe Tychy in Silesia region is another example of ambitious communist urban planning.
©© FOTOLIA (4); MAREK BAZAK/EAST NEWS; WITOLD DOBROWOLSKI/REPORTER; TOMASZ JODŁOWSKI/REPORTER; PRZEMEK WALOCHA (PRISTIS MOVIES)
If you want to learn more about Polish locations or shooting permits or find a location scout, see LOCATION GUIDE POLAND
available at www.filmcommissionpoland.pl.
LOOK DEEPER Our country has stunning mountains, lakes and forests. No doubt about it. We suggest, however, that instead of looking above ground, you go below
THE WIELICZKA SALT MINE (on this page) is situated in Małopolska region, within the Kraków metropolitan area. It’s 327 meters deep and over 287 km long. Countless films can be shot in Wieliczka.
WANT TO SEE MORE? Check out the latest Film Commission Poland publication. You’ll fall in love with Poland’s diverse and versatile locations. www.filmcommissionpoland.pl/about-fcp/ poland-lookbook/
©© FOTOLIA (5); MWFC
WARSAW WATER FILTERS were designed by William Lindley in the 1880s and have been working ever since.
WARSAW’S METRO (bottom left corner) is a pride of the city. The first line connects the city’s southern and northern districts, while second line, which is still being expanded, will connect its eastern and western districts.
POGÓRZE MINE in the Lower Silesian city of Kowary. It was built after WWII and closed in 1958. It is now one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions.
REMAINS OF THE DAY
TOUR DE POLOGNE Martin Blaney
After attending film festivals from Rio de Janeiro to Moscow and countless others in between, I found myself serving on my first FIPRESCI jury at the Warsaw International Filmfest in the autumn of 2005. This was also the first year that Warsaw had hosted a jury from the Federation of International Critics. While in Warsaw, I was able to catch some of the latest Polish films, e.g. Dorota Kędzierzawska’s I Am. These were shown in the Warsaw Screenings as part of the festival’s CentEast Market launched that year. Since then, I’ve found that Warsaw has proved to be a useful stopping off point to catch some interesting new Polish productions whenever I miss
out on New Horizons in Wrocław or the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia held earlier in the year. 2017 saw the creation of a new event – Warsaw Industry Days – as a successor to the CentEast Market, but with the traditional Warsaw Screenings still an integral part of the new setup, so that films like Urszula Antoniak’s Beyond Words and Juliusz Machulski’s Volta get to be screened. In 2010, I found out why there is such a buzz about the New Horizons Film Festival in Wrocław. Trying to get tickets to the new Polish films on the program was a nigh impossibility, as the tickets sold out within seconds of the online registration going live after midnight every day.
One consolation, though, was that I had an opportunity to discover the films of the late Andrzej Munk in that year’s retrospective. A year later, I was back in Wrocław as a member of the International Jury for the New Polish Films Competition, together with Hungarian filmmaker Györgi Pálfi and Thessaloniki’s Dimitri Eipides. One big advantage was that I wouldn’t have to be lightning fast at clicking online to get one of those coveted tickets anymore. But this proved to be last year that this competition and jury was held at New Horizons. Festival director Roman Gutek realized that many visiting foreign guests had shared my frustration at not being able to get tickets to
©© PRIVATE ARCHIVE; BTW PHOTOGRAPHERS
Renowned film journalist and Screen Daily staff writer, Martin Blaney, sums up his travels to Poland’s most important film festivals.
the Polish films, which was one of the main reasons they had come to Lower Silesia in the first place. Cue the Polish Days. These were launched in 2012 as an industry event for international distributors, festival programmers, film funders, and producers, who come from all over the world to hear Polish filmmakers pitch their projects, see works in progress, and watch closed screenings of brand new films destined to premiere at other festivals later in the year. Sandwiched between the industry events at the Odessa and Locarno film festivals, the Polish Days have swiftly become a permanent fixture for those wanting to have a comprehensive overview of the current state of Polish cinema. Meanwhile, the Polish Film Festival, which is held every September in the Baltic Sea port of Gdynia, is a weeklong celebration of Polish cinema past, present and future. The festival hospitality team go to great pains to make you feel at home. The only drawback for foreign guests is that everything seems geared almost exclusively to the Polish film community - even many of the accredited guests from abroad are expat Poles, who run Polish cultural institutes or film festivals. Trying to get And finally, tickets to the new the Kraków Film Polish films on Festival, which the program was a is one of the oldest in Europe high impossibility dedicated to documentary, animation and short films, has become an indispensible showcase for Polish documentary filmmakers. Two years ago, I was able to see this with my own eyes when I was invited to serve on the festival’s all-male International Jury with the Berlinale’s Wieland Speck, Polish filmmaker Piotr Rosołowski, and others. Although we were judging a line-up of international titles, our main prizes actually went to three young women producer-director teams from Poland: Call Me Marianna, Casa Blanca and The Queen of Silence! So, there’s a good chance that our paths will cross if you decide to make your way to one of these Polish film festivals in the coming months in your search for the very best that Polish cinema can offer.
KEY FILM FESTIVALS in Poland APRIL/MAY MAY/JUNE OFF CAMERA International Festival of Independent Cinema kraków This festival presents works by young filmmakers from all over the world. www.offcamera.pl
Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival warsaw A selection of the feature‑length documentaries. www.docsag.pl Film Music Festival festival devoted to film music. www.fmf.fm
Kraków Film Festival festival presenting documentaries, animations and short features. www.krakowfilmfestival.pl kraków An
Lubuskie Film Summer of films from the post‑communist block. www.llf.pl
łagów A festival
JULY/AUGUST New Horizons International Film Festival wrocław A round‑up of films blazing the trail for new trends in cinema. www.nowehoryzonty.pl Two Riversides Film and Art Festival kazimierz dolny An event that brings together film and other fields of art. www.dwabrzegi.pl
JUNE “Youth and Cinema” Debut Film Festival koszalin Festival for young Polish filmmakers with sidebar section with international debuts. www.mlodziifilm.pl
JULY Transatlantyk Film Festival łódź Film festival combining unique programming, music and debates on current social issues. www.transatlantyk.org Animator International Animated Film Festival poznań Animated films from all over the world. www.animator‑festival.com
SEPTEMBER Polish Film Festival yearly review of of new Polish feature films. www.festiwalgdynia.pl gdynia The
OCTOBER Warsaw Film Festival warsaw A-class festival.The programme consists of features and documentaries from around the world. www.wff.pl
American Film Festival wrocław New American feature and documentary films. www.americanfilmfestival.pl
DECEMBER Ale Kino! International Young Audience Film Festival poznań Films for young viewers. www.alekino.com
NOVEMBER Etiuda & Anima International Film Festival kraków Student films and animations are shown here. www.etudiaandanima.com Camerimage International Film Festival bydgoszcz This film festival is devoted to the art of cinematography. www.camerimage.pl
REMAINS OF THE DAY
ONCE UPON A TIME IN KRAKÓW... Krzysztof Gierat
film commission to support film production back then, the city did a wonderful job. All the necessary locations were made available to the crew, and the city even rented a residence to Kraków Film Festival director, accommodate Spielberg’s family. This Krzysztof Gierat, relates something time, everything was confidential – by contrast with de Niro’s visit – and that happened in his beloved only a select few were able to meet the city not so long ago filmmakers, unless they were hired as extras or to work on a set. And in the evenings, many interesting things went on in the bars in Kraków’s KaSometime between the Polish Round York City. When De Niro finally landed, Table Agreement and the fall of the he wanted to visit Auschwitz first. So zimierz district, where Ben Kingsley, Berlin wall, actor Robert De Niro we changed our plans – we started Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were screening the film, but stopped when visited Kraków. We saw this as Poland often guests. For example, they would de Niro showed up to cut the ribbon. At symbolically opening up to the world. listen to a band comprised of young that moment, he was handed a bouquet It was the fall of 1989. Rumor had it film buffs: Borys Lankosz (who is by a little girl dressed in traditional that de Niro would be playing Lech now a successful director) and Abel Kraków folk costume. Many years later, Wałęsa in a Hollywood film. The two Korzeniowski (two-time Golden that little girl, who happened to be my had even met. The American actor was Globes-nominated composer). One daughter Marynia, became the mansupposed to be making a brief visit to day, I had the honor of meeting SpielKraków to officially re-open the Apollo aging director of another legendary berg, when Polish producer Lew Rywin Cinema, which had just undergone Kraków cinema – Kino Pod suggested that a long renovation. We prepared a small Baranami. De Niro’s short my distribution Rumor had it that retrospective of De Niro’s films, to be visit naturally concluded company, Graffiti, De Niro would concluded by a screening of The Deer with a dinner. This was held would be the best be playing Lech Hunter, especially for the occasion. We in the only elegant restaucandidate to release eagerly awaited our guest at Balice Schindler’s List in rant in the city at the time – Wałęsa in a Airport. The plane was late. SuddenPoland. A year later, Wierzynek. We walked there Hollywood film as deputy mayor of from the cinema. We cut ly, instead of De Niro, someone else Kraków, I was orthrough the city square, and came into view – the legendary Polish yet there were no bodyguards or patheatre director, Tadeusz Kantor, who ganizing one of three world premieres was returning from Spain with his of the film. parazzi in sight. That would simply not troupe, Cricot 2. Oblivious of Kantor’s After the screening, we invited be possible today. impetuous character I asked him to Spielberg to eat pierogis with us at Several years later, the city was stay with us and greet a great actor rocked by the news that another a restaurant in in Kazimierz district. on behalf of the people of Kraków. One of our guests was the writer Roma American filmmaker – none other than Surprisingly, Kantor agreed, but he Ligocka, a cousin of Roman Polański. Steven Spielberg – wanted to shoot his asked me to tell him about De Niro, Much to her surprise, she recognized next film, Schindler’s List, here. While as he had never heard of him. On the herself in one of the characters in this seemed an obvious choice, locaother hand, De Niro knew exactly who Schindler’s List. Her book, The Girl in The tions like Zabłocie and Płaszów could Kantor was, and they set up a meetRed Coat, was published seven years have been built in a studio lot. And after the premiere. even though there was no regional ing for when Kantor next visited New
©© JACEK DOMIŃSKI/REPORTER; PRIVATE ARCHIVE
After the screening (of Schindler’s List), we invited Spielberg to eat pierogis with us at a restaurant in the Kazimierz district. One of our guests was the writer Roma Ligocka, a cousin of Roman Polański. Much to her surprise, she recognized herself in one of the characters in Schindler’s List. Her book, The Girl in The Red Coat, was published seven years after the premiere.
Polish Film Magazine is a publication prepared by Film Commission Poland. It includes information about the most recent Polish films (both c...
Published on Feb 14, 2018
Polish Film Magazine is a publication prepared by Film Commission Poland. It includes information about the most recent Polish films (both c...