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Of Animals and Men

International documentary film competition at the 59th Krakow Film Festival.

An Israeli lawyer defending Palestinian terrorists, a Serbian writer acting as a spokesperson to the Aborigines, Polish refugees who find shelter in Africa and to top it off stories about humans and animals who share one fate. Each year, the Krakow Film Festival international documentary film competition showcases the most electrifying stories and the most fascinating protagonists from all over the world.

"Several of the competition documentaries is sure to complicate the viewer's image of the world. Their subject are the walls that we put up in our own heads, the life that we live in the shadows of gone wars and the resurrected ghosts of our past - sometimes scary, sometimes grotesquely funny. In our competition we’ve found a place both for the films of masters as well as works of the debutantes, the observation of reality and creative documentaries, as well as a completely new genre of documentary" comments Anita Piotrowska, the Festival's selector.

The competition selection includes two Polish productions. The first will open this year's Festival. "The wind. A Documentary Thriller" directed by Michał Bielawski  observes how the destructive wind blows trough Podhale and disrupts the life of its inhabitants, influences the wellbeing animals and leaves lasting wounds in nature. The second Polish title "Of Animals and Men" directed by Łukasz Czajka, is  a dramatic story, full of fascinating archive materials, following the Żabińscy, a married couple who hid over 300 escapees from the Jewish ghetto in the Warsaw Zoo. They gave them shelter until the break of the Warsaw Uprising, when the house of wild animals stopped being an asylum to the debased, Jewish human wrecks.

The Israeli films have a strong representation at this year's Festival.  "Advocate" (dir. Rachel Lech Jones, Philippe Bellaiche) is a film portrait of an exceptional lawyer, who devoted her whole professional life to the fight for human rights. Lea Tsemel, an Israeli woman, have been endangering her own life as well as the lives of her family for the past 50 years with her tireless court defense of Palestinians accused of being terrorists.  Unes, the protagonist of the "Around The Bed of A Dying Collaborator" (dir. David Ofek, Tal Michael) is considered to be a traitor by his kinsmen, just like Lea. Years ago he brought shame to his Arab family when he agreed to co-operate with the Israeli secret service. In the face of death he struggles with fear, shame and guilt.

In turn, the protagonist of the "Mussolini's Sister" (dir. Juna Sulieman) has lived for so many years, that her biography could be shared among several Arab women. Although she lives  enclosed in four walls, she is still trying to control the world. The old lady from Nazareth has not yet said her final word and she presents her own, only right views trough the lens of her granddaughter.

The mayor of the Calabrian city Riace in the document "But Now Is Perfect " (dir. Carin Goeijers) found a way to deal with the depopulation of his town: he allowed for the refugees to settle there. When the authorities stopped financing his model project it led to the destruction of the newly created community. One of the tragic victims of this change was a young Nigerian woman. In "The Border Fence", directed by the outstanding Austrian documentary filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter, we get to see the picturesque and idyllic Tyrol, which became the scenery of changes taking place in today's Europe in connection with the closing of the border between Austria and Italy, to stop the influx of refugees. From the relations of the inhabitants of this region as well as the tourists, emerges an image that is quite different from the media reports.

Jonathan Kolodziej Durand, director of the documentary "Memory Is Our Homeland" tells a story about refugees from a different perspective, set in another era, with the help of unpublished archives and personal film diaries. He sets out with a camera on a journey, filled with mystery and insinuation, following in the footsteps of his Polish grandmother, one of the millions deported to Siberia during the Second World War and one of the tens of thousands who traveled through half of the world in order to find shelter in Eastern Africa. Nowadays, on the outskirts of New York, among the tons of used plastic, other emigrants live their lives. They are a couple of outcasts, heroes of the "The Fourth Kingdom" (dir. Àlex Lora Cercós, Adan Aliaga), who did not fulfill their "American dream". Working on waste segregation, they wonder about the nature of the Universe, they reminisce about their weaknesses and failures, they nurse homeless kittens and ... they still dream, accompanied by the theater scenes of  a troupe the Children Theater.

The dirty, rubbish filled streets of Calcutta are the living space of other eccentrics. "Pariah Dog" (dir. Jesse Alk) shows several caretakers of Indian street dogs. A sad but at the same time uplifting world emerges from these kaleidoscopic images. Serbian writer Sreten Božić  is a bit of a different weirdo"Wongar" (dir. Andrijan Stojko), who looks after six tamed dingo dogs and looks for close contact with nature and those who have left, away from the hustle and bustle of civilization.

"Kabul, City in the Wind" (dir. Aboozar Amini) is one of the most troubled cities in the world, that tries to live normally despite it all. In parallel threads, we meet Abas' driver, whose bus is often broken, and two boys who have to deal with their father's absence. This contemporary portrait of Afghans corresponds in a very exciting way with the world of American veterans of the war in Afghanistan, whose stories are filled with pain and trauma that we will encounter in the movie "Stress" directed by Florian Baron.

A 30-year-old man from a small village in the north of Iran is the hero of the movie "A House for You" (dir. Mahdi Bakhshi Moqadam). In spite of life tragedies, fatal illness and bankruptcy, he makes new, life-changing decisions. The protagonists of the Argentine documentary " Cerro Quemado " (dir. Juan Pablo Ruiz) embark on a journey in search of their grandmother and mother - the last settler of an abandoned region and rediscover their Inca roots on the forgotten lands of their ancestors.

"Heat singers" directed by Nadia Parfan follows a thermal energy enterprise from Ivano-Frankivsk, which cares about the cultural needs of its employees. Once a week they can break away from their daily routine, dilapidated infrastructure and strenuous clients to take part in the company's choir rehearsals. The folk and patriotic songs that they sing become a bridge between the past communist era and the new political and economic reality. They help to ease the shock of transformation and allow them hyst ti be with each other – just like in the good old days.

Krakow Film Festival is the only festival in Poland included in very prestigious group of festivals qualifying for an Academy Award Oscar in the category of full-length documentaries. It is also a part of renowned group of festivals recommending full-length documentary films for the European Film Awards. The festival is accredited by the FIAPF and the EFFE Label.

List of films qualified for the documentary competition:

  • “Adwokatka” / “Advocate”, dir. Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche, 110’, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, 2019
  • “Chór ciepłowników” / “Heat Singers”, dir. Nadia Parfan, 64’, Ukraine, 2019
  • “Czwarte królestwo” / “The Fourth Kingdom”, dir. Àlex Lora Cercós, Adan Aliaga, 83’, Spain, USA, Mexico, 2019
  • “Dom dla ciebie” / “A House for You”, dir. Mahdi Bakhshi Moqadam, 70’, Iran, 2019
  • “Granica” / “The Border Fence”, dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 112’, Austria, 2018
  • “Kabul, miasto na wietrze” / “Kabul, City in the Wind”, dir. Aboozar Amini, 85’, Holland, Afganistan, Germany, Japan, 2018
  • “Miasto psów” / “Pariah Dog”, dir. Jesse Alk, 77’, USA, 2019
  • “Naszą ojczyzną jest pamięć” / “Memory Is Our Homeland”, dir. Jonathan Kolodziej Durand, 90’, Canada, 2018
  • “O zwierzętach i ludziach” / “Of Animals and Men”, dir. Łukasz Czajka, 55’, Poland, 2019
  • “Przy łóżku kolaboranta” / “Around the Bed of a Dying Collaborator”, dir. David Ofek, Tal Michael, 51’, Israel, 2018
  • “Siostra Mussoliniego” / “Mussolini's Sister”, dir. Juna Sulieman, 71’, Israel, 2018
  • “Spalone wzgórze” / “Cerro Quemado”, dir. Juan Pablo Ruiz, 63’, Argentina, 2019
  • “Stres” / “Stress”, dir. Florian Baron, 83’, Germany, USA, 2018
  • “Teraz jest świetnie” / “But Now Is Perfect”, dir. Carin Goeijers, 55’, Holand, 2018
  • “Wiatr. Thriller dokumentalny” / “The Wind. A Documentary Thriller”, dir. Michał Bielawski, 75’, Poland, Slovakia, 2019
  • “Wongar” / “Wongar”, dir. Andrijana Stojković, 60’, Serbia, 2018

The 59th Krakow Film Festival will take place on May 26 - June 2, 2019


Last week, on 4 April, 2019 CineStar exhibition chain opened it latest multiplex in Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of the new DELTA PLANET shopping mall.

The new 6-screen CineStar multiplex is the most modern cinema site in the country. It is equipped by the latest standard introduced by CineStar Cinemas, with reclinable leather 729 seats.

A completely new design concept of a multifunctional space encompassing not merely cinema screens, but also a designer bar with a library and kids playrooms (birthday party rooms), is intended to make the new cinema site into a favourite place for the entire family entertainment in the city of Banja Luka.

Following the trends set by CineStar in the region, the Banja Luka multiplex also boasts a variety of specially equipped screens, which include an "eXtreeme" screen, CineStar's special format that guarantees viewers a special experience of the film on a larger screen with a more powerful sound and a more intense experience, a 4DXTM screen with motion chairs, effects such as scent, wind, water, fog, and bubbles, and special lighting effects to provide film experience that captures all five senses, and offers a fully immersive cinema experience and the feeling as almost being a part of the film. In addition, exclusively in CineStar Banja Luka, RealD screens have been upgraded to "Ultimate RealD 3D" technology with engineered screen surface that produces a much higher contrast which reflects the maximum amount of light possible - creating a clean and precise image to the viewers and enabling the best possible 3D experience.

The site is fully equipped with new generation Barco CLP laser projectors based on blue laser and phosphor wheel technology that guarantees real pleasure of watching films on wall-to-wall silver screens, along with the latest Dolby Digital EX sound technology.

Through its investments cycles since its inception in 2003, Blitz-CineStar has thus far opened 22 multiplex sites in the region, including Banja Luka, with a total of 138 digital screens a total seating capacity of over 21,500, which makes it the largest and most successful theatrical exhibition in the region of former Yugoslavia. By the end of 2019, CineStar is planning to open its 23rd site in Belgrade, within the Ada Mall. The site is expected to be one of the most prestigious and most beautiful and prestigious cinema sites not just in this region, and the total capacity of CineStar exhibition chain subsequently will be up to 145 screens and almost 23,000 seats.





HD photographs are available for free use and can be downloaded here: : https://we.tl/t-zm6VH45isD (photographer Ivan Ivanisevic)

KRAKOW: Two Polish films will screen in the international documentary competition of the 59th Krakow Film Festival, which runs from 26 May to 2 June 2019.

Viewers can watch Slovak, Estonian and Czech films as part of the currently running Visions du Reel Media Library project.

Over two weeks, the 24th edition of VIFF Kino Pavasaris screened 170 films from established directors and rising new talents. Richard Billingham’s feature debut, an autobiographical drama “Ray & Liz”, was chosen as the Best Film in the European Debut Competition, out of 13 films hoping to take the title.

This year’s European Debut Competition had exceptionally strong entries, including the Golden Bear-winning daring examination of intimacy “Touch Me Not” by Adina Pintilie, Darko Štante’s debut feature exploring the life of a troubled teenager “Consequences”, as well as the true-to-its-title “Sauvage” by Camille Vidal-Naquet.

The jury chose Billingham’s debut feature for it’s vivid, powerful and human depiction of a family, a place and a time, filmed with precision and dark, unsettling humour.

Danish director Rasmus Kloster Bro received the special FIPRESCI prize for his claustrophobic and intense debut feature “Cutterhead”. Debuting Lithuanian director Aistė Žegulytė was awarded the Cineuropa prize for her film “Animus Animalis (A story about people, animals and things)”.  The jury described the feature as “A genuine and unexpected discovery that makes us feel what life is like in the middle of death and what death is like in the middle of life.”

The VIFF audience also cast a vote for their favourite film, with “Capernaum” by Nadine Labaki easily taking home the title. Viewers will have the chance to see this compassionate Oscar-nominated drama in film theatres after the festival ends.

One of the most prominent Polish directors Krzysztof Zanussi received a lifetime achievement award during VIFF Kino Pavasaris. “With his work, Zanussi has made an immense impact on Polish and European films, and has inspired many young debuting filmmakers. He is one of the closest and most cherished friends of Vilnius Film Festival,” said the festival’s executive director Algirdas Ramaška.

The 10th audiovisual industry conference Meeting Point – Vilnius also awarded the best in-development films and young talents. The main MPV award for the best in-development project went to “My Thoughts are Silent” by Ukrainian director Antonio Lukich. The film follows a 25-year-old Vadym who is somewhat surprisingly joined by his mother on a life-changing journey. The Karolis Kaupinis directed “Nova Lithuania”, produced by Marija Razgutė and company M-Films, won the AVAKA award for Best Lithuanian Pitch. The film depicts an interwar Baltic geographer and a prime minister planning to save their homeland as World War II approaches. The film is set to be released this year.

The 24th VIFF Kino Pavasaris reached some new personal records, having screened films in 19 Lithuanian cities and welcomed more than 125 000 viewers.


About the festival:

The 24th Vilnius International Film Festival “Kino Pavasaris” will take place March 21–April 4, 2019. Last year’s festival was visited by 116 551 filmgoers, becoming the largest cinema event in Lithuania and one of the most notable film festivals in Eastern Europe. For more information, visit www.kinopavasaris.lt

List of all the winners



CAPERNAUM, dir. Nadine Labaki



SUMMER SURVIVORS, dir. Marija Kavtaradzė



FAMILY UNIT, dir. Titas Laucius





Ray & Liz, dir. Richard Billingham



One Day, dir. Zsófia Szilágyi



Lola Dueñas, Journey to a Mother’s Room, dir. Celia Rico Clavellino



Paulius Markevičius, Summer Survivors, dir. Marija Kavtaradzė



Animus Animalis (A story about people, animals and things), dir. Aistė Žegulytė



The Night of the Plastic Bags, dir. Gabriel Harel



In Between, dir. Samir Karahoda



Cutterhead, dir. Rasmus Kloster Bro

Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival announces features lineup

Approaching its 14th edition, the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival (HÕFF), the biggest genre film festival in the Baltic countries, has unveiled its feature film programme consisting of 30 films from 15 countries. HÕFF takes place from the 25th until the 28th of April.

The main programme is headed by the surprise zombie comedy hit from Japan One Cut of the Dead (dir Shin'ichirô Ueda), a student film shot in eight days that has earned its 27 thousand dollar budget back a thousand fold, earning over 27 million dollars in Japanese distribution alone, having won awards at over 24 festivals already. The story follows a small film crew with an overambitious director, shooting a zombie flick in an abandoned factory who come across an actual flock of zombies.

The US will be represented by several films, including Body at the Brighton Rock by up and coming director Roxanne Benjamin (director of segments in XXSouthbound), a SXSW-premiering survival tale of a young park ranger who finds a corpse in the wild. The forest is also the essential element of Headhunter by director Jordan Downey, a gory tale set in a mythical medieval kingdom where a hunter of forest monsters confronts his biggest nemesis.

The opening film, a genre hybrid Freaks directed by Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein and starring Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern, is a sci-fi action family drama set in a dystopic near-future America, where the government hunts down people suspected of having genetic mutations after an unexplained global disaster. It’s impressive festival run includes Toronto, Vancouver, Sitges, Trieste and Brussels.

Another sci-fi entry that arrives after an impressive international run is the Swedish country invasion / action thriller / love story The Unthinkable (dir Victor Danell as Crazy Pictures). It is an international hit that has already sold rights in over 100 countries and blown the minds of viewers and critics alike with the smart directing and enormous production value that has created Hollywood-level special effects and action sequences, achieved at a minuscule 2 million dollar budget.

Another entry from Sweden is Koko-di, koko-da, the next film by auteur Johannes Nyholm who won the Special Prize of the Jury at San Sebastian for his last film The Giant. Offering a disturbing, violent and fantastical setting to a couple suffering grief after losing their daughter, the film has had an impressive festival run including Sundance, Rotterdam and Gothenburg among others.

Latin America is represented by two critical successes, the first of which isMurder Me, Monster. The Cannes premiering film is set in the bleakly shot Argentinian countryside, where the story follows police investigators on the trail of a serial murderer, director Alejandro Fidel’s (The Wild Ones) slowburner has been hailed for creating an unsettling, uncompromised atmosphere of terror, rural alienation and xenophobia.

Arriving from Brazil, The Nightshifter is a story chronicling the psychological breakdown of a morgue worker in a big, violent city. The frightening-fantasy-turned-supernatural-horror is imbued with an especially dark streak of humor balanced skillfully with gory horror elements by the promising first time director Dennison Ramalho.

Paying homage to an animation legend

An honorary guest of this year’s edition is Vladimir Tarasov, a Russian animator and animation director who is best known for his Soviet-era sci-fi short films like The PassContract and Contact - the Yellow Submarine-inspired psychedelic journey that brought him several awards at international festivals and is generally considered his calling card as a filmmaker.

Tarasov has also been active in promoting the discipline of animation, having worked in the union’s biggest animation studio Soyuzmultfilm first as an animator, then as an art director and finally, from 1970 until 1991 as its director. He was also an organiser and founder of the film schools Zee Institute of Creative Art in India and Tarbiat Modares University in Iran.

HÕFF will screen five of the director’s films: Cowboys in the City (1973), Contact (1978), The Return (1980), Button (1982), The Pass (1988).

HÕFF is organised by the team at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.


Film still: One Cut of the Dead, director Shin'ichirô Ueda
Film still: The Unthinkable, director Victor Danell / Crazy Pictures
Film still: The Returndirector Vladimir Tarasov
Festival still: average festival goers at the 2018 opening (photo by Aron Urb)


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Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), in co-operation with the Czech Film Fund, presents 11 feature films and 3 shorts of Věra Chytilová. The retrospective of the radical and anarchic Czech filmmaker is accompanied by 4 films by Czech filmmakers, Chytilová’s former students, and will be held in New York from Wednesday, April 10 through Thursday, April 18 2019.

The year Chytilová would have turned 90, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York City, put on a retrospective to celebrate this icon with a survey of her career. First, the early films, centering on the theme of women searching for their limits and daring to surpass them (Ceiling,A Bagful of FleasSomething Different).

Next, her exceptional contributions to the Czechoslovak New Wave canon, with Automat Svět(from the omnibus Pearls of the Deep) and the rebellious and convention-breaking Daisies (5th best film of all time directed by a woman according to IndieWire) and Fruits of Paradise, her most important collaborations with Kučera and Krumbachová.

Then come the films from the period after the ban on her was lifted: The Apple Game, which put male weakness on full display, and Panelstory, a blunt exposé of the shallowness and realities of a system striving for communism only in name. The director’s lesser-known work from the 1980s was represented here by The Jester and the QueenThe Very Late Afternoon of a Faun, and her take on teen horror, Wolf’s Hole.

The post-1989 period, when her country abandoned the communist dream for the promise of freedom in capitalism, Chytilová showed her satirical might in The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgodday and the edgy rape revenge farce Traps. Her final film, Pleasant Moments, marks a return to her overarching theme of a woman looking to find her own voice and strength to follow her own path.

To complete the retrospective, BAM Film presented the extraordinary documentary portraitJourney, by Jasmina Blažević, and a sampling of recent works by Chytilová’s students at the Prague film academy FAMU, who carry on her torch of personal filmmaking: Olmo Omerzu’s ironic melodrama of family implosion, Family Film; the fearlessly feminist indictment of sexual assault and the Slovak mental health system Filthy (Tereza Nvotová); and the biting comedy of quarter-life anxiety Dreamers (Jitka Rudolfová).

Read more about the fierce personality and piercing intellect of Věra Chytilová HERE.

Find out more about the programme and the detailed schedule of screenings HERE.

The Lithuanian Film Centre (LFC) announces that the upgraded Lithuanian 30% Tax Incentive scheme is now active. The incentive came into effect in January 2014 as a new policy measure to foster local and foreign film production in Lithuania. As of 2019, the incentive provides an opportunity to save up to 30% of the film’s production budget through a private investment scheme. The legislation has been renewed for the next five-year period.

The tax incentive scheme is managed by the LFC and is available for the productions of feature films, TV dramas, documentaries, and animated films. These include domestically produced, co-produced or commissioned films (produced under the service agreement).

The film tax incentive is only applicable for films that meet the approved production and content requirements. In order to apply for support, one must have a Lithuania-registered company or a Lithuanian partner company, at least 80% of eligible film production costs must be incurred in Lithuania, and the total amount of eligible expenditure in Lithuania must be at least 43,000 EUR.

During the first 5-year period when the tax incentive for film production was offered, Lithuania managed to firmly establish its position in the market of audiovisual services exports and successfully compete with neighboring, Western European and other countries. Local film professionals have earned the trust of the most prominent film production companies. The country’s filming profile has been rising in recent years, with high-profile big-budget dramas. Lithuania has hosted numerous major international productions, including HBO’s Chernobyl, BBC’s War and Peace, Netflix’s Tokyo Trial, and many more.

More information: www.lkc.lt/en

PRAGUE: Polish director Agnieszka Holland began filming the Czech/Irish/Polish/Slovak coproduction Charlatan in the Czech Republic on 1 April 2019. Filming will continue throughout the months of April and June in Central Bohemia.

ZAGREB: Croatian based exhibitor Blitz-CineStar has been named the 2019 recipient of the International Exhibitor of the Year award.