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There are only few days left to apply for the 5th edition of the ARISTOTELES WORKSHOP, open to creative documentary filmmakers, DPs, editors and producers from Central and Eastern Europe, a programme which is co-financed by the French-German TV Channel ARTE.

(All parties and events strictly require a personal invitation from the organizers)

Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Tomorrow Will be Better

{mosimage}Dorota Kędzierzawska's Gdynia competition film Tomorrow Will be Better tells the story of three homeless Russian boys who travel to Poland in search of a better life, with the universal hope that life is different and better somewhere else.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Rite of Passage

{mosimage}In Rite of Passage, director Janusz Majewski creates an image of turbulent events in post-WWII Poland, seen trough the eyes of boys on the verge of their adult life.
Rite Of Passage is a coming of age story evolving around Ludwik, a fourteen year old who arrives in newly freed Cracow with his sister and parents right after the end of WWII. The boy is enrolled in a good gymnasium where he makes new friendships and meets his new role model, sixteen year old Marek.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Million Dollars

{mosimage}With his Gdynia main competition film Million Dollar, Polish director Janusz Kondratiuk crafts a fast-paced comedy about contemporary Poland with people adrift following the transformation of the country.

The story follows Bożena, a pregnant official in a big bank, who is convinced that there is no real life without shopping. Surrounded by the glamorous and fake reality of her work place, she is disappointed with living in an old apartment house in Gdańsk. Her husband, an unsuccessful klezmer saxophonist, also doesn't match the lifestyle that she dreams of for herself while watching commercials. When she discovers that her neighbor, an old and recently widowed lady, has inherited one million dollars, Bożena and some neighbors set out to intercept the small fortune and make their dreams come true.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Silence

{mosimage}Based on a true story, Sławomir Pstrong's debut film Silence explores the lives of families who lost their children in a tragic accident. The film will premiere at the Gdyia festival (www.fpff.pl) before going on to other film festival screenings.

In 2003, a group of Polish high school students set out to fulfill their dream of climbing Mount Rysy when a surprise avalanche killed eight members of the excursion. The film looks the parents who had lost their children, and the emptiness and above all the struggle to live "after". Each of them has a different way of coping with the suffering, as they unknowingly drift apart.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition Three Minutes. 21:37

{mosimage}In Three Minutes. 21:37 director Maciej Ślesicki explores the image of contemporary Poland in the moment of grief after the death of Pope John Paul II. The cast of popular Polish actors, some from the director's previous commercial successes, includes Bogusław Linda, Piotr Adamczyk, Marcin Dorociński, Andrzej Grabowski, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Cezary Pazura and Marian Dziędziel.

Three minutes. 21:37 looks at Poles joined by faith a week after the death of the Pope, when millions of lights were turned off across the country as a manifest of unanimous grief. The plot covers four parallel stories of people who will unconsciously impact each other by their behaviour and actions.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: If You Go Away

{mosimage}If You Go Away, the feature film debut from Ewa Stankiewicz, is the emotional story of two people who struggle to find themselves after personal loss. Stankiewicz,a graduate of Łódź Film School, co-directed Touch Me (with Anna Jodowska), which was awarded the Best Independent Film Award at 2003 PFP in Gdynia (www.fpff.pl).

In If You Go Away, A young woman and an ex-friar meet in a hospital while carrying for dying loved ones. Despite the apparent attraction the two fail to make a connection and even get into a conflict. After a year she fails to cope with her suffering after the death of her mother and sets out to the city, where he accidentally saves her life. The night that they spend together gives them hope to get their lives back on track.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Joanna

Feliks Falk, one of the masters of Polish cinema, returns with Joanna, a moving story of love and courage set during WWII.

{mosimage}Joanna is a story of a young Polish pianist who has to cope alone while she waits for her husband to come back from the front. She meets a little Jewish girl named Rose whose mother was taken by the German soldiers and decides to take care of her. Joanna knows that she cannot keep Rose with her as she is already under observation, but she fails to find a hiding spot for Rose and is forced to become the lover of a German officer in return for protection. Her Polish family and members of the fighting underground decide to punish her for fraternizing with the enemy.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Little Rose

{mosimage} Director Jan Kidawa-Błoński's Little Rose is a story about a dangerous love triangle set in the Poland of the 1960's, where betrayal could have a political context. The script, by Kidawa-Błoński and Maciej Karpiński, is based on the character of Paweł Jasienica, a famous writer.

He marries a younger, beautiful "girl from nowhere" despite the indignation of his colleagues. Blinded by love, he doesn't suspect that his controversial relationship is not accidental. His new wife is secretly involved with a government agent and informs on her husband under the code name is "Little Rose." The co-operation with the agent turns into passion, but she realizes that she is just a tool in a political game.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Venice

Jan Jakub Kolski, Polish master of magical realism, enters the main competition at the Gdynia Polish Film Festival with Venice, a coming-of-age tale of a journey that never took place.

{mosimage}Venice is the story of an 11-year old Marek, whose dreams of a summer trip to Venice are brutally cut short by the outbreak of war in 1939. To escape the cruel realities of the world the boy hides in the basement of his aunt's villa. When one night the basement is flooded during a storm, the woman decides to distract the Marek's imagination by building a replica of Venice underneath her house. Kolski combines the brutal images of war with the dream-like qualities of a child's sensitivity and need for magic.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Erratum

{mosimage}In his feature film debut Erratum, Marek Lechki explores the issues of reliving ones past and changing the present.

Michał, age 34, is leading a prosperous, well-rounded life with his wife and son, a nice apartment, and a job in a big accounting office. The film starts when he is organizing his son's first communion. Michał would like to take a couple of days off, but his boss asks him to go to Michał's home town to collect a car imported from USA. He obediently fulfills the order, but a delay keeps him in the little town a couple of days longer. He meets people who were once close to him and stumbles upon familiar places, drawn to past feelings he had forgotten but tries to fight.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Mystification

{mosimage}Father and son Jerzy and Maciej Stuhr star in Mystification, a film about the mysterious "supposed" death of Polish artist Stanisław "Witkacy" Witkiewicz.

The movie explores the controversial case of a suicide committed by the Polish artist in 1939, which was frequently disputed due to several pieces of mystifying evidence. In 1988 an exhumation proved that the supposed body of the painter and writer was replaced by the remains of a 30-year-old woman, and several new works of art contributed to Witkacy, as well as letters dated after his death, kept appearing over the years.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Flying Pigs

After a promising debut, Anna Kazejak comes back with Flying Pigs, a moving story about honor and friendship tested in the brutal world of soccer fans.

Flying pigs is a story of four characters who center their lives around supporting the local soccer club. When the team ceases to exists, their world is turned upside down. Oskar, a former hooligan and a strong leader in the circle of the local soccer fans, is forced to change from sweats into a suit and get a job with the owner of another club. His new post tests his loyalties, forces him to develop another outlook on life and grow up. Meanwhile he finds himself in the middle of a love triangle with his brother and his girlfriend. Kazejak presents a rough and energetic vision of a community where brutality and raw emotions are mixing with cold business and calculation.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Made In Poland

{mosimage}Przemysław Wojcieszek creates a moving image of Poland in the adaptation of his highly successful play Made in Poland.

In the film, 16-year old Boguś, a former altar boy, acts out on his disappointment with God. He tattoos obscenities on his forehead, arms himself with a metal rod and sets out to start a revolution on his block and look for new spiritual guidance. The story was initially a film project, but Wojcieszek decided not wait for funding and first created a theater play in 2004, which turned out to be a spectacular success. The play was strongly praised by critics and is considered one of the most significant plays in Poland in the last decade.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Trick

Trick directed by Jan Hryniak is a brilliant and intelligent crime drama that has been nicknamed "the Polish Ocean's Eleven."

Trick is a prison break story about two intellectuals, a talented forger and an elderly "professor," who make an attempt to escape incarceration and use their fake money to ransom a deputy kidnapped in Afghanistan. Hryniak gathered an all-star Polish cast including Piotr Adamczyk, Andrzej Chyra, Robert Więckiewicz and Marian Dziędziel - all creators of highly praised male roles in Polish movies during the 2009/2010 season.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: The Christening

{mosimage}Marcin Wrona's second film, The Christening, earns a spot in the Gdynia Polish Film Festival's main competition.

The Christening (Chrzest) is the story of a criminal who betrays his accomplices and moves to Warsaw, where he starts a new business and a family. He invites his brother to the baptism of his child in order to persuade him to fill in as father and husband when revenge comes.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Wonderful Summer

{mosimage}Gdynia competition film Wonderful Summer is a dark romantic comedy set against the world of funeral services, where the real world mixes with the mystical beyond.

The plot follows the typical outline of a romantic comedy but the setting of funeral homes and cemetaries gives it a dark atmosphere. The lead character Kika has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the ghost of her dead mother. The mother visits her on a mission to make sure her daughter does not miss out on true love for the boy next door. The ghost will leave only when Kika makes the right choice.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Mother Teresa of Cats

{mosimage}In his new drama Mother Teresa of Cats, Paweł Sala presents a moving image of a contemporary brutal crime that shocked Poland.

Based on the true story of two brothers (ages 12 and 22) who murdered their mother, Mother Teresa Of Cats begins one year before the killing, and details the last days and the investigation leading to the arrest of the boys. The film recreates the atmosphere in the family home, with psychological portraits of the brothers and their mother, who appear to be a normal and modest family with nothing to indicate the impending tragedy.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Lullaby

{mosimage}One of the most popular Polish directors and a master of Polish comedy Juliusz Machulski tackles the horror film genre in his new film Lullaby.

A series of mysterious events take place in a small, picturesque town where the visitors and habitants suddenly start to disappear. The atmosphere thickens and tension grows as two policemen investigate. The trails lead nowhere, and innocent victims still disappear without a trace. The action is swift and full of sudden turns as the mystery is revealed bit by bit as a peculiar vampire family enters the picture. The plot is conveyed with a strong dose of humor, a trade mark of the director.

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Gdynia Polish Film Festival Competition spotlight: Fenomen

{mosimage}Fenomen, a directing/screenwriting debut from Tadeusz Paradowicz, is a crazy comedy about the search of the ultimate perfect man.

Fenomen evolves around the lives of three heroines: an eccentric film star, the spoiled daughter of a millionaire, and her loyal, big hearted but small-minded best friend. Despite their differences, they are all after the same thing: the perfect man. They come across a real gallery of choices including a mama's boy-celebrity, a handsome Italian archeologist, self-confident biker, a determined but unsuccessful actor, an extremely fertile screenwriter and even a couple of Polish rap artists, who also contribute to the music score to the film. Each one of them can turn out to be the perfect candidate.

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FNE at Krakow 50th Anniversary: Interview with Krzysztof Gierat

{mosimage}The 50th edition of the Krakow Film Festival started on the 31st of May and will last till the 6tth of June 2010. Festival Director Krzysztof Gierat talked to FNE about the influence that the event has on the industry and plans for the future.

1. How did the Krakow Film Festival (ww.kff.com.pl) change over the last 50 years? What were its most significant breakthrough moments?

Half a century is a long time; for example it covers to different political eras. We are covering it all in the jubilee album that will be published during the festival. I'd like to focus on the last 10 years, on my time. Firstly we changed the name to make it more approachable; secondly the time of the event was increased up to a week, several new sections emerged outside of the main competition and two years ago we added a new competition for the best feature documentary film with the Golden Horn Award. It resulted in a lot more movies, screenings and festival buildings. It was all established for our viewers, but we also engaged in taking care of film professionals from all over the world. For the last five years we have been hosting an Industry Zone, including the digital video technology market and project pitchng during the Dragon Forum.

2. How is the jubilee edition going to differ from the previous festivals? Are there any special events planned to celebrate this anniversary?

Krzysztof GieratThis jubille consists of summaries. It is important to pay attention to the Top Ten Krakow - two golden sets composed of the best Polish and international films presented during the Krakow festival. We are also recalling the works of filmmakers awarded with Dragon of the Dragons, a prize that we've been granting for the last 12 years to the greatest animators and documentary directors for their input in the world of cinema. This year's award will be given to the legend of New York avant-garde Jonas Mekas. Our special events also include screenings of the Israeli cinematography works. The Focus On Israel program includes a documentary film review and a conference with the representatives of the Israeli film industry. The accredited guests will also be invited to take part in jubilee concert held in the Juliusz Słowacki Theater, the place of the first film screening that ever took place in Poland.

3. What are the future plans of development for the festival?

We are focusing on strengthening two spheres, one for the viewer and the other for the international network of film professionals. A festival has to have an audience, its most important mission is to enable short and documentary film lovers to have contact with the most important trends of the international and Polish cinema. We are planning a novelty especially for them - a selection of feature films close to the documentary genre. But a modern festival has to be a place where the industry members can meet. Here the projects are being discussed, here the co-productions are established and also here a selection from other important international festivals is taking place. For the filmmakers Krakow very often was and should be a trampoline to a career on the international level.

4. What is the place of the Krakow Film Festival on the map of Polish film events?

This oldest Polish film festival and was the only international cinema event in our country for a couple of decades. Right now we have a couple of significant festivals of an international rank, but Krakow still remains the fortress of the short and documentary film. It is of great importance that this event is a place of confrontation between the best Polish works of the genre and carefully picked representatives of international cinema.

5. What are the main criteria of film selection for the festival, does the event have a certain "profile"?

Krakow have always been associated with artistic cinema. We are not interested in film sociological commentary or a fervent reportage written with a camera. The movies that we present here contain a reflection of the world in all its complexity : with wars, religious conflicts and other nightmares of the present times. But we always see it trough the prism of a human being. The biggest satisfaction comes from discovering new talents and observing the consecutive successes of "our" filmmakers like the recent awards won by Marcel and Paweł Łoziński for their films Poste restate and Chemo, which started their international careers in Krakow.

6. What is the meaning of the festival for the Polish filmmakers, is the event playing an important part in the promotion of Polish cinema?

First of all we are the only festival in Poland that enables its winners to be a candidate for the American and European Academy awards. Krakow was always attractive not only because of the prize pool (250,000 PLN). Here filmmakers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mike Leigh, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Werner Herzog were presenting their works. Here a career of Sergei Loztnits, awarded with a Gold and Silver Drason as well as the Golden Horn, fully took off. Finally it is here that the representatives of several international festivals come to watch the Polish productions of the year which qualified for the competitions, the Polish Cinema Panorama and are nvited to participate at the Market. The festival is just the beginning of the promotional supervision, but the Krakow Film Fundation (www.kff.com.pl/fundacja) is working on it during the whole year with projects such as Polish Shorts and Polish Docs supported by the Polish Film Institute.

7. What are the most interesting points of this year's program?

Obviously the competitions are always the most exciting, especially this year's edition of the modified documentary competition (10 full feature titles and 10 semi feature titles), the features and animations in this year's short film competition are very attractive and the highly rejuvenated Polish competition will surely surprise the viewers. It is worth it to take a chance and familiarize oneself with the works of Mekas. The Israeli films are not to be missed. For the young audience I would recommend the student étude and video clip nights. If the weather will let us the Szczepański Square will be reigned with musical cinema.

8. How is the festival in Krakow "educating" the Polish audience?

Krakow is the academic city. The whole festival is a very specific educating process. Our mission is evoking love for the X Muse and enabling those already in love to get the next levels of knowledge, also the professional level. That's why we are hosting camera directing workshops with Marcin Koszałka and for the members of the film industry we propose the Dragon Forum (http://www.dragonforum.pl/) and this year also a guest edition of the Documentary Campus (http://www.documentary-campus.pl/). So before the summer session exams start, we invite you all to Krakow!


Krakow celebrates 50th jubilee

The 50th Krakow Film Festival (http://www.kff.com.pl/), one of the oldest European documentary film events, celebrates its jubilee between May 31 and June 6.

In cooperation with well-known film festivals abroad, Krakow will show films which have already managed to win audience`s hearts in Amsterdam, Leipzig or Jihlava.

This year 6 projects are presented in the section: „Winners of the world`s film festivals". „Last Train Home" directed by Lixin Fan, the winner of the IDFA, is a story about hard-working Chinese parents trying to earn money for their children`s education. Mostly, the solution is working far away from home and almost whole year separation. „Disco and Atomic War", the winner of the Warsaw Film Festival, directed by Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Aarma, touches the issue of Finnish-Estonian television war in the Soviet Union times. Supported by opposing powers, both countries hit each other with propaganda-like contents. „Six Weeks", a documentary by Marcin Janos Krawczyk, appreciated in Amsterdam, is a story about mothers giving their children away for adoption. Women have 6 weeks to change their decision. „The House" by a Columbian filmmaker Tayo Cortes, the winner of the Leipzig festival, is based on dramatic narration and tells a story of a Sisyphean family of small sellers, living only to survive the next day. In his short and chamber film „Ivan and Loriana", Stefano Cattini observes a couple of deaf children who communicate with each other without a smallest difficulty. The project was mentioned by jury of the Pontenure Film Festival. In Tampere jury appreciated a Thai project entitled „Four Boys, White Whiskey and Grilled Mouse".

Krakow Film Festival is not only „importing" movies. During this year`s edition a large number of international representatives of film industry will come to Krakow in order to discover new talents and find films which they could show later on in their countries. „Panorama of the Polish Film" is a section created especially for international guests. This year 35 projects will be shown, including the most recent and most interesting documentaries and shorts that have been made in Poland lately, also those made as part of programmes for young filmmakers. This section is most interesting for international film festivals` programme selectors and television makers, and is a very strong „exporting" platform for Polish cinema.

In this year`s „Panorama of the Polish Film" there are many documentaries devoted to artists, musicians and filmmakers, i.e. a life story of Jerzy Kawalerowicz entitled „Żyłem 17 razy" directed by Tadeusz Bystram and Stanisław Zawiśliński or „Komeda - muzyczne ścieżki życia" by Claudia Buthenhoff-Duffy, presenting life of a music composer Krzysztof Komeda. „Doktor Jimmy" by Janusz Barycki and Tomasz Szwan is a biography of a journalist Tomasz Beksiński. Tomasz Stroynowski, a famous musician who invited celebrities and organized school radio programmes for children living in the countryside has become the main character of a documentary „Tournée" by Andrzej Mańkowski. Tadeusz Król made a portrait of Antoni Antoine Cierplikowski, an ingenious hairdresser living at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, entitled „Ręka fryzjera". „Dokumentaliści" by Jędrzej Lipski and Piotr Melecha is devoted to Polish documentary filmmakers. It is acted by Ewa Borzęcka, Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz, Maciej Drygas, Andrzej Fidyk, Kazimierz Karabasz, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, Marcel and Paweł Łoziński. This film was made especially for the Krakow Film Festival jubilee edition. Polish film panorama will also present projects about characters whose activities were a matter of controversy, like "Dzieci wolności" by Miłosz Kozioła, presenting Paweł Zyzak, the author of a controversial biography of Lech Wałęsa.

Among features presented in this section, a couple of projects are worth mentioning. Jan Wagner, student of the Lodz Film School, is the director of "Syn", which is said to resemble Roman Polanski`s „Knife in the Water". „Dekalog 89+", vol. 5 describes a story of a TV presenter who caused a fatal car accident and fights with the image created by mass media. The project is entitled „Sprawa Janusza W.". Zbigniew Hołdys, Krzysztof Skiba, Jerzy Urban and Krzysztof Zanussi are narrating the story of a misterious man who contributed to tearing down the Iron Curtain in the movie „Człowiek z Winylu" by Bartosz Wyrwas. Edyta Wróblewska is a director of "Ala z Elementarza", a portrait of the famous Ala from the primer by Marian Falski. The project is a biography of totally unknown Alina Margolis-Edelman, a pediatrician and spouse of Marek Edelman.



FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS


SIX WEEKS, dir. Marcin Janos Krawczyk, Poland 2009, 18'

Six weeks - that much time is left for mothers to change their decision about giving a child to adoption. Meanwhile, newly born babies are taken to day care centres and wait for the course of events.


LAST TRAIN HOME, dir. Lixin Fan, Canada / China, 2009, 85'

More than 130 mln Chinese people work far away from home. They come back once a year - to celebrate the Chinese New Year`s Day. Qin`s parents are among those who left their children to earn for their better future and education. They want their children to graduate and not to work in a factory. However, Qin does not want to spend all her life in the countryside, she wants to leave her home and start working. Does one of her parents` visit is able to change her attitude and strenghten family ties?


FOUR BOYS, WHITE WHISKEY AND GRILLED MOUSE, dir. Wichanon Somumjarn, Thailand 2009, 10'

Late afternoon after the harvest...In one of the rice fields four teenagers transform a shed into a pub. There is whisky, grilled mouse and live music...


DISCO AND ATOMIC WAR dir. Jaak Kilmi, Kiur Aarma, Estonia / Finland 2009, 80'

Socialist Estonia enters television era. TV shows happy workers and children singing communist songs. The Soviet propaganda reaches Finland and Finland gives as good as it gets. Supported by the West, Finland launches a competitive TV channel reaching directly Estonian capital - Tallinn. Estonian minds are now occupied by Dallas soap opera and disco dance. Govermental bans and removing antennas from the roofs seem to be useless. When broadcast time comes, creativity of Estonian people goes beyond any borders.


IVAN AND LORIANA, dir. Stefano Cattini, Italy 2008, 10'

Adults who became deaf still remember sounds and melody of words. For children who were born deaf, it is really difficult to learn to speak. Kindergarden pupils Ivan and Loriana, led by nuns, exercise their tongues very carefully but they succeed most in mutual communication. A flesh of joy in their eyes during games and playing speaks for itself.

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This session completes current edition of ScripTeast, the innovatory training program designed for experienced scriptwriters from Eastern Europe.