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Interview with Magdalena Sroka, General Director of the Polish Film Institute

2016-03-14

FNE: What was the most important development in your national cinema in 2015?

Magdalena Sroka: On the global scene, 2015 was one of the most successful years in the history of Polish cinema. As a result of several top-tier awards for Polish filmmakers, our films gained international visibility. Ida (Opus Film, Canal Plus Cyfrowy, Phoenix Film Ivestment) alone conquered the world; the film was sold in over 50 territories and was successful in the Unites States, winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and being nominated for Best Cinematography.

Two Polish documentaries also received Oscar nods. Małgorzata Szumowska won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale for Body (Nowhere Sp. z o.o.). Polish films were featured in the line up of key international film festivals. These are the facts you probably all know.

We are very proud of this success. But as far as the development aspect is concerned, I would focus on our 2015 debut features, many of which made it to the world's biggest festivals: The Performer by Maciej Sobieszczański and Łukasz Ronduda was awarded at Berlinale; The Here After by Magnus von Horn and Raging Rose by Julia Kowalski premiered in Cannes; four debut features were shown in Karlovy Vary's competitive sections, while Baby Bump by Kuba Czekaj (Balapolis) and Klezmer by Piotr Chrzan (Human Power) were presented at the Venice Film Festival.

The beginning of 2016 brought more success for our first-time filmmakers as Agnieszka Smoczyńska and Michał Marczak were both awarded at Sundance. I consider this a major accomplishment. We managed to develop a great generation of young Polish filmmakers, an expressive generation with a unique voice.

FNE: What is the major step to be taken in your national cinema in 2016?

Magdalena Sroka: The Polish Film Institute recognized the need of industry changes by introducing adjustments to its Operational Programmes. We have assigned financial resources dedicated exclusively to the production of films for family audiences. We will soon announce a script competition for films for young audiences. This area of our film industry has enormous potential for development. We hope to encourage Polish filmmakers to actively engage in making quality films for young audiences.

We have also created a separate commission for applications from producers seeking support for minority coproductions. It's important for these projects not to be assessed in the same pool with majority coproductions.

And most recently, funding decisions in the first application round of the Polish-German Film Fund. I hope that this new and closer form of cooperation between our countries will result in great coproductions.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is about to announce a competition dedicated to historical cinema. This means that a new source of film financing will be available to Polish filmmakers soon.

FNE: Why is Scripteast important for your country and how do you evaluate its activity so far?

Magdalena Sroka: Every type of professional support during the writing process is priceless. With its circle of experienced professional advisors, ScripTeast creates an excellent opportunity to make scripts written by Eastern and Central European screenwriters more competitive on the international market. It is a chance for these writers to become visible and to develop their international career. Every edition of ScripTeast has had Polish screenwriters among its participants, and I believe that the workshop has been very helpful in developing their skill set.

The quality of Polish screenplays has often been a question in the past. As we see after this year’s Berlinale, where the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay went to the Polish writer-director Tomasz Wasilewski, this is no longer the case.

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