25th Warsaw Film Festival – a festival of fulfilled dreams

    The 25th Warsaw Film Festival ended on Sunday, 18 October.

    The film for the WFF's closing, screened in the 777-seat room 1 of Multikino Złote Tarasy, was the Polish production Zero directed by Paweł Borowski. The director came to the screening straight from the Pusan film festival where his film had taken part in the newly established Flash Forward competition.

    "This year's festival was the fulfilment of my dreams", says Stefan Laudyn, the WFF's director. "We joined the premier league of the world's film festivals. Our choice of films, which included international, European, and Polish premieres, won the appreciation of audiences, judges, professionals, and journalists. Our guests found Warsaw enchanting and Polish hospitality wonderful. The team, which included quite a few first-timers this year, did an excellent job. We face new challenges as of next year - I trust we will cope with them, thanks to support from the Warsaw city government, the Ministry of Culture, the Polish Film Institute, and our partners and sponsors, led by RWE".


    The awards in the five competitive sections of the 25th Warsaw Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize were presented to the winners on Saturday evening, 17 October.

    The Warsaw Grand Prix, the main prize in the International Competition, funded by the city of Warsaw, went to LOURDES directed by Jessica Hausner (Austria / France / Germany). The prize was presented by Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

    The Special Jury Prize went to LA PASIÓN DE GABRIEL / THE PASSION OF GABRIEL directed by Luis Alberto Restrepo (Colombia). The prize was funded by RWE.

    The winners of the 1-2 Competition were SHEVA DAKOT BE'GAN EDEN / SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN directed by Omri Givon (Israel) and EASTERN PLAYS directed by Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria). The prizes were funded by Alior Bank.

    The Free Spirit Awards went to PURGATORIO / PURGATORY directed by Roberto Rochin Naya (Mexico) and MAL DÍA PARA PESCAR / BAD DAY TO GO FISHING directed by Alvaro Brechner (Uruguay). The prizes were funded by Empik.

    The award for the best full-length documentary

    went to DISCO AND ATOMIC WAR directed by Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Aarma (Estonia). The prize was funded by BenQ.

    In the Shorts Competition the winner was APUNTES SOBRE EL OTRO / NOTES ON THE OTHER directed by Sergio Oksman (Spain). The prize was funded by the Polish Filmmakers' Association.

    The FIPRESCI Prize (from the International Federation of Film Critics, http://www.fipresci.org/) for the best Eastern European debut went to REWERS / REVERSE directed by Borys Lankosz (Poland).


    On 19 October, after adding up the votes of the festival audience, we could announce the results of the 25th WFF Audience Poll. Two films received exactly the same mark for the first time ever - 4.77. In the feature film category, the joint winners were:

    Dom zły / The Dark House

    , dir. Wojciech Smarzowski (Poland)
    and Welcome, dir. Philippe Lioret (France).

    In the documentary category, the winner was Hashmatsa / Defamation, dir. Yoav Shamir (Israel / Denmark / Austria / USA).

    In the shorts category, the winner was The Pig, dir. Dorte W. Hogh (Denmark).


    The WFF comprised 421 screenings. The programme included 143 full-length films and 117 shorts from 57 countries. Apart from four Polish features, all the films were absolute Polish premieres.

    We issued 1,161 accreditations. The festival guests came from 41 different countries. They included 192 filmmakers linked to the projects presented at the festival (directors, producers, actors, scriptwriters, cameramen) and jury members. It is a tradition of the WFF that meetings with filmmakers are held after screenings. The 25th WFF had as many as 112 such meetings, involving 128 makers of 68 films. WFF audiences had the opportunity to meet filmmakers such as Alex van Warmerdam, Annet Malherbe, Michael Imperioli, Yves Hinant, Tarik Saleh, Urszula Antoniak, Agnieszka Grochowska, Robert Gliński, Janusz Mrozowski, Wojciech Smarzowski, Paweł Borowski.

    The festival was held in the heart of Warsaw, with screenings at Multikino Złote Tarasy, Kinoteka, and Kultura. Screenings brought in an audience of more than 108,000 people, a new attendance record.


    As of this year, the WFF is in one group with the world's twelve leading festivals - Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Mar del Plata, Moscow, Montreal, Shanghai, and Cairo. FIAPF (http://www.fiapf.org/), the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, has added the Warsaw Film Festival to the elite category of "competitive feature film festivals", previously known as the "A" category.


    For years now, the WFF has been expanding its professional aspect. This year the festival was accompanied by the following industry events:

    - CentEast Market Warsaw - the fifth edition of the film market specializing in Eastern European films; 245 professionals from 21 countries were accredited: producers, distributors, film sales agents, festival programmers (including Cannes, Berlin, Karlovy Vary, New York, Sofia, Prague, Göteborg, Budapest), representatives of film institutions;

    - CentEast Warsaw-Moscow - presentations of seventeen selected works-in-progress from Eastern Europe, on 16 October in Warsaw and on 18 October in Moscow at the 2morrow Film Festival;

    - Warsaw Screenings - screenings of the latest Polish projects, for professionals specially invited to Warsaw;

    - FIPRESCI Warsaw Project / Talent Press - a training programme for young film journalists, organized in association with FIPRESCI;

    - The Art of Editing - open workshops taught by Poland's leading film editors.


    The Warsaw Film Festival was held under the honorary patronage of the Mayor of Warsaw and the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

    RWE is the WFF's strategic partner. The WFF sponsors are Empik, TCM, Alior Bank, the Zygmunt Zaleski Foundation, and BenQ. The WFF's partners are Multikino, Toyota, Twins, the Polish Filmmakers' Association, and Złote Tarasy.

    The WFF's media partners are Gazeta Wyborcza, Onet, Trójka, VIVA, and Ströer.

    The WFF is subsidized by the Warsaw City Office, the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Polish Film Institute, and the European Union's MEDIA Programme.

    All catering during the WFF was sponsored by Wyborowa.


    The next, 26th Warsaw Film Festival will be held just a year from now, on 8-17 October 2010.