ZLIN: The Warsaw Kids Film Festival is building the children’s film industry in Poland step by step, through training, distribution and educational activities. The newest undertaking is the Warsaw Kids Film Forum, an international coproduction forum, which is accepting applications through the end of May for its upcoming edition taking place 25 – 27 September 2019.
FNE spoke with Maciej Jakubczyk, head of the Warsaw Kids Film Forum and The Kids Film Festival, at the Zlin IFF for Children and Youth, running through 1 June, which he was attending to finalise future plans for collaboration between Warsaw and Zlin. Warsaw Kids Pro, a companion screenwriting workshop, and Zlin IFF announced that the 2019/2020 edition is expanding its scope to include a one-week workshop taking place during the 2020 festival in Zlin.
“Kids Film. Pro will have its first international call for applications from writers and producers,” Jakubczyk told FNE. The call will be opened in July, with the first workshop taking place in December 2019 in Poland. Zlin IFF's artistic director Marketa Pasmova told FNE she expects that four Czech projects will be selected for the Zlin workshop.
Jakubczyk explained that the two forums are logically connected, and both are conducted under the umbrella of the growing Polish film entity New Horizons Association. The model sees scriptwriters and producers participating first in the Warsaw Kids Pro workshop, then applying to participate in the Warsaw Kids Film Forum to pitch their films. “One of the reasons we invented the Forum is to get the industry to gather for coproduction opportunities and education,” he said. “We have 200 attendees, half of them Polish and half international. The projects come from Central and Eastern Europe and are shown to Western buyers, mainly TV stations, sales agents and distributors.” New Horizons might then acquire distribution rights to the films and screen them at a network of 70 cinemas across Poland.
The entire structure was designed to fill a gap in the Polish filmmaking industry.
“We are really lacking in films for pre-schoolers in Europe,” Jakubczyk said. He noted that while attending the Zlin works-in-progress programme, he approached Slovenian producer Ida Weiss to discuss having her project The Beanie at the Forum, with the possibility of acquiring rights to the film.
The problem is especially disturbing in a country as large as Poland. “Poland had no family film released in 2018,” he said. “Lots of films are in development now, and there are two family films being released in 2019.” He added that the situation with television stations is not helping to mend the problem. “The Polish kids channel is focusing on series instead of kids films. There are no regulations committing the Polish TV to invest in or coproduce kids films. It’s a normal part of the development of the film industry, and it’s what I say when I’m trying to promote kids film funding and production.”