FNE spoke with Agneiszka Odorowicz, General Director of the Polish Film Institute, about the current state of the Polish film industry.
FNE: What was the most important development in the Polish film industry over the past year?
Agneiszka Odorowicz: Since the establishment of the Polish Film Institute in autumn of 2005 the Polish film industry has been doing better year by year. The number of films supported by PISF is increasing annually, including the number of coproductions. Cinema attendance is growing and the overall outlook and perspective for the Polish film industry is highly optimistic. The last Festival of Polish Films in Gdynia revealed that new generation of young directors had found their way into the hearts of the press, the jury and the audience. The winner of 11 awards, "Revers", already has almost 150.000 admissions.
FNE: How important are European coproductions for the development of the Polish film industry and what opportunities do you see for cooperation with neighbouring countries in film production, education and distribution.
AO: The average level of international coproductions is 30% per year. Among them are such significant films as "33 scenes from life" by Małgorzata Szumowska and "4 nights with Anna" by Jerzy Skolimowski and "Janosik" by Agnieszka Holland. Those films were coproduced with well established French, German and east European companies which has been crucial to the international distribution and success of the films at festivals. A better presence and visibility of Polish films in Europe is one of the benefits of international coproductions. However, we think that there is still a big potential in international coproductions in Poland since the best films are not necessarily the ones internationally co-roduced. As the last festival in Gdynia has shown, the most successful films of young directors, the new talents of the Polish cinematography, are mostly Polish productions. It is the case of "Reverse" by Borys Lankosz, "Zero" by Paweł Borowski, "Dark House" by Wojtek Smarzowski and "Las" by Piotr Dumała.
It is true that Polish coproductions are mostly and naturally made with the neighboring countries. The main partner is Germany. Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Ukraine and even Belarus are also present. As to other countries, France, Sweden, Denmark and the USA should be mentioned.
The Polish Film Institute enhances the participation of Polish companies as a minority partner. European films are not only shot in Poland ("Whirlwind", "Robert Mitchum is Dead", "Woman that Dreamed of a Man"). Post-production studios on the highest technical and artistic level attract big productions in fiction and animation. Special effects for "Anichrist" were made in Warsaw by the Studio Platige Image. Alvernia - one of the biggest and best equipped studios in Europe - has newly opened its doors to the biggest European and US productions.
FNE: What is the role of film in the Polish cultural identity?
AO: Film has always been important for Poles. Until 1989 Polish directors had researched new ways of storytelling to hide important massages in the times of censorship. Wajda, Kieslowski, Zanussi became masters and their characters became moral figures for many people in Poland. After 1989 filmmakers started to look for a new film language to communicate with the audience. Without boundaries they could talk about everything. But it took some time to reveal their own film language. The authors such as: Krzysztof Krauze, Jan Jakub Kolski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Jacek Borcuch, Sławomir Fabicki have found their way to the audience with their very special narrative speech.
FNE: How does the recognition of Polish film internationally promote not only the Polish film but also Poland as a country?
AO: This is something we cannot measure in numbers but this kind of promotion is irreplaceable. Films like "General Nil" by Ryszard Bugajski, "Spring 1941" by Uri Barbash, "Katyń" by Andrzej Wajda, "Popiełuszko" by Rafał Wieczyński screened abroad spread the overall knowledge about Polish history. On the other hand films like "Tricks" by Andrzej Jakimowski, "Zero" by Paweł Borowski based in contemporary Poland show that Poles are very much like Germans, French, Czech, British...
FNE: Looking back over the past five years what are the major achievements and what do you consider still needs to be done?
AO: Still, after nearly 5 years since establishing the Polish Film Institute I find this Institution the major achievement. Bringing it to life was a difficult task but managing is another challenge. The Polish Film Institute managed to build good working liaisons with its beneficiaries. It takes time, it does not happen automatically, it demands good will for co-operation from both parts. After these successful years PISF wants to be still more efficient. Right now, beginning from the December the 1st , the operational programs are being changed. The biggest changes will be made within the production programs but each program has been changed based upon last years experiences. Cinematography is a living organism of directors, producers, actors, writers and many others. PISF is willing to see their needs and answer them. Our goal is to make more and better films well received both in Poland and abroad, isn't what we're all looking for?