Poland pins Oscar hopes on Rabbit

By Katarzyna Grynienko
Rabbit à la Berlin, a Polish coproduction directed by Bartek Konopka will compete for the Best Short Documentary Award at the 82nd Academy Awards edition.

The documentary is a moving and funny story of 28,000 of wild rabbits that occupied the"death-zone" within the Berlin Wall during 1969-1981. The film is a 51-minute, black and white production developed during the Ex Oriente film workshop in 2005.

The title premiered in Poland on December 4, 2009, after already winning several international awards, notably in Chicago and Jihlava. The movie's premiere took place 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and was very well received by critics as a clever and funny yet insightful picture about a grave historical issue. "It is a story about rabbits, who are cowardly and don't leave their group. Suddenly they find themselves between two walls. They are imprisoned, but safe. It's enough for them to live and they are even happy about it. They are living a paradise life. When someone takes down the wall, they do not know what to do," Konopka said when explaining how his rabbits mirror habitants in post-communist countries.

Konopka (b. 1972) is a film and TV directing graduate of the University of Silesia who also studied journalism, which strongly influenced his interest in social documentary making. His film Goat Walker (2003), about a program for poor Polish families in Wrocław who received goats as a form of economic support, won the GrandPix during IFF Hot Docs in Toronto, the Magic Hour Prize during the Planete Doc Review in Warsaw, and audience prizes during DokumentART in Neubrandenburg, MFFK in Cracow, TOFFI Festival in Toruń, and ERA New Horizons IFF in Cieszyn. The script for the "Goat Walker" was also awarded by the Planete TV at Berlinale 2004 and was broadcast to audiences worldwide.

Rabbit à la Berlin is an international project financed by a Polish public broadcaster Telewizji Polska (www.tvp.pl) and German broadcasters MDR, RBB, and ARTE. The project is co-financed by Finnish television YLE, Belgian TV Lichtpunt and Dutch TV VPRO. The movie was produced by Anna Wydra's Polish company MS Films (www.msfilms.pl) and German Filmproduktion. The movie was produced with the support of the European MEDIA Proramme, The Master School of Andrzej Wajda and the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl).

Rabbit à la Berlin/ Mauerhase | 2009 | 40'& 51' | creative documentary
Germany, Poland 2009
Director: Bartek Konopka
Producer: Anna Wydra
Script: Bartek Konopka, Piotr Rosołowski
Cinematography: Piotr Rosołowski
Editor: Mateusz Romaszkan
SFX: Grzegorz Korczaky
Sound: Franciszek Kozłowski
Music: Maciej Cieślak