FNE Interview with Agnieszka Holland

By Katarzyna Grynienko

In an exclusive interview, Agnieszka Holland spoke with FNE about the significance of Poland's "Oscars" the Polish Eagles, new trends in Polish cinema, and her criteria of voting for the best films.

This year the Polish Film Awards were recognized as one of the most prominent film prizes by the Los Angeles Times Magazine. What is the significance of receiving the Polish Eagle on the local and international film markets?

AH: The prizes such as the Eagles (Oscars, Ceasars, Lions, the BAFTA Awards, The European Film Academy Awards etc.) have a special value for the awarded filmmakers: they are an expression the opinions of a representative part of the filmmakers environment (opinions that are independent and not influenced by any collective deliberations or games). Looking at it from this point of view, they seem to be more competent then the opinions of any jury. They express collective wisdom and they are a base to a better understanding of new trends and the expectations of the film world. When it comes to their advertising or promotional meaning - these prizes first have to enter the public awareness and interest a broader audience for them to cause a real interest in the awarded movies. It worked for countries such as USA and France, where the audiences are attached to local production cinema and the award tradition is long and rich. In other cases, even the European Film Award still has difficulties to break trough into mainstream market.

How was the voting process influenced by the fact, that 2009 was another record year for the number of Polish productions?

AH: Polish cinema is growing - in quality, numbers and audience attendance. The stronger the interest in local cinema, the bigger is the significance of Eagles.

Do you recognize any new trends in Polish cinema? Is there something that connects the new productions?

AH: Surely a new generation of filmmakers has entered our cinema. Talented, devoid of complexes, with a knowledge of the world cinema but at the same time immersed in their own tradition, treating film as a personal statement.
Janosik.A True Story is one of the most frequently nominated films this year. What does it mean to you to be recognized by the members of the Polish Film Academy in this way?

AH:"Janosik" wasn't nominated in the most important categories, but it is nice that it was noticed. This year by far the biggest interest was caused by three movies made by relatively young filmmakers: Dark House by Wojtek Smarzowski, Reverse by Borys Lankosz and Snow White and Russian Red by Xawery Żuławski. They are all significant, new voices in Polish cinema.

A couple of nominated movies are international co-productions, including Janosik... as one of the biggest Cent-East European project of the past year. Do you think that future of Polish cinema lies international co-operation?

AH: Co-productions are a chance for all European countries. It is hard to gather a decent budget on one market only. It is important for them to be true co-productions, coming from the joint interest in one topic, legible and authentic. Janosik... surely fulfilled all of this criteria. Personally I am glad, that my colleagues, both directors and producers, are opening themselves to the world and establishing valuable contacts. Some of the are doing very well on the European market already.

What are your criteria in judging the nominated productions?

AH: I am a member of three Film Academies: the American (Oscars), European ( the European Film Awards) and Polish (Eagles). I always try to vote according to my taste and conscience, to judge the quality of the film without national or personal bonds influencing me. I try to be as subjective and at the same time objective as I can be, while judging particular filmmakers. This is the only way of voting that makes sense to me. Every award issued by professional colleagues is, as I said earlier, a great honor and it surely motivates the winner, as well as brings back the attention of the audience to the film itself.