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Polish doc gains fame abroad (update)

2007-12-16

{mosimage}A film about a true Polish adventure story, In Search of a Legend, won the best film award Monday at the SportFilmFestival in Palermo, Sicily. The film, about six young Poles who travel to the Arctic in a tiny yacht, also won the award for best direction for Konstanty Kulik.

The film, produced by Serrano Set Film & TV Production (www.serranoset.pl) for a mere 219,000 zloties (€57,600), follows a three-month journey of the world's youngest yacht crew sailing the first Polish vessel along the world's most dangerous waterway, the Northwest Passage. Kulik not only directed the film but served as cinematographer and sound man - as well as a member of the sailing crew because there was no room on the 15-meter yacht, named Stary, for more than one filmmaker.

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Producer Anna Zarudzka of Serrano Set, a company purpose-built for the expedition, said the film had its domestic premiere in Pionier Cinema in Szczecin on Aug. 5, during the Tall Ships Races which attracted 1 million people. It is now being screened outside Poland with screenings in Canada, several cities in China, Serbia and Italy. Serrano Set is cooperating with sales agents in the US for international channels, as well as the Public Broadcasting Service and China's CCTV.

"From beginning to end, we wanted to make a real documentary with international quality," Zarudzka, who has worked as a production manager for TVP and as an independent producer, told FNE in an email exchange. "Of course we had nothing-no money, no equipment-but we had a deep, strong faith and a certainty that we could do almost anything."

The filmmakers went for help to Sony Poland, which came aboard as a sponsor and provided four cameras: two Sony FX1s and two Sony HC1s.

"We decided to use HDV because of the quality and our need for small cameras," Zarudzka said. "The quality is very good-not like true HD, but you still have many possibilities during post-production and you can convert it and screen HDV format on HD and HD-ready projectors."

Despite the extreme conditions-bitter temperatures, salt water, humidity, sand, and the ever-present risk the yacht could capsize and the equipment would sink-"Every camera worked well the whole trip," Zarudzka added. "We didn't have any problems."

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Aside from the difficulties of the voyage itself, the film explores the challenges facing the natives of the frozen Arctic, mostly Innuits, who dress in animal skins and welcomed the Poles with the traditional gift of raw meat-and some spontaneously performed rock songs.

The Innuits are facing a clash of cultures. While their children hunt seals and occasionally whales by day, they entertain themselves at night with Play Station or by sending text messages.

Kulik collected 100 hours of footage, which was edited down in post-production to a 45-minute film. Co-producers are Grupa Outdoor, comprising some of the crew members, which organized and managed the expedition, and Laboratorium Obrazu, comprising Kulik and his wife, which organised the equipment.

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