FNE at the Film and Art Festival Two Riversides: Interview with Grażyna Torbicka

Written by Katarzyna Grynienko

Grażyna Torbicka, the Artistic Director of the festival and a renowned Polish film journalist talked to FNE about her search for new form in cinema and plans for the future of Two Riversides.

Does the Two Riverside festival create a platform for the film professionals?

We are especially interested in the debuting filmmakers and their situation all over the world. This year we invited directors who are taking their first steps as creators of author cinema such as Cory McAbee (USA), Tsubota Yoshifumi (Japan), Tomasz Rudzik (Germany), Rigoberto Perezcano (Mexico), Janaína Marques Ribeiro (Brasil/Cuba). We invited them for a discussion panel with young Polish filmmakers who recently had their debut in the Munk Studio 30 Minutes Program ( www.studiomunka.pl) including Marcin Jażyński, Zbigniew Czapla, Arek Biedrzycki, Kuba Czekaj and Tomasz Jurkiewicz. I highly value this program as it gives the filmmakers professional care and advice as well enables them to tell their own full story and learn how to manage a real project, including the budget and a professional film set. We want to encourage the Polish and international directors to exchange opinions about their experiences in realizing an author project in their countries. We want to make these markets more approachable and discover what can be the obstacles and opportunities, especially when it comes to gathering funds for the film.

What does a screening at Two Riversides mean for the filmmakers?

When it comes to the features, our festival is often the only place in Poland that international filmmakers can present the more challenging, author cinema. As our main prize is assigned by the audience vote and not a professional jury we are not blocking many interesting foreign films from other festivals and that makes our selection a lot richer. My main goal is to present the Polish audience with great films that they probably could not see any place else in the country.As for the short features, we do have a regular contest with the first prize of 1 000 EUR and much needed recognition for a debuting filmmaker. We decided to focus the competition around the short format in order to enable young filmmakers to take their first steps in film making, plus our selection is not blocking the feature debuts from being entered elsewhere. The competition is judged by a special jury of 20 people who had entered their applications via Internet and where chosen by us. It is a solution that I've observed during my work with the Taormina film festival (www.taorminafilmfest.it) called "giuria publica". The debut short films are judged in two categories, the student and amateur films and are entered by the filmmakers themselves.

How does the Two Riversides festival co-operate with the big international film events?

I have been visiting these events for a long time while working on my television program "I Love Cinema" (Kocham kino), so I had this co-operation in mind since the moment started working on this festival. Over the last four years we managed to stand out and we and more present during the big events and recognized especially by the producers and distributors that are looking for a place to screen a more challenging, artistic cinema. This edition is especially good as we have 18 international premieres in our program, which is especially gratifying since we try to look for new interesting projects outside the most obvious festivals and turn to other places such as Argentina where we found Lucy Walker's great documentary Wastelad. In the future I plan to co-operate with a festival in Locarno(www.pardo.ch), which has a profile similar to our event, and create a broadcast bridge for the audiences in both cities to watch.

And what are the criteria of selection for the festival program, which is full of internationally recognized titles?

This year we are presenting over 240 films, but this is still a small enough number for us to have a very author and precise selection. We have to be very careful as the number of places for screenings is limited, so in order to present a certain intersection of the best cinema for each year we are forced to present each title only once. The selection is made by three people: myself, Anna Stadnik and Joanna Tereszczuk. We travel the world and choose the most interesting titles, which we then thoroughly discuss and often disagree, but if a film stands this evaluation we try to enter it in the program and provoke our viewers to consider it further. I can personally vouch for each film as the one that I find interesting to watch. I find that almost every content has been somehow presented in cinema, so I am especially fascinated by what form the younger filmmakers create with the tools given to then on the film set.

Does it mean that Two Riversides is a festival of avant-garde, off cinema?

I think yes. The motto for this edition is "a different world" and this is exactly what we want to present to our audience, a different point of view. We want to take them some place else, like in the movie To The Sea (Almar) by Pedro González-Rubio, a moving story of a young boy who is visiting his grandfater and observes his simple life on the mexican lagoon. The director takes us not only to a different geographical location, whit the beautiful pictures of the exotic nature, but to a different image of an emotional world and a sensitivity that is harder and harder to find in cinema.

Two Riversides is a festival of film and art, how are they combined in this year's program?

We have a lot of interesting projects that are all somehow evolving around film art but include theater and music. We present the Double Bass, a play starring Jerzy Sthur, one of the most renowned Polish actors and filmmakers, the hero of one of our retrospectives. The actor has been preforming this text for 25 years, so it is very interesting to observe how it changed and grew with him over this time. An interesting view on the begging of cinema can be observed during one of our special exhibitions of photography by Jerzy Benedykt Dorys, who came to Kazimierz Dolny in the 30's with one of the first Leica cameras and took the first reportage pictures in movement. There are of course a lot of concert events, including the perfomance of music composed by Józef Skrzek. The artist have created score for films by Jerzy Skolimowski, Piotr Szulkin and Lech Majewski, an internationall recognized visual artist, filmmaker, painter and writer to whose interdyscyplinary art we have dedicated a separate retrospective.

Official festival website : www.dwabrzegi.pl