FNE Visegrad 2011 special: Polish Coproductions

By Katarzyna Grynienko

    WARSAW:Polish engagement in the international film industry becomes more prominent each year, with the results visible not only by the increase in Polish presence at major film events but also more Polish coproductions in world wide distribution.

     Despite the lack of special legislation introducing tax rebates for foreign filmmakers, Poland maintains a good average of more then a dozen internationally coproduced titles. The main source of public funding for these projects are the grants offered by the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl), which can be obtained by a Polish producer involved in the projects.

    In accordance with The European Coproduction Convention requirements, Poland invests a minimum of 20% of the funding for a film produced by two countries and a minimum of 10% for a triple coproduction to qualify under the terms of the convention. To become a minority coproducer with the aid of public funding the Polish partner must have a 50% input, provided that 80% of the grant is spent in Poland. The producers of international titles can apply for the same amount of incentives or loans as the local productions.

    Poland is most often a partner in 2 or 3 country coproductions, but recently Polish filmmakers have become interested in taking part in more diverse production teams. The companies leading in the number of projects made with foreign partners are Ozumi Films (www.ozumifilms.com), MS Films (www.msfilms.pl),Opus Film (www.opusfilm.com), SPI International and Apple Film (www.applefilm.pl. In the last year several international broadcasters who offer channels to the Polish audience had also became more engaged in coproducing titles with Polish filmmakers, with Canal+ announcing a special plan to engage in more projects like that in 2011 and 2012.

    One of the biggest projects that Poland was involved in this year is the Italian-Polish-Turkish co-production September 11, 1638, a historical drama about the Battle of Vienna that took place on 11 and 12 September 1683. The film is produced by Martinelli Film Company in coproduction with the Polish company Agresywna Banda (www.agresywnabanda.com) and Tandem Film (www.tandemfilm.com) from Romania. The budget of the production is 50 million PLN (EUR 12.7 million), with 2 million PLN in financing from the Polish Film Institute. The large-scale production involved 100 actors, 10,000 extras and 3,000 horses.

    In 2011 Polish filmmakers also continued the long co-operation with the Czech film industry. Piotr Mularuk directed a Polish/Czech coproduction Yuma, a drama about the harsh reality of life after the fall of communism in the early 1990's. The film received EUR 1.5 milion funding from PISF and the Czech film fund. The majority producer is Polish Yeti Films (www.yetifilms.com) and the minority Czech c-producer is Evolution Films (www.evolutionfilms.cz) in coproduction with Czech companies Avion (www.avion.net) and Bystrouska (www.bystrouska.cz).

    In March of 2011 the Czech director David Ondricek started shooting In The Shadow, a Czech-Polish-Slovak co-production. The film is a thriller set in Prague in the 1950's, produced by Ondricek's Czech company Lucky Man Films (www.luckymanfilms.com), Poland's Centrala (www.centralafilm.pl) and Slovakia's Trigon Production (www.trigon-production.sk). The budget of the production is over 11 million PLN. (EUR 2.7 million). The film received 1 million PLN funding from the Polish Film Institute.

    In May of 2011 Andrzej Jakimowski had moved into production with his new title Blind Watching. The director, popular for the past Polish Oscar entry Tricks, wrote a script following a story of a charismatic blind orientation teacher and his relationship with a blind patient of a special clinic. The film is an international coproduction between ZAiR (www.zair.eu), KMBO (www.kmbofilms.com), and Filmes do Tejo II Multimedia (www.filmesdotejo.pt) and is funded by the Polish Film Institute, the Centre National de la Cinematographie, the Institito Do Cinema E Do Audiovisual (ICA), Canal + Cyfrowy Poland (www.canalplus.pl) and Forum Film Distribution (www.forumfilm.pl).

    One the most complex films made this year with Polish participation was an animated feature Crulic - The Path To Beyond, written and directed by Anca Damian (Crossing Dates). The Romanian-Polish coproduction is based on the story of Claudiu Crulic, a 33-year-old Romanian who starved himself to death in a Polish prison in 2008. The title is an innovative and elaborate mix of animation, photographs and documents,The film is produced by Aparte Film (www.apartefilm.net) with the support of Fundacja im. Ferdynanda Magellana (www.fmagellan.pl) through the Polish coproducer Arkadiusz Wojnarowsky, EUR 50,000 from the Polish Film Institute, and EUR 10 000 from the Krakow Film Commission (www.film-commission.pl), and the Romanian Ministry of Culture and Editura Video (www.editura-video.ro) granted EUR 46 000.

    Apart from several projects currently in production thanks to financing from PISF and other Polish sources, the Institute had assigned grants to six major international projects this year.Currently a Czech director Marek Najbrt is shooting his new drama entitled Polish Film, a comedy following the lives of four actor friends who meet up after many years and decided to make a film. The filmmaker received 1 million PLN (EUR 250,000) financing from the Polish Film Institute on the condition that he will shoot in Poland and with Polish crew members. The Polish coproducer is Off Production. The project also received 1 million PLN in financing from Leszek Czarnecki, the owner of Noble Bank. The Czech filmmaker received significant support from the Krakow Film Commission, facilitating the shoot in the region. Jacek Borcuch ( All That I Love) started shooting his new drama Lasting Moments in the beginning of September 2011. The film is a Polish-Spanish coproduction between Manana (www.manana.pl) and Espiral Producciones (Spain). The title received support from the Polish Film Institute, Krakow Film Commission and the City of Kwidzyn. On 10 September 2011 Irish director Norah McGettingan finished shooting her debut drama Sanctuary exploring the topic of mourning and the relationship between surviving family members after the death of a close one. The film is an international co-production between the Poland's Wajda Studio (www.wajdaschool) and an Irish production company Venom (www.venom.ie). The film received financial support from the Polish Film Institute and the Irish Film Board (www.irishfilmboard.ie).

    International projects supported by PISF this also involve two co-productions with Israel that are still in preparation. The first one is Cyrilson directed by Micha Levenshon and produced by Opus Film (ww.opusfilm.com) with a planned budget of 6.5 million PLN ( EUR 1.7 million) and 700,000 PLN financing from PISF. The second is Two, a drama currently prepared by Oded Davidoff based on a short story written by Isaac Basheviks Singer. The film is a coproduction between Polish Yeti Films and two Israeli companies 2 Team Productions and Pie Films. Two received financial support from PISF and Regional Film Fund Of Lublin ( www.film.lublin.eu).

    Several of Polish co-productions made in 2011 have already been recognized at big international film events including a very good reception during 68th Venice IFF of Roman Polański's Carnage made in co-production with SPI Film Studio (www.spifilmstudio.com), Constantin Film Produktion (www.constantin-film.de) and SBS Productions; as well as Land Of Oblivion, a French-German-Polish film, co-produced by Dariusz Jablonski and Apple Film Production with Films du Poisson (www.filmsdupoisson.com ) and Vanderastic (www.vandertastic.com). High critical praise has also been received by this year's Polish Oscar entry In Darkness, a new drama from Agnieszka Holland. The moving WWII drama is a coproduction between Polish Studio Filmowe ZEBRA (www.zebrafilm.pl), Canadian The Film Works Ltd. and German Schmidtz Katze Filmkollektiv (www.schmidtzkatze.eu), and it is set for a cinema premiere in the beginning of 2012.