End of Uncertainty for Warsaw Film Festival

By Katarzyna Pachelska
    The 24th Warsaw International Film Festival is turning out to be a breakthrough edition in terms of the event's financing.

    For the first time in the festival's history, a long-term sponsorship agreement has been signed with RWE, one of the largest power companies in Poland.

    "This is an extremely reassuring situation for us," says Stefan Laudyn, the festival's director. "Of course we have had sponsors, to mention Nescafe Gold with which we have collaborated for seven years, but those agreements were renewed every year. Now we are free of the uncertainty which was with us over the past years. We will finally be able to focus on organizing next year's jubilee 25th Festival," a pleased Laudyn adds.

    Both parties are bound by a confidentiality clause, so they will not disclose how many years the agreement is for, nor the amount of funds involved. But they acknowledge that the negotiations were unusually brief. "They started in late summer," Laudyn reveals. The agreement itself was signed just before the festival began.

    RWE is experienced in financing film festivals; they have been a sponsor of the film festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic for many years. In the case of the Warsaw festival, RWE is not only providing money for organization but also helping to build the event's promotional strategy.

    The festival's budget is estimated at between 1 million and 1.5 million euros (3.5 million to 5.25 million zlotys). About 40 per cent of that comes from private sponsors (the main sponsor RWE, Nescafe Gold, empik.com, TCM, and Benq), another 40 per cent from public institutions (the City of Warsaw, the Polish Film Institute, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and the European Union Media programme), while 20 per cent comes from ticket sales (tickets cost PLN 10 or PLN 15 depending on the screening time).

    Among public institutions, the City of Warsaw has been the most generous, subsidizing the festival to the amount of 1.3 million zlotys. The PFF provided 350,000 zlotys, the Ministry of Culture 200,000 zlotys, and the EU's Media programme 35,000 euros (approximately 122,500 zlotys). This brings the total of public and EU support to about 1.97 million zlotys.

    In terms of spending, the biggest item is the cost of renting screening rooms. "Each year sees increased spending related to foreign guests attending the festival: filmmakers, actors, and participants in the CentEast market," the festival's director adds.