The Polish Film Institute: first production, then promotion

By Toma Peiu

    "The Warsaw International Film Festival is one of our priorities when it comes to film-related events," says Jacek Fuksiewicz, Deputy Director for Film Production at the Polish Film Institute.

    The Film Institute, founded in 2006, has been a traditional partner of the WFF for the past three years. The PFI also supports festivals in Lodz, Krakow, Wroclaw and Gdynia, and is responsible for promoting Polish cinema at the Cannes and Berlin film markets, and choosing and promoting Poland's foreign-language Oscar nominee.

    Yet, the PFI's focus is not necessarily on events: 65% of the its 40 million euro budget goes to film production and development. Along with giving 80,000 euros for the Warsaw Film Festival, the PFI gave 5 million euro for Andrzej Wajda's Oscar nominated film Katyn. To critics who argue that the festival should receive more PFU support, Fuksiewicz replies, "We are glad that big private companies like the Polish Telecom or the RWE support production and festivals, this is the way it should be."

    One of the big aims of the Institute at the moment is to develop a regular co-production scheme. Over the last 2 years, the Polish-German Fund, an initiative in which the Film Institute teams up with the Mitteldeutsche Fund and Berlin-Babelberg Fund in Germany, has supported 36 out of the 60 films that will involve Poland as a production or co-production country in 2009.

    Poland is also developing its own network of regional film funds, which may make it easier to find production money in the region. Eastern European countries co-produce mostly with Western partners because that is where the money is at the moment, claims Fuksiewicz. The situation might improve, according to him, with the growth of the CentEast Market in Warsaw, which "may be a very good place for producers in the region to establish contacts and network with possible partners in the region."