Record year for Polish cinema

By Katarzyna Grynienko
    The Polish Film Institute's (PFI) support for Polish cinema development made 2008 a record year in box office and one of the best for Polish production.

    Polish audience ratings reached 34.1 million viewers, a record for the past two decades. This significant growth (from 32.6 million in 2007) is the result of an increasing interest in local productions. Of the 12 highest grossing openings in 2008, six were Polish titles. Local production noted a significant boost from 39 movies in 2007 to 60 in 2008. Most were created with co-funding from the Polish Film Institute, which introduced a modern financing and support system designed to develop the local cinema.

    "2008 can be jokingly called the year of Polish comedy as the viewers, given a choice between Hollywood productions and domestic features, had no hesitations in picking titles from Polish filmmakers with actors that they know and like," Agnieszka Odorowicz, the Director of PFI, told FNE. Indeed the top box office hit was a comedy Ladies (160 screens; aprox. 2,5milions viewers) directed by Tomasz Konecki. In second place was Don't Lie Honey from Piotr Wereśniak (156 screens; 1,39milions admissions), also a comedy, as was the third ranked film, How Much Does the Trojan Horse Weigh? by Juliusz Machulski.

    Although comedy ruled the Polish box office, domestic cinema is developing across genres. "What especially pleases me is that, out of 8.5 million viewers who chose Polish productions, many of them saw movies that are not easy, unambiguous and provoke reflection. It proves that Polish cinema has a need for modern movies made for ambitious viewers, not only entertainment," Odorowicz told FNE.

    2008 was an excellent year for Polish cinema internationally, with 27 titles winning over 40 awards. An Oscar for Best Animated Short was given to Suzie Templeton's Peter and Wolf and the strongly praised Katyń from Andrzej Wajda was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film. Other Polish success stories include Małgorzata Szumowska's 33 Scenes From Life, awarded with a Silver Leopard in Locarno, Jerzy Skolimowski's Four Nights With Anna opening the Director's Forthright in Cannes, Andrzej Jakimowski's Tricks awarded with The Polish Film Prize, and Michał Rosa's Scratch which won the Best Script Prize at the Gdynia Film Festival.

    This year PFI (www.pisf.pl) plans to continue with the endeavors that led to such successful results in 2008. "In 2009 we had initially planned to administer 76 million PLN for the support of Polish cinema. As always our attention is especially on debuts, as the first step in a filmmaker's life needs support from an institution created to assist the development of Polish cinema," Odorowicz told FNE.