Polish Film Institute celebrates success in Venice


    The Polish Film Institute is celebrating in Venice this year with five of the films it backed being selected for screening in the Biennale.

    PFI Director
    Agnieszka Odorowicz and Polish Filmmakers Association President Jacek Bromski were in Venice to host a poolside party in honour of the PFI productions and co-productions participating in the Venice Film Festival.

    The guest of honour was British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, whose film Nightwatching is a Polish co-production with Gremi Film Production (www.gremi.pl) and is screening in the main competition. Greenaway shot the entire film in HD4K format.

    The canny PFI also backed Ken Loach's It's a Free World, another Venice competition film which is a co-production with Poland's SPI International (www.spiintl.com). Justyna Nowak's Wazki (Dragonflies) was screened in the short film section. Sztucki (Tricks) -- directed by Andrzej Jakimovski, produced by Opus Film (www.opusfilm.com) and backed by the PFI -- is screening in the Venice Days sidebar.

    "We look for interesting opportunities for collaboration and it works," said Maciej Karpinski, deputy director of PFI (www.pisf.pl) about this year's co-production successes. "You can see it here. We are not bankers. We look for good projects that use Polish talent."

    But perhaps the most visionary decision of PFI was a project it backed that was not to be seen at the film festival at all. Internationally acclaimed Polish artist Lew Majewski's masterpiece Blood of a Poet was selected to participate in the Biennale Art Exhibition. Its 33 interrelated video art features, which form a feature-length film, is screening nightly in its own theatre on the island of Giudecca, from June until Sept. 30.

    The Venice Festival itself rolled out with a huge and refreshingly democratic gala opening dinner on the beach of the Excelsior Hotel, where festival director Marco Mueller greeted guests that included Kiera Knightly to enjoy the finest in Italian cuisine and to watch a stunning display of fireworks.

    The programme of the festival in general had nothing for Central Europeans to celebrate, with no films from the region in the main programme. The only other country with a feature film from the region besides Poland was Estonia with Sügisball (Autumn Ball), produced by Kuukulgur Film (www.kuukulgur.ee) and directed by Vieko Öunpuu. Sügisball screened in the Horizontal Days sidebar.