FNE at Krakow 50th Anniversary: Interview with Krzysztof Gierat

By Katarzyna Grynienko

    The 50th edition of the Krakow Film Festival started on the 31st of May and will last till the 6tth of June 2010. Festival Director Krzysztof Gierat talked to FNE about the influence that the event has on the industry and plans for the future.

    1. How did the Krakow Film Festival (ww.kff.com.pl) change over the last 50 years? What were its most significant breakthrough moments?

    Half a century is a long time; for example it covers to different political eras. We are covering it all in the jubilee album that will be published during the festival. I'd like to focus on the last 10 years, on my time. Firstly we changed the name to make it more approachable; secondly the time of the event was increased up to a week, several new sections emerged outside of the main competition and two years ago we added a new competition for the best feature documentary film with the Golden Horn Award. It resulted in a lot more movies, screenings and festival buildings. It was all established for our viewers, but we also engaged in taking care of film professionals from all over the world. For the last five years we have been hosting an Industry Zone, including the digital video technology market and project pitchng during the Dragon Forum.

    2. How is the jubilee edition going to differ from the previous festivals? Are there any special events planned to celebrate this anniversary?

    {mosimage}This jubille consists of summaries. It is important to pay attention to the Top Ten Krakow - two golden sets composed of the best Polish and international films presented during the Krakow festival. We are also recalling the works of filmmakers awarded with Dragon of the Dragons, a prize that we've been granting for the last 12 years to the greatest animators and documentary directors for their input in the world of cinema. This year's award will be given to the legend of New York avant-garde Jonas Mekas. Our special events also include screenings of the Israeli cinematography works. The Focus On Israel program includes a documentary film review and a conference with the representatives of the Israeli film industry. The accredited guests will also be invited to take part in jubilee concert held in the Juliusz Słowacki Theater, the place of the first film screening that ever took place in Poland.

    3. What are the future plans of development for the festival?

    We are focusing on strengthening two spheres, one for the viewer and the other for the international network of film professionals. A festival has to have an audience, its most important mission is to enable short and documentary film lovers to have contact with the most important trends of the international and Polish cinema. We are planning a novelty especially for them - a selection of feature films close to the documentary genre. But a modern festival has to be a place where the industry members can meet. Here the projects are being discussed, here the co-productions are established and also here a selection from other important international festivals is taking place. For the filmmakers Krakow very often was and should be a trampoline to a career on the international level.

    4. What is the place of the Krakow Film Festival on the map of Polish film events?

    This oldest Polish film festival and was the only international cinema event in our country for a couple of decades. Right now we have a couple of significant festivals of an international rank, but Krakow still remains the fortress of the short and documentary film. It is of great importance that this event is a place of confrontation between the best Polish works of the genre and carefully picked representatives of international cinema.

    5. What are the main criteria of film selection for the festival, does the event have a certain "profile"?

    Krakow have always been associated with artistic cinema. We are not interested in film sociological commentary or a fervent reportage written with a camera. The movies that we present here contain a reflection of the world in all its complexity : with wars, religious conflicts and other nightmares of the present times. But we always see it trough the prism of a human being. The biggest satisfaction comes from discovering new talents and observing the consecutive successes of "our" filmmakers like the recent awards won by Marcel and Paweł Łoziński for their films Poste restate and Chemo, which started their international careers in Krakow.

    6. What is the meaning of the festival for the Polish filmmakers, is the event playing an important part in the promotion of Polish cinema?

    First of all we are the only festival in Poland that enables its winners to be a candidate for the American and European Academy awards. Krakow was always attractive not only because of the prize pool (250,000 PLN). Here filmmakers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mike Leigh, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Werner Herzog were presenting their works. Here a career of Sergei Loztnits, awarded with a Gold and Silver Drason as well as the Golden Horn, fully took off. Finally it is here that the representatives of several international festivals come to watch the Polish productions of the year which qualified for the competitions, the Polish Cinema Panorama and are nvited to participate at the Market. The festival is just the beginning of the promotional supervision, but the Krakow Film Fundation (www.kff.com.pl/fundacja) is working on it during the whole year with projects such as Polish Shorts and Polish Docs supported by the Polish Film Institute.

    7. What are the most interesting points of this year's program?

    Obviously the competitions are always the most exciting, especially this year's edition of the modified documentary competition (10 full feature titles and 10 semi feature titles), the features and animations in this year's short film competition are very attractive and the highly rejuvenated Polish competition will surely surprise the viewers. It is worth it to take a chance and familiarize oneself with the works of Mekas. The Israeli films are not to be missed. For the young audience I would recommend the student étude and video clip nights. If the weather will let us the Szczepański Square will be reigned with musical cinema.

    8. How is the festival in Krakow "educating" the Polish audience?

    Krakow is the academic city. The whole festival is a very specific educating process. Our mission is evoking love for the X Muse and enabling those already in love to get the next levels of knowledge, also the professional level. That's why we are hosting camera directing workshops with Marcin Koszałka and for the members of the film industry we propose the Dragon Forum (www.dragonforum.pl) and this year also a guest edition of the Documentary Campus (www.documentary-campus.pl). So before the summer session exams start, we invite you all to Krakow!