Polish Film Institute Fifth Anniversary Special: Interview with Jacek Bromski

By Anna Franklin

    The Polish Film Institute (PISF) has transformed the Polish film industry in the first five years of its existence. FNE spoke with Jacek Bromski, President of the Polish Filmmakers Association (SFP) for 14 years, and director of several of Poland's biggest box office hits over the past two decades. Bromski and the SFP drafted and fought for the legislation that established PISF and the two institutions continue to work closely together.

    FNE: How do the SFP and PISF work together: How did this begin?

    Bromski: The SFP fought for ten years for the new cinema law that established PISF. It was a long struggle and as an indicator of the excellent quality of the legislation other institutions in Hungary and Romania actually copied parts of our draft legislation before we had the right conditions to get it passed in the Polish parliament. They used it before we did. In terms of legislation, we got it right. The SFP fought to establish PISF and we are proud of this achievement. We lobbied for it. We had to wait for the right conditions politically for the new cinema law to be passed. The appointment to the Ministry of Culture of Waldemar Dabrowski who has been a leading figure in the Polish film for many years was an important factor in getting the law passed. The appointment of Agnieszka Odorowicz as head of PISF was mostly my idea. She was already working in the ministry of culture and she has proved to be a very good choice to lead PISF. Cooperation between SFP and PISF is only natural. Together we work on film festivals, promotion and funding for production. The staffs of both organizations work together seamlessly. This is what we have created and we want to ensure we build an organisation that will endure for future generations.

    FNE: Can you compare the situation in the Polish film industry five years ago and now.

    Bromski: Five years ago before the cinema law was passed and PISF was created the number of feature films was diminishing. We need a minimum of 15 to 20 feature films to be produced annually to have enough for the Festival of Polish Films in Gdynia and the situation in film production had become so bad that we had to include TV films to keep it alive. This industry was dying.

    Today 50 films a year are produced. It's easy to make a debut film in Poland, even easier than for experienced filmmakers sometimes. We nurture young talent today in Poland. The programmes of PISF favour debuts. There is Studio MUNK at SFP which also works with young filmmakers; PISF has a number of special programmes for young filmmakers. Our 30 minute film programme and the documentary programme have become part of the first stages in the careers of every young filmmaker in Poland today.

    Today the film industry in Poland is thriving. Once you have the structure, then the talent is there and it will develop.

    FNE: What has been the greatest accomplishment of PISF in these first five years?

    Bromski: The most important achievement has been to convince those who have to pay for the budget of PISF that it's being spent in the right way. And they have no complaints; TV is one of the main sources that our funding comes from. They see that PISF is very well administered. They see the benefits. Films are produced that can be shown on TV channels like Polsat and TVN.

    FNE: How do you see the next five years?

    Bromski: Odorowicz was reelected for another five years and this was a vote of confidence. She is a very good manager. She could be running a big company or a bank and be successful, she adapted into the film milieu, because she really cares about the films. Polish filmmakers obviously support PISF and support Odorowicz.

    About the next five years. We felt then we won the battle to pass the cinema law that we don't have to fight anymore, but it's not true, every year there are new elections and the next parliament could say they want to give the funding that now goes to Polish film to something else like football or something. But cinema is not only art but an industry. It needs a serious funding to go on. So we have to keep alert. We have achieved a lot but we cannot rest on those achievements. We have to continue to work.