Are you into bold artistic cinema, directors looking for new forms of artistic expression, or perhaps you love star-studded casts and enormous film productions? Do you follow Polish moviemakers or dream of meeting directors from halfway around the globe? Polish film festivals offer a wide spectrum of emotions for every person who, when asked about cinema, replies without hesitation: “I love it!”
Gdynia Film Festival
The Gdynia Polish Film Festival is the most important film event in the country and of the oldest film festival in Europe to promote the Polish film industry on such a large scale. It has existed since 1974; until 1986, PFF was organized in Gdańsk; then Gdynia became its main venue with the Danuta Baduszkowa Musical Theatre as the festival’s center. Each year, visitors come in great numbers to participate in this celebration of the Polish cinema which allows for an open confrontation of the film work with the audience, observers, and film life participants as well as journalists.
The event is attended by ca. 2,000 professionals and 45,000 viewers each year. Polish and international guests: filmmakers, actors, producers, festival programmers, come to Gdynia. The most interesting Polish films, premieres, debuts, and international film festivals’ prizewinners compete over the Golden and Silver Lions and other individual awards. The Golden Lions open the path to commercial success for films and for their authors and producers to be recorded in the history of the Polish cinema. This annual convention of the great Polish film family earned the status of the national film festival and one of the most effective forms of promoting the Polish film industry.
International New Horizons Film Festival
Wrocław, July / August
The New Horizons Festival has become the most frequently visited festival in Poland and one of the most popular events of this kind in this part of Europe (with more than 100k visitors each year), as well as an important venue for meetings of the international film industry representatives. This is a festival of cinema visionaries and adamant artists brave enough to follow their own path without concern for trends and to talk about pressing issues using their own, unique language. From among hundreds of films screened every year at international festivals, as well as these sent for selection, the festival features those which — due to their unusual form and power of expression — cannot be forgotten.
These films evoke reactions, stir up emotions, give rise to vigorous discussions, and provoke raptures and protests. Yet, it is these kind of works that set the trends for the international film industry. The festival’s mission is to present the achievements of the cinema masters and discover the works of artists who are less known, yet their work is of tremendous importance for the festival’s creators. Films made by visual artists, experimental movies, and works by artists exploring non-fiction have an important place in the festival’s program. The festival also features multimedia projects in the urban and gallery space, as well as exhibitions exploring the historic and modern ties between the cinema and art. The event also gives an opportunity to take a closer look at the most interesting places on the cinematic map of the world and to discover films that are not so easily found in regular distribution.
Warsaw Film Festival
Established in 1985, the Warsaw Film Festival joined in 2009 the elite group of events recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (www.fiapf.org) as international film festivals – next to Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, San Sebastian. The festival launched in 1985 on the initiative of a group of enthusiasts, members of the Hybrydy film club. For many years it had functioned as the Warsaw Film Week, later to become the Warsaw Film Festival. Its first director was Roman Gutek, who was replaced by Stefan Laudyn in 1995. It was thanks to him that the WFF has become one of the most interesting film events in this part of Europe over the past two decades.
The ambition of the organizers is to show the visitors of the festival the latest trends in global cinematography. They want to show a movie before its gets an Academy award, organize meet-ups with directors before they succeed in Cannes. The viewers visiting WWF – usually before anyone else in Poland – get to see independent American, Asian, Latino, Iranian, Russian, or Romanian movies. Some of the most amazing directors, like Michael Haneke, Paweł Pawlikowski, Ashgar Farhadi, or Lenny Abrahamson and hundreds of others, had usually been guests of the WFF before they reached the top. WWF is a must-go event every cinema lover (not only living in Warsaw) should mark in their calendar.
Cinematographers are artists and creators of the visual layer of each film, just like the director and actors. The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography CAMERIMAGE is the greatest and most recognized festival dedicated to the art of cinematography and its creators, the cinematographers. The unconventional format of the festival, which awards films according to their visual, aesthetic, and technical values, provides an alternative to traditional film festivals. The festival proves to be a great forum not only for the presentation but also for further development of international moviemaking.
CAMERIMAGE helps young filmmakers and integrates the community of those already recognized, allowing them to explore new artistic areas. Organized by Marek Żydowicz, the festival has traveled from Toruń to Łódź and Bydgoszcz, always attracting the greatest Polish and foreign cinematographers. Meetings, lectures, screenings of the best films in terms of cinematographic value are just some of the many attractions offered every year by the organizers. Besides the Main Competition, the festival also features other events such as Student Etudes Competition, Polish Films Competition, Feature Debutes Competition, Music Videos Competition, Camerimage Market, Camerimage Forum, special screenings, cinema reviews, retrospectives, and meetings.
Millenium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival
Warszawa / Gdynia / Bydgoszcz / Wrocław / Lublin, May
The festival wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Artur Liebhart, a one-man institution with great organizational skills, who’s in a committed relationship with the cinema. It is thanks to him that Docs Against Gravity has had fourteen successful editions (meanwhile changing its name) and has become one of Poland’s most important film festivals. The largest in Poland and the most popular in this part of Europe festival of documentary films has brought this genre in vogue in Poland, attracting considerable interest among the viewers and major opinion leaders.
The repertoire includes the best documentaries which trigger reflections on the world today and invite the audiences on a journey to the most unique destinations. The festival provides a rare opportunity for all those who are interested in other cultures. Docs Against Gravity offers a solid dose of knowledge on how economic and civilizational evolution are changing the cultures in distant parts of the world and seduces with intimate pictures showing people from different regions of the globe struggling with their everyday problems.
Film and Art Festival Two Riversides
Kazimierz Dolny, July / August
The event is a film festival with its origins in Kazimierz. It launched 1995 as the Summer of Films festival, which, after having its format and name changed several times, finally evolved to become the Film and Art Festival Two Riversides with Grażyna Torbicka as its artistic director. What makes this festival stand out from other events of this kind is the confrontation of various areas of art and non formal interaction between the audience and the artists: the red carpet has been replaced by a festival café, where everyone can meet an artist.
This festival is for those who want to escape from the commercialized world and expect a program in which the direct contact with the cinema is essential: meetings with directors, actors, unhurried conversations, reflections on films. For the assumption of the event is to bring the audience closer to the creators, films, literature, music and visual arts, that is, all the areas from which the X Muse draws inspiration. The festival’s program features examples of auteur, artistic, independent, and socially engaged cinema, original forms of contemporary cinema and young European cinema.
Koszalin Debut Film Festival, The Young & Cinema
This event offers a review of the best feature films, documentaries, and animations directed by debuting filmmakers. Its history stretches back to 1973, when Edward Gierek governed the People‘s Republic of Poland. Back then, at the International Filmmakers’ Meetings in Koszalin, the following creators presented their works: Krzysztof Zanussi (The Jantar ‘73 Award for “The Illumination”), Krzysztof Kieślowski (The Jantar ‘76 Award for “Personnel”), Agnieszka Holland (The Jantar ‘79 Award for “Provincial Actors”).
Since its inception, the festival has been promoting the Polish film industry and has become an original chronicle of our era, by inspiring lively discussions on the state of the Polish cinema of young creators. The festival comprises two competition events for Polish films: Full-length Feature Debuts and Short Feature Debuts. An important in terms of substance event at the festival are the “Honesty for honesty” discussions held after each screening of film selected for competition as well as an attractive music scene. Artists such as Xawery Żuławski or Jan Komasa debuted at this festival.
Transatlantyk offers more than a mere overview of the best and the most intriguing films from around the globe – it is more of an interdisciplinary discussion on the state of modern culture and our civilization, but also meetings with artists and an opportunity to participate in their creative processes. The director and founder of the festival is recognized composer, Oscar-winning Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. The idea behind the festival was to create a cultural event based on three pillars: film, music, education and industry actions. Transatlantyk Festival provides an opportunity to watch the latest and the most important movies awarded at prestigious film festivals (Cannes, Berlin, Venice or Sundance), retrospectives, documentaries, short films, and animations, but also to meet prominent filmmakers and guests from all over the world.
Netia Off Camera
Kraków, April / May
Versatility and constant search for new, yet undiscovered territories – these are the determinants of the independent cinema. It’s celebrated every year in Kraków. The International Festival of Independent Cinema Netia Off Camera is one of the youngest and most important film events in Poland, launched in 2008. Netia Off Camera enters the urban space by turning the Szczepański Square into an outdoor cinema, creating a Cinema under the Stars on the Vistula Boulevards, and organizing special screenings on the roofs of Kraków’s tenement houses. Also, the artists themselves bring the independent cinema closer to the residents of the city and tourists. Away from paparazzi and red carpets, they meet the visitors in the specially created Film Village. The festival offers very diverse film proposals – next to ar thouse works, we may find also films that are closer to the mainstream. The festival also offers quite an event for the lovers of TV series. As part of the Canal+SerialCon, the audience will be able to meet their favorite actors and learn about the latest and newest trends that determine the success of small screen productions.