The Krakow Film Festival, the oldest and most highly regarded in the country, runs from May 25 to June 1, during which time about 250 films from Poland and beyond will be screened at ten locations around the city, attended by 600 Polish and international cinema VIPs and thousands of film lovers. The festival, founded in 1961, remains one of Europe’s most important – its official recognition by the Paris-based International Federation of Film Producers Associations, the European Film Academy, and the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences means that winners here become automatically eligible for the European Film Awards and the Oscars, in some categories.
This year, 31 countries are represented in the international division of the festival, which includes categories for music documentaries, short and feature-length documentary and fiction films, and animation. Among these will be the the German-Syrian documentary The Return to Homs, written and directed by Talal Derki, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The national division, which was defunct for years following the near collapse of the Polish film industry after the fall of Communism, this year features 41 homecrafted films.
In addition to the competition categories, there will be a number of special theme programmes, including Focus on the UK. This event, which in the past has featured Israel, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, includes a selection of recent British documentaries as well as an industry panel by UK filmmakers. “We always get a lot of submissions from the British Isles; this year there were almost 250 of them,” said Festival Director Krzysztof Gierat, “The quantity definitely translates into quality.” Other non-competition documentary programmes are ‘World Stories’ featuring films on such diverse subjects as a Russian reindeer shepherdess (Olga – to My Friends) and Egyptian freedom fighters (The Square), as well as ‘Somewere in Europe’, which focuses on marginalised groups across the continent.
The full calendar of events has yet to be announced, but the festival is always livened by exhibitions, concerts, meetings with filmmakers, retrospectives of distinguished directors’ works, features on outstanding television, and even a Kids Fest. The organisers also annually award the Dragon of Dragons to exceptional filmmakers, such as Werner Herzog and Jonas Mekas. This year the honour goes to Bogdan Dziworski, a Polish cameraman, screenwriter and photographer best known for his sports documentaries with sparse dialogue and artfully engineered framing.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit: www.krakowfilmfestival.pl