Play Poland Film Festival is a series of film screenings and accompanying events, which is distinguished in the autumn calendar of cultural events by the Polish flavour as well as the support of numerous reputed cultural institutions. Polish Art Europe, a non-profit organisation, which promotes the Polish culture and art has managed to find significant partners and see to the excellent selection of repertoire.
“Contemporary Polish cinema is an interesting phenomenon. Films created by directors, cameramen as well as soundtrack authors who received numerous awards worldwide revolve around fascinating histories perceived from the point of view of a resident of the country after a political transformation who tries to account for his legacy. This does not have to be a socially or historically committed cinema. This is frequently an author’s and intimate film in which a director talks about his own experience,” comments Mr Bartosz Konopka, a director of “Fear of Falling,” a drama which will be screened at the festival. According to Mr Konopka, Polish films should win the approval of spectators from the West, “because Polish cinema is full of humanism. An apocalyptic and melancholic trend as well as
a doubt in a human being prevail in films shot in other countries. We still have hope. We reflect on the human condition and still believe in a human being,” adds Mr Konopka.
Festival events will be inaugurated by a screening of “Joanna,” a film directed by Feliks Falk which was frequently awarded. This film
is going to be shown on 28 September in Birmingham, on 11 October in Edinburgh and on 25 October in Liverpool. “Joanna” revolves around a dramatic story of
a woman who looks after an abandoned Jewish girl of several years in
the German occupied Warsaw. As the time passes by, the presence of the girl becomes a source of fear and suffering for Joanna, while the goodness of her heart turns into a curse. Does this mean that humanity loses the struggle with fear? “Joanna” transpires to be not only a pervert story about significant choices as well as fate bringing love for which one has to pay a high price, but also a project shot and acted with both verve and sensitivity, which is so typical of the creator of such well known films as “Wodzirej” (eng. “Master of Ceremonies”) and “Był jazz”
(eng. “It Was Jazz”).
“80 Millions” by Waldemar Krzystek is another film at the festival which will be screened in Birmingham on 4 October and in Edinburgh on 18 October. This is
a story taking place in the Lower Silesia just before the proclamation of the martial law in Poland, which revolves around young activists from the Solidarity who organise a daring action of stealing the union’s 80 million zlotys from a bank located in Wrocław before the account is blocked. The officers of the secret police in communist Poland are constantly dogging their footsteps. Clergymen and black-market money changers are also engaged in this fascinating game, with both of these groups having an ace up their sleeve.
Another festival’s cherry is Małgorzata Szumowska’s “Sponsoring” (8th November Edinburgh) which has stirred controversies among European audiences. The film tells a story of girls who by selling their bodies can afford a higher standard of life. This fascinates Anne – a journalist of a well-known newspaper played by Juliette Binoche. The director avoids judging main characters leaving it open to the viewers as to whether sponsoring is a form of prostitution, act of feminism or maybe a way of making a living in tough times.
Enthusiasts of a more personal cinema will have an opportunity to watch
the previously mentioned “Fear of Falling” by Bartosz Konopka which will be screened on 12 October in Birmingham, on 25 October in Edinburgh,
on 11 November in Oxford and on 15 November in Liverpool. A director who
is focused on intimate and family relations admits that this story was brought into life because he needed to cope with the death of his own father. A main character has a successful career as a TV presenter and a happy private life when he suddenly learns about his father’s serious problems. Can we deal with fear of being close to other person? According to the director, “Fear of Falling” is a story about searching for love. This also transpires to be a male melodrama which focuses on difficult emotions that are only present among males.
Finally, a daring Polish-American production “Wygrany” (eng. “The Winner”) which was directed by Wiesław Saniewski will be screened on 18 October in Birmingham, on 1 November in Edinburgh and on 15 November in Belfast. Shot on a grand scale, the film revolves around a story of a talented American pianist of Polish descent who lost everything in his life, namely love, recognition and career. Only after an accidental meeting with his former mathematics professor did he find his own way in life as well as true love. The excellent acting of the star-studded cast is complemented by a soundtrack featuring not only Chopin’s compositions, but also Elvis Presley’s hits.
Starting in September, special screenings of short, documentary as well as animated films will also take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Sunderland, Newcastle and London.
Owing to the depth and visual appeal, a particular attention should be drawn to films created in the Andrzej Munk’s Studio, including “Piece of Summer” by Marta Mironowicz, “Poza starością” (eng. “Beyond the Old Age”) by Grzegorz Wacławek which is an animation full of romantic mood and nostalgia, or frequently awarded “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Room” by Kuba Czekaj and many more other films, not to mention the Oscar nominated picture by Tomek Bagiński, “The Cathedral.”
Spectators of this year’s edition of the festival will also have a chance to see
the Polish film poster exhibition, “Poster of Imagination,” where they may admire posters from the period of the Cold War that were created for American films.
The posters owe their uniqueness to the clash of Polish grey socialism with tempting Hollywood. A political situation of the time as well as the limited access to distributor’s materials are responsible for the fact that artists could only rely on their own perception of the world behind the Iron Curtain, which undoubtedly contributed to an original style of their work. The exhibition is comprised of
ca. 40 posters of such artists as Edward Lutczyn and Henryk Sawka. The posters were designed to films created by such famous directors as Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood and Francis Coppola.
More information with regard to the programme of the festival which will run until December, venues and tickets may be found on the Internet website of
the festival, www.playpoland.org.uk, which also features interesting pieces of film information, as well as on the official festival’s fan page on Facebook – www.facebook.com/#!/PlayPoland
The project has been subsidised by the Polish Film Institute, the Polish Community,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Polish Consulate General in Edinburgh and
the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ottawa.
Ryanair, MoneyGram, Justycja and Orfin Studio are also the official sponsors of Play Poland Film Festival 2012.
The following ones are the media patrons of this event: TVP Kultura, NK, Filmweb, Emito, Londynek, Fotka, Panorama, Polish Express, Dziennik Polski, Goniec Polski, Ipla, The Polish Observer, Magazyn Emigrant, Halo TV, Nowy Czas, Polacy, Strefa, Polska Plus, GazetaE, KobietaWUK, Doncaster4u, Nasz Express; this list also features the British media such as The Skinny, MovieScope Magazine, Screen International, Eyeforfilm, Film-News and Subtitledonline.
Festival events are supported by several dozen organisations of the Polish community, universities, festivals, film studios and film schools from the United Kingdom, Poland, Ireland, Canada and Norway.