Please note that all films screened at the festival will have English subtitles.
(although the trailers below often are in Polish only)
The Best Movie of the 39th Gdynia Film Festival
Screening Time: Oct. 22, Thursday, 7:45PM
Duration: 120 min
Director: Łukasz Palkowski
Screenplay: Krzysztof Rak
Cinematography: Piotr Sobociński, Jr
Music: Barosz Chajdecki
Production: Krzysztof Rak, Piotr Wozniak Starak
Cast: Tomasz Kot, Kinga Preis, Piotr Głowacki, Marian Opania, Szymon Piotr Warszawski, Rafał Zawierucha, Magdalena Czerwińska, Sonia Bohosiewicz, Marian Opania
This film is based on the life of Professor Zbigniew Religa, who performed the first successful heart transplant in Poland in the 1980’s.
It deals with the question of the definition of biological death and examines limits to the competence of surgeons. Religa and a team of young doctors opposed his former mentors. Their struggle concerned not only a fight for equipment and funding, but above all a clash with outdated mindsets.
It portrays a rebel who devoted his life to being a forerunner. The professor saved thousands of human lives, but at the same time, he faced his own pride. Each death of a patient was a painful blow to his ambition. He relieved his feelings of helplessness through alcohol. Palkowski is honest in his narration of that process – he is not interested in Religa’s grandeur, but in his humanity. The Gods is a film about great ambition and willpower, but also about the price one has to pay for success.
The Gods is excellently written, effective and poignant. Palkowski dexterously combines biography and medical drama, comedy and melodrama. The Gods offers a bracing rhythm and a seductive sense of humor.
The Gods swept many awards; in 2014, at the Gdynia Film Festival alone it received a total of five awards, including the top prize: the Golden Lions award for Best Film.
A political thriller with a wakeup call message
Screening Time: Oct.23, Friday, 7:45PM
Duration: 122 min.
Director and Screenplay: Jacek Bromski
Cinematography: Michał Englert
Music: Ludek Drizhal
Production: Jacek Bromski Produkcja Filmowa
Cast: Krzysztof Stroiński, Marcin Kowalczyk, Michalina Olszańska, Piotr Głowacki, and others.
The plot of the Anatomy of Evil skillfully combines two high profile crimes that shocked Poland in recent years, still unsolved, the assassination of general Marek Papała and the disappearance of a journalist Jarosław Ziętara. Another real event that drives the dynamic story of the film is an accusation of war crimes against a group of Polish troops fighting as allies to American forces in Nangar Khel in Afganistan.
Hitman “Lulek” (Krzysztof Stroiński) is released from prison on parole. Soon after, the prosecutor responsible for the arrest several years before makes the man an offer he can't refuse. In exchange for a large sum of money, clearing his file, and the opportunity to quietly leave the country, “Lulek” is to eliminate the chief of the Central Bureau of Investigations.
The killer, impersonating a counter-intelligence officer, involves Staszek (Marcin Kowalczyk) – a sniper who became the scapegoat of a failed mission in Afghanistan and was expelled from the army. During the assassination preparations, Staszek starts to doubt “Lulek's” true intentions. Meanwhile, the people in charge are pressing for a quicker resolution. The deadly count-down begins.
A drama about the power of family ties
Screening Time: Oct.24, Saturday, 1:45PM
Duration: 76 min.
Director: Magdalena Piekorz
Screenplay: Magdalena Piekorz, Wojciech Kurczok
Cinematography: Marcin Koszałka
Music: Adrian Konarski
Production: Studio Tor
Cast: Ewa Wiśniewska, Joanna Orleańska, Łukasz Simlat, Marieta Żukowska , Michał Rolnicki, Henryk Talar, Jacek Braciak, Władysław Kowalski
An intimate psychological drama tells a story of toxic relations between a mother and her daughter.
37 year old Marta gets married and wants to have a baby. She has a loving husband, her own apartment and art studio. But her toxic relationship with her overbearing mother complicates her life in many ways. She cannot cope with the paralyzing dependence on her dominant mother.
The years she spent with her mother under one roof as well as their close relationship make her unable to start life on her own account. Although almost every visit with her mother ends in an argument, Marta still comes back to her. Both women cannot live without each other, and cannot bear to be separated for long. Marta’s husband, caught in between, tries to create a real home with his wife. What does it take for Marta to become free?
Director in an interview for the Film New Europe: “This is a film about closeness and its consequences. It's about how the closer we get to one another, the more we can hurt each other.
We wanted to talk about everyday struggles of people who love each other. I believe that this film can work as a mirror for the viewer to see himself in”.
One of the most important and eagerly awaited Polish movie productions in recent years
Screening Time: Oct. 24, Saturday, 5:45PM
Director and Screenwriter: Jan Komasa
Cinematography: Marian Prokop
Music: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz
Production: Akson Studio
Cast: Józef Pawlowski, Zofia Wichlacz, Anna Próchniak and others.
A riveting film about youth, love and bravery as young Poles enter adulthood in the cruel days of the German occupation.
Stefan, a loving son and brother who cares for his family after his father‘s death, is torn between joining the anti-Nazi underground resistance and a promise he made to his mother that he would not. Faced with daily humiliation from German oppressors in a chocolate factory he works at, Stefan ultimately decides to break his promise and join the Warsaw Uprising.
Warsaw ’44 is one of the most expensive Polish film projects with special effects designed by Richard Bain, the man behind the visual effects of Casino Royale, Inception and King Kong. Warsaw 44 reflects the human side of a battle that led to the total destruction of Warsaw and relives the days of the largest and most tragic revolt undertaken by any European resistance movement against the Germans in occupied Europe. In two months of fighting about 17,000 insurgents and over 200,000 civilians were killed in the doomed uprising, planned by the Polish Home Army (AK) to liberate Warsaw from German occupation.
The old capital was reconstructed through computer generated imagery. Hollywood mastermind Richard Bain looked after the special effects. He's the man behind the visual effects of Casino Royale, Inception, King Kong and had worked with Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson.
A gutsy portrayal of teenage angst
Screening Time: Oct. 24, Saturday, 8:15PM
Duration: 97 min.
Director: Anna Kazejak-Dawid
Screenwriter: Anna Kazejak, Magnus von Horn
Cinematography: Klaudiusz Dwulit
Music: Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Production: Opus Film
Cast: Eliza Rycembel, Mateusz Więcławek, Magdalena Popławska, Dawid Ogrodnik, Andrzej Chyra, Jowita Budnik
Lila and Janek are pupils in a secondary school in a big city. They belong to a generation that communicates primarily via Skype and Facebook. They and their friends live their lives to the full.
They party and experiment with alcohol and marijuana. Quite unexpectedly, one day Lila breaks up with Janek and accuses him of cheating on her. Janek must pay dearly for an innocent mistake: if he grants a promise the girl has forced on him, nothing will ever be the way it was.
Inspired by real events, The Word is at its core a familiar tale of manipulated revenge, but given a fresh and rather disturbing spin in that it is undertaken by teenagers who are driven by naïve passions which make them unable to fully grasp the impact of their actions. While the setting is contemporary Poland, it is a film that could be set virtually anywhere, including the U.S., without any loss to its basic moral message.
The Word is beautifully shot and darkly elegant. Anna Kazejak delivers both a coming of age drama and a crime thriller, largely free of the traditional clichés that normally define such films. It is a compelling film well worth further attention.
A film adaptation of a Polish bestselling thriller
Screening Time: Sunday, Oct.25, 3PM
Duration: 110 min
Director: Borys Lankosz
Screenwriters: Zygmunt Miłoszewski and Borys Lankosz
Cinematography: Łukasz Bielan
Music: Abel Korzeniowski
Producer: Anna Drozd
Cast: Robert Więckiewicz, Jerzy Trela, Magdalena Wałach, Jerzy Trela, and others.
Sandomierz is a picturesque town in southeastern Poland. Early one morning in spring, a woman's naked body is found outside a former synagogue. Someone has slashed her throat and it looks like it was done with an enormous razor found lying nearby.
A big shot prosecutor, Teodor Szacki (Robert Więckiewicz), having divorced his wife leaves Warsaw to start a new life in Sandomierz. After a short while he is called in to investigate the strange and mysterious murder case. Feeling alienated in the small town he struggles to find the killer, finding more victims. He conducts his investigation with the help of an aging policeman and a reluctant lady prosecutor. Gradually he discovers the subtle secrets of local society and history: A love triangle, an ancient Jewish ritual, and some Nazi symbols.
While the investigation continues he realizes that all the murders are connected to alleged historical Jewish ritual killings. The murders prompt a wave of anti-Semitic hysteria in town. Szacki wrestles with the painful tangle of Polish-Jewish relations and finds that old legends may have no basis in truth.
Maurine Corrigan, NPR book critic about Miloszewski’s novel: A Grain of Truth:
A blockbuster spy thriller based on facts
Screening Time: Oct. 25, Sunday, 5:45PM
Duration: 122 min.
Director and Screenwriter: Władyslaw Pasikowski
Cinematography: Magdalena Górka
Music: Jan Duszyński
Production: Scorpio Studio
Cast: Marcin Dorociński, Maja Ostaszewska, Patrick Wilson, and others.
Based on a true story from the Cold War, this intense and entertaining spy thriller tells the extraordinary tale of a man who dared to challenge the Soviet empire.
While planning the military maneuvers of the Warsaw Pact forces, Polish army colonel Ryszard Kukliński has access to top secret information. But he is also haunted by Poland’s forced participation in the repressive and violent events that took place in Czechoslovakia and the Baltic States under Soviet control. In the 1970s, Kukliński decides to rebel. He starts a long, lonely and psychologically exhausting cooperation with the CIA as a double agent. From that moment his life and the life of his family are in constant danger since one careless move may lead to catastrophe.
The plot thickens and takes on a Hitchcock-like pace enhanced by a very effective musical score which complements the increasing atmosphere of anxiety. The viewer is always aware of the danger that lurks around every corner.
Trapped in a deadly maze of intrigue, Kukliński soon realizes that his only true allies are the nameless people who try to take control of the situation from the other side of the world. Kuklinski’s enthusiastic patriotism creates tensions among Soviet officials and in the White House as well. He provides very valuable information but his excessive sense of duty eventually leads him to lose control of the situation. A few mistakes along the way lead to a number of fast-paced, intense scenes, including a breakneck car chase on the snowy streets of Poland featuring vintage cars reminiscent of James Bond or Jason Bourne films.
The first Polish film to win the Grand Prix award at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Screening Time: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30pm
Duration: 73 min.
Directing: Paweł Wysoczański
Script: Paweł Wysoczański
Cinematography: Jacek Kędzierski
Music: Michał Lorenc
Awards: Grand Prize at the Mountaineering Film Festival in Lądek Zdrój, Grand Prix award at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
On October 24, 1989 Jerzy Kukuczka fell to his death while climbing Lhotse. It was the first time he went to the Himalayas with money, proper equipment and international fame. This mysterious death of the climber is not the focus of Pawel Wysoczanski's film. "Jurek" shows a man getting to the top - literally and metaphorically.
Kukuczka was a socialist worker turned international celebrity. He was a poor climber with homemade equipment who rose to compete with Reinhold Messner in a rivalry to climb the highest Himalayan peaks. The film contains interviews with family and friends, as well as archival footage and records, which together create a portrait Polish mountain-climbing community of the 1980s. It also depicts the difficult, stimulating environment in Poland during golden age of Polish climbing, when idealism was valued more than fame.
A story of close relationships, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness.
Screening Time: Oct. 25, Sunday, 1PM
Duration: 40 min.
Directing: Aneta Kopacz
Script: Aneta Kopacz, Tomasz Średniawa
Cinematography: Łukasz Żal
Music: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
Awards: Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary; The best documentary Award at the International Film Festival Prokow, Kiev 2014
With such a multitude of blogs on the Internet, one stands out and becomes the topic of many conversations. The reason so many people follow Joanna's blog is because it teaches them to be thoughtful and joyful. She describes her daily life with overwhelming honesty and accuracy, her goals are as simple as a family trip to the lakes, her planning is as short-term as witnessing her little son riding a bike for the first time.
Diagnosed with untreatable illness, Joanna promises her son that she will do her best to live for as long as possible. She writes down everything she might want him to learn from her when he grows up. With great visual poetry, the documentary portrays simple and meaningful moments in the life of a family. The very few words spoken, and the ones never uttered at all, ultimately make the message powerful and extremely subtle at the same time. It is a story of close relationships, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness.
Screening Time: Sunday, Oct. 25, 1PM
Duration: 15 min.
Director: Paulina Skibińska
Scripts: Paulina Skibińska
Cinematography: Jakub Stolecki
Production: Studio Munka , Studio Puk Katarzyna Szczerba
Object is a creative and abstract image of a underwater search. The action takes place in the dimensions of two worlds – ice desert and underwater. The story is told from the point of view of the rescue team, of the diver entering the underwater all covered by ice, and of the ordinary people awaiting on the shore.
Sundance Film Festival, USA, 2015 (A Short Film Special Jury Award for Visual Poetry)
45th Tampere Film Festival, Finland, 2015 (Diploma of Merit - Documentary)
20th Vilnius International Film Festival, Lithuania , 2015 (Special Mention)
15th T-Mobile New Horizons IFF, Poland, 2015 (Special Mention)
Camden International FF, USA, 2015 (Camden Cartel Award)
25th Message to Man International FF, Russia, 2015 (Special Mention)
Screening Time: Sunday, Oct. 25, 1PM
Duration: 30 min.
Director and Screenwriter: Maciej Marczewski
Cinematography: Radosław Ładczuk
Production: Studio Munka, Wajda Studio, Marymont Films
Maciej Marczewski’s “GAMES” is a short fiction based on Ireneusz Iredyński’s radio play “The Lift”.
The entire story is played out in an elevator which has got stuck. There are two people inside it. They begin to play a startling game. They concoct a shared life, telling each other imaginary stories of their first romantic and amusing meeting and follow right through to the dramatic ending of their acquaintanceship. However, the fiction starts to become intertwined with their real-life experiences.
Their harmless game metamorphoses into a drama seething with extreme emotions. The film depicts how painful and inexorable the games we play with those close to us can be, how we are sometimes incapable of dealing with issues from the past and just how great the power of our imaginations is.
Screening Time: Sunday, Oct. 25, 5:15PM
Duration: 5 min
Director: Beata Pozniak
An experimental short film based on the poem ‘People on the Bridge’ written by Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska and narrated by Beata Pozniak. The film focuses on the poem’s original inspiration, a 19th century Japanese woodblock print entitled People on a Bridge by Hiroshige Utagawa. Six figures are caught in the middle of an old wooden bridge during a sudden rainstorm. As the people run to seek shelter, the drama of this moment in time is captured in the poetry, its form frozen yet infinitely fluid. The resonance of this Japanese masterpiece was such that it inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint a copy in oil for himself. Beata Pozniak plays with the symbolism of time and the bridge as a powerful connection between places, historical periods and cultures.
Visuals of Beata performing are intermingled with images of a 19th century Japanese woodblock print entitled ‘People on a Bridge’ by Hiroshige Utagawa, which provided the original inspiration for the poem. The bridge symbolizes a powerful connection between places, historical periods and cultures.
Screening Time: Friday, Oct. 23, 7:45PM
Duration: 14 min.
Director, Screenwriter, Cinematographer: Andrzej Cichocki
Music: Maciej Sztor
Production: RTF Dept., University of Silesia in Katowice
A war drama based on the feeling of man's unity with nature is a mystical, enigmatic, and striking film.
A man, while hunting a wolf in a primordial forest, is startled by the sound of guns firing. Suddenly, in an explosion of movement of people running, one of them, a small boy, gets lost in the sinister forest. Even the wolves are overwhelmed by a sense of the impending danger.
A moving interpretation of the darkest times in the history of Poland casts light as a protagonist that captures the escape into the forest by a human kind chased by the war; the lost gaze of people and wolves is enlightened with apprehension and hope, between the dark bodies and the bright sunlight, all with a professional rendering of the deepness of history.
Taos Shortz Film Fest 2015, USA, 2015 (Emerging Artist Honourable Mention)
48th Worldfest Houston, USA, 2015 (Gold Remi)
10th Sardinia Film Festival, Italy, 2015 (Special Mention for Photography, School Over 18)
10th Cyprus International Film Festival, Cyprus, 2015 (Best Cinematography in a First Short Film)
2nd MAFICI - International Film Festival Puerto Madryn, Argentina, 2015 (Best Short Fiction Film)
Screening Time: Thursday, Oct. 22, 7:30PM
Duration: 13 min.
Director: Piotr Dumała
Cinematography: Anna Waszczuk
Music: Alexander Balanescu
Awards: Short Film Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.
Hippos is a continuum of human possibilities, from beauty to murder. A group of women and children is bathing in a river. Then the men arrive. When one of them, the alpha-male, feels encouraged to approach one of the women, her rejection results a violent reaction. This turns into a brutal, albeit beautiful, dance of naked bodies, silently reflected in the smooth surface of the water.
Dumała's film, inspired by the rituals of hippos, illustrates the confrontation of the sexes, and the unusual dialogue of human bodies taking advantage of the opponent's weaknesses.
Screening Time: Sunday, Oct. 25, 1PM
Duration: 14 min.
Director: Witold Giersz
Awards: Special Mention at the Krakow Film Festival for everlasting art and humanistic message
Signum strives to synthesize contemporary art with the oldest one, increasingly underestimated. Paintings painted by the first artists thousands of years ago revive in a rock cave. Both human and animal figures join, moving expressively. The motifs of escape, and of pursuit, are interpreted anew, bringing into motion paintings frozen in silence centuries ago. Extremely dynamic, Signum, is a manifestation of the primeval and eternal human need to express oneself through pictures.
Even in the modern age, with all the technological aids available, Witold Giersz remains faithful to the painting patronage of his own film art. This time, he created the impression on the stones, and painting with clay and burnt coal remained immortalized on film stock.
Witold Giersz was born in Poraj, Poland; animator, scriptwriter, designer, director. He has made about 60 animated films as: “Little Western”, “Awaiting”, “Red and Black”, “The Horse”, “Fire”, “The Star”, “Rondo alla Turca”, “Signum”. He applies his technique of animation by painting on the board under the camera.
Screening Time: Saturday, Oct. 24, 1:45PM
Duration: 5 min.
Director: Michał Socha
Silver Lajkonik at the Kraków Film Festivall, Bronze Pegasus at the 1st Animator Festival in Poznań, and Golden Goats as the best animation for young people at the 26th Young Audience Film Festival.
The film portrays the deadly charms of a femme fatale with insight, originality and humor. Full of surreal humor, this purely nonsense story about males and females is modeled, as declared by its author, on real life. It begins with thorough preparations: taking a bath, dressing-up and putting on make up. Finally, a man and a woman meet. They talk, sip drinks, dance to spirited music, make love. When the bewildered man leaves the room he will suffer a shock. The allure of the femme fatale may prove to be fatal.
The striking visual design makes an excellent match for the extremely expressive music which sometimes leads the narration. The narrative, sprouting with surrealistic humor, about a typical date with an unusual ending brings to mind film classics, shown in a refreshed form.
INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION SELECTIONS
The results are in! Please check it out here!
APFF supports the Austin Jewish Film Festival (AJFF)- our film of choice of the AJFF 2015 is "Run Boy Run"
Please see the description here: Run Boy Run