All films screened at the festival, if not originally in English, have English subtitles.
Film critic from Poland, Mariola Wiktor, will make introductions to all films.
Director Agnieszka Holland in attendance.
Friday, Nov.1, 7:30 pm
1h 59min | Biography, Drama, Thriller | 2019
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Screenplay: Andrea Chalupa
Cinematography: Tomasz Naumiuk
Music: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz
Cast: James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard,
Fenella Woolgar, Michalina Olszańska, Joseph Mawle,
Kenneth Cranham, Krzysztof Pieczyński, Patrycja Volny,
Golden Berlin Bear (nominee), Berlinale 2019;
Golden Lions for Best film and Best production design, Gdynia Polish Film Festival (winner)
Shot in Poland, Scotland and in original locations in the Ukraine, Agnieszka Holland’s film recalls the legendary journalist Gareth Jones (1905-1935) who, despite fierce resistance, could not be dissuaded from telling the truth. Jones’s encounter with the young George Orwell is said to have inspired the latter’s dystopian parable ‘Animal Farm’ (1945).
Based on real events, the dramatic thriller "Mr. Jones" chronicles a young Welsh investigative journalist, Mr. Jones (James Norton), who goes to Moscow to interview Stalin and report on a rapid modernization of the Soviet Union. There he meets a British journalist, Ada Brooks, and thanks to her he discovers that the truth about the Stalinist regime is brutally muffled by Soviet censors. He sets out on a lonely journey through Ukraine. He witnesses the tragedy of a tremendous famine (Holodomor) caused by the Soviet policy and describes it after his return to London. The publication is silenced and its authenticity is questioned by Western journalists who remain under pressure from the Kremlin. Despite death threats Gareth continues his fight for the truth. He decides to share his discoveries with a young, aspiring writer - George Orwell.
Agnieszka Holland, in an interview for the APFF, said this about her latest work: “It is an important film. It asks questions that are relevant. And they are also very relevant in the USA: What is the truth? What is the fake news? And what is true news? What is the responsibility of media? What is the responsibility of the politicians? How easy it is to betray the truth and justice? And how easy it is to lose democracy?”.
A MINOR GENOCIDE / MAŁA ZAGŁADA
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2:00 pm
1h 12min | Documentary, Animation, War | 2018
Director: Natalia Koryncka-Gruz
Screenplay: Natalia Korycka-Gruz & Anna Janko
Animation: Tomasz Siwiński
Music: Alex Gruz
Narration: Magdalena Cielecka
Cast: Teresa Ferenc, Anna Janko, Zuzanna Majer
Three generations of women - a mother, a daughter and a granddaughter - tell their story of war trauma directly experienced by the mother, who miraculously survived a Nazi pacification of her village Sochy (Poland) on the 1st of June 1943, making her one of the very few survivors. The story of a family trauma being passed on to younger generations is a mere starting point for a deep conversation about war’s impact on children, as well as violence - one that’s not only occurring during military conflicts, but also revealing itself in times of peace through the horrific ways people treat animals.
The screenplay is based on a award-winning 2015 book by a poet Anna Janko and features a story of her mother, Teresa Ferenc, who, at the age of nine, survived a massacre perpetrated by German Nazi soldiers. The cutout animations seen in the film are the work of the author’s daughter, granddaughter of the protagonist of the tragic events pictured, Zuzanna Majer. Her work emphasizes the simplest, human aspect of the experience of tragedy and of how trauma affects relationships and social roles. The classical animations are the work of Tomasz Siwiński (also the author of the APFF promo!)
Director, Natalia Koryncka-Gruz about the film:
”It is not only a universal story about war, but also a very personal confession of a family trauma being passed on from generation to generation. This type of trauma - whether conscious or not - is something experienced by many families in Poland, as well as other parts of the world previously affected by the horrors of war. What happens to us in the present is deeply rooted in the past and affects many of our actions. Just as our bodies carry our ancestors genes, our minds inherit their stories. Timeless question about the origins of evil and human need for violence are being looked at from the perspective of three generations and, in the current geopolitical climate, they sound extremely relevant.”
53 WARS / 53 WOJNY
Saturday, Nov. 2, 4:00 pm
1h 23 min | Drama, Romance | 2018
Director: Ewa Bukowska
Screenplay: Ewa Bukowska
Cinematography: Tomasz Naumiuk
Music: Natalia Fiedorczuk-Cieślak
Cast: Magdalena Popławska, Michał Żurawski, Dorota Kolak, Kinga Preis, Krzysztof Stroiński, and others.
What does it mean to be a wife of a war reporter? – asks Ewa Bukowska in her first full length feature film. Her debut tells a story of two people deeply in love, trying to live normal lives in an abnormal situation created by one of them and enforced on the other. Anka and Witek at first both make a living as journalists/writers. Then, he gets assigned as a war reporter and spends most the time far away in war zones. She stays at home constantly watching the news and worrying sick about her husband’s safety. Although Anka tries to live a normal life, the the stress becomes unbearable; her world is falling apart.
The film is based on an autobiographical book by Grażyna Jagielska, “A heart made of stone”, about her own experience of being married to a famous Polish war correspondent, Wojciech Jagielski.
ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE / JESZCZE DZIEŃ ŻYCIA
Saturday, Nov. 2, 6:00 pm
1h 25 min | Animated Drama, Biography | 2018
Directors: Damian Nenow, Raúl de la Fuente
Screenplay: Raúl de la Fuente, Amaia Remírez,
Niall Johnson, David Weber, Damian Nenow
Cinematography: Gorka Gómez-Andreu (AEC), Raúl de la Fuente
Music: Mikel Salas
Cast: Olga Bołądź, Mirosław Haniszewski, Marcin Dorociński
Poland’s 2020 Oscar submission for the Animated Feature Film category.
Golden Eye nominee at Cannes Film Festival.
European Film Award for best European Animated Feature Film.
Goya Award for the Best Animated Film - Spanish Film Academy.
Grand Prix for the Best Animation - Anime Festival, Japan.
Award from the Governor of Tokyo.
Based on a book by legendary Polish war correspondent and writer, Ryszard Kapuściński, the films tells a story of a reporter’s suicidal journey across Angola when he is faced with situations and events that force him to reevaluate his approach to work and life. It is a dramatic account of the three months in 1975 Kapuściński spent in Angola at the beginning of its decades long civil war. Narrative animation helps visualize the past events and creates a surrealistic visions of war. Documentary scenes refer to something seemingly different from the animated plot but as a whole reveal the common denominator and complement the story in a very suggestive and emotional way.
From the directors, De La Fuente and Nenow:
« We were fascinated by the mystery of a man, who after seeing eight wars and facing a firing squad , insists on inserting himself into the midst of the angolean chaos and a no win situation - all that in Portuguese is called „confusão”. The trip to Angola changes Kapuściński – it turns him from a reporter into a writer. It is a very cinematic story. The genre of animation allowed us to build a completely new image, an escape into a metaphor, creating an image of a world falling apart. Only here and there, did we decide to include photographs that the Polish reporter brought back from Africa - suggestive and portraying the hell of the war there. »
PLAYING HARD / ZABAWA, ZABAWA
Saturday, Nov. 2, 8:00 pm
1h 28 min | Drama | 2019
Director: Kinga Dębska
Screenplay: Kinga Debska, Mika Dunin
Cinematography: Andrzej Wojciechowski
Music: Michal Novinski
Cast: Agata Kulesza, Maria Debska, Dorota Kolak, Marcin Dorocinski, Miroslaw Baka
Dorota, a great prosecutor in her forties, says she drinks “so she won’t go crazy”. Using her immunity and with the help of her husband, a well-known politician, she covers up the transgressions she commits “under the influence”. Magda, a successful grad student likes to party hard, but she gets good grades and holds down a good job. For Teresa, a well respected pediatric surgeon, any excuse to have a drink is a good one. She even drinks at work, at children’s hospital where she is a lead doctor. Each of these three women is threading on thin ice and it won’t take much for it to break. Will they be able to win with their personal demons? How about their families and friendships?
THE WALL OF MEXICO
Sunday, Nov. 3, 2:00 pm
1h 50min | Comedy, Drama | 2019
Directors: Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak
Screenplay: Zachary Cotler
Cinematography: Lyn Moncrief
Music: Zachary Cotler
Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Esai Morales, Marisol Sacramento,
Carmela Zumbado, Alex Meneses, Mariel Hemingway, Xander Berkeley
“Veteran actors Esai Morales and Mariel Hemingway join with some newcomers to spin a fantasy about rich Mexicans turning the tables on poor white people.” – is how Hollywood Reporter described a directing cooperation of a Polish-American duet: Magdalena Zyzak and Zachary Cotler. The plot of “The Wall of Mexico” centers around a Mexican family who decides to build a wall around their property to deter the intrusion of poor white people in the vicinity. The film escapes frames and categories. A well mastered juggling of genres and twists, great visuals with a fantastic character development – it is like nothing you have ever seen.
Director Olga Chajdas in attendance.
Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:15 pm
2 h 10min | Drama, Romance | 2018
Director: Olga Chajdas
Screenplay: Marta Konarzewska, Olga Chajdas
Cinematography: Tomasz Naumiuk
Music: Andrzej Smolik
Cast: Julia Kijowska, Eliza Rycembel, Andrzej Konopka,
Maria Peszek, Katarzyna Gniewkowska, and others.
2018 Carl International Film Festival’s Baltic Sea Competition - Best Director
2018 Rotterdam IFF – The Big Screen Award
After twenty years, Nina's marriage to Wojtek is going nowhere, partly because of their failed attempts to have children. They make a difficult decision to hire a surrogate but no one is good enough until they meet a young woman, Magda. They decide to propose that she become a surrogate mother for their child. But things get more complicated when Nina suddenly feels attracted to Magda. The energetic, apparently carefree Magda breaks open her world. It is a story about the unexpected love, about the ability to fill in the void, and about difficult choices.
DANCING FOR YOU / TAŃCZĘ DLA CIEBIE
Friday, Nov. 8, 7:00 pm
18 min | Documentary | 2018
Director: Katarzyna Lesisz
Screenplay: Katarzyna Lesisz
Cinematography: Sebastian Weber, Michał Dymek
2018 International Documentary Film Festival
Amsterdam (IDFA)—Best Film in Kids & Docs Competition
Every morning, 12-year-old Wiktor’s grandmother lovingly wakes him up. Once he’s had breakfast and gotten dressed, Wiktor is ready for an intense day at ballet school, where he and his classmates are rehearsing for an important performance. All the proud parents will be sitting in the front row, and while Wiktor’s kind grandmother will of course come, the young dancer is desperately hoping that his father, who lives abroad, will be there, too. Wiktor wants nothing more than to make his father proud.
DOLCE FINE GIORNATA / SŁODKI KONIEC DNIA
Friday, Nov. 8, 7:30 pm
1h 32min | Drama | 2019
Director: Jacek Borcuch
Screenplay: Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch
Cinematography: Michal Dymek
Music: Daniel Bloom
Cast: Krystyna Janda, Katarzyna Smutniak, Vincent Riotta,
Antonio Catania, Lorenzo de Moor, Robin Renucci, and others.
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for main actress, Krystyna Janda - Sundance 2019
World Cinema - Dramatic Grand Jury Prize nomination- for director Jacek Borcuch, Sundance 2019
Golden Lions nomination for director, Jacek Borcuch - Polish Film Festival, Gdynia 2019
Maria Linde, a free-spirited, Nobel Prize poet of Jewish-Polish descent, lives in Tuscany surrounded by warmth and chaos in her family’s villa. A loving mother and grandmother, she also fosters a secret flirtation with the much younger Egyptian man who runs a nearby seaside inn. After a terrorist attack in Rome, Maria refuses to succumb to the hysterical fear and anti-immigrant sentiment that quickly emerge, deciding in her acceptance speech of a local honor to boldly decry Europe’s eroding democracy—but she is unprepared for the public and personal havoc her comments wreak.
Dennis Harvey writes for Variety:
”Janda plays the kind of role almost invariably written for men (such as Jonathan Pryce in “The Wife,” to name one recent example): the laureled, arrogant, yet still insecure literary lion around whose whims family as well as fans orbit. Still imposingly cool if no longer slender in her Nico-like blonde wedge cut and sunglasses, Maria Linde is a child of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors who fled further oppression in her homeland years ago. She’s now long lived a comfortable life in the Tuscan hills with Italian husband Antonio (Antonio Catania), her single-mother daughter Anna (Kasia Smutniak), and her two grand kids.”
Director Jacek Borcuch says:
”Together with Szczepan Twardoch, we started to write the script still before the attack on „Charlie Hebdo”, the series of terrorist attacks in the South of France or Germany. We wanted to address these events, posing a question about the limits of freedom of expression in tense extreme situations, especially when it comes to artists, who bear the responsibility of being a moral authority . Is it OK for them to maintain silence in the time of crisis? And what are they to do when their opinions, instead of being an inspiration, are misinterpreted as hate?
I AM LYING NOW / JA TERAZ KŁAMIĘ
Friday, Nov. 8, 9:30 pm
1h 40 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller | 2019
Director: Paweł Borowski
Screenplay: Paweł Borowski
Cinematography: Arkadiusz Tomiak
Music: Adam Burzyński
Cast: Agata Buzek, Maja Ostaszewska, Rafał Maćkowiak,
Paulina Walendziak, Joanna Kulig, Robert Więckiewicz.
Metaphysical thriller showing a darker side of media takes place in a retro-futuristic world. The film’s characters get caught up in an intricate, murky intrigue in which nothing is as it seems, and a series of dramatic events leads to a completely surprising finale. With a fantastic cast, it’s bold, camp and weird, so definitely an Austin-type of production!
THE IRON BRIDGE / ŻELAZNY MOST
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2:00 pm
1 h 25 min | Drama | 2019
Director: Monika Jordan-Młodzianowska
Screenwriter: Monika Jordan-Młodzianowska
Cinematography: Piotr Kukla
Music: Andrey Dergachev
Cast: Julia Kijowska, Łukasz Simlat, Bartłomiej Topa,
Andrzej Konopka, Cezary Łukaszewicz, and others.
The Iron Bridge, a directorial debut, is a dramatic elegantly told story about three characters entangled in a love relationship. Kacper (Bartłomiej Topa), who works as a foreman in a coal mine, has an affair with the wife of his best friend Oskar (Łukasz Simlat), also a miner. Kacper assigns Oskar to work at the deep and dangerous coal seams so that he has more time for secret meetings with his lover (Julia Kijowska). One of their rendezvous is interrupted by a mine accident: Oskar has been buried in a caved-in drift. The lovers join the rescue operation, overwhelmed with guilt and the awareness that the man's drama indirectly results from their actions. The love they feel won't be of much help as too many questions and unmade decisions hang in the air. Unable to confront the missing friend and husband, the lovers are forced to look for the answers within themselves.
BACK HOME / POWRÓT
Director Magdalena Łazarkiewicz in attendance.
Saturday, Nov. 9, 4:00 pm
1 h 45 min | Drama | 2018
Director: Magdalena Łazarkiewicz
Screenplay: Magdalena Łazarkiewicz, Katarzyna Terechowicz
Cinematography: Wojciech Todorow
Music: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz
Cast: Sandra Drzymalska, Agnieszka Warchulska, Katarzyna Herman, Mirosław Kropielnicki, Tomasz Sobczak, Stanisław Cywka, Dawid Rostkowski, Bartosz Gelner, Ewa Jakubowicz, and others.
Ula, a young girl from a small town in Poland is kidnapped and taken to a brothel in Germany. Luckily she manages to escape and return home. Magdalena Łazarkiewicz drew from a real life story; showed an after-life of a young girl who fell victim to human trafficking. She escapes sex slavery but on her return home, instead of with comfort she meets with contempt from her family and her conservative hometown dominated by Catholic Church. Relentless and brutally moving.
CORPUS CHRISTI / BOŻE CIAŁO
Saturday, Nov. 9, 7 pm
1h 55min | Drama | 2019
Director: Jan Komasa
Screenplay: Mateusz Pacewicz
Cinematography: Piotr Sobociński jr.
Music: Evgueni & Sacha Galperine
Cast: Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna, Eliza Rycembel,
Barbara Kurzaj, Tomasz Ziętek, Łukasz Simlat, Leszek Lichota,
Zdzisław Wardejn, and others.
Poland’s 2020 Oscar submission for the Best International Feature Film category.
2019 Polish Film Festival - Best Feature Film (winner)
2019 Hamburg Film Festival - Critics Award (nominee)
2019 El Gouna International Film Festival - Silver Star (winner)
2019 Reykjavik International Film Festival - New Vision (winner)
2019 Stockholm Film Festival - Best Film (nominee)
2019 Venice Film Festival - Label Europa Cinemas - Best Film (winner)
When Daniel, a young man with a troubled past, arrives in a small-town Polish parish, he pulls off an unlikely feat, convincing the villagers that he’s a visiting priest. But not long after he’s welcomed by the community, he learns of a tragic accident whose repercussions have divided the town. Pursued by a dark secret from his own past, he urges the townspeople to search for forgiveness that can make their community whole again, even as his own future becomes clouded with uncertainty. This extremely original project touches upon taboo subjects in Poland and brings up the question of social divisions and the complex spirituality of young people.
Variety in an interview with director, Jan Komasa (September 1, 2019): [Full interview here]
V: What attracts the townspeople to Daniel on some level seems to be the sincerity of his belief, the way he speaks about God and faith in a very down-to-earth way. There’s something authentic that they’re responding to, in contrast to the more formal and ritualized faith offered by the church. Is that saying something about your own religious beliefs, or a crisis in faith you see in Poland, or the world around you?
JK: That’s the core of “Corpus Christi.” This movie is less about God and faith, but more about the craving of [people for] some sense in the world. I wanted to use my camera and film the moment in someone’s life when faith is necessary. I wanted to show where it comes from, and how it evolves, and how it encapsulates feelings — the sense of relief, redemption. It’s very human, in the sense that everyone has it. No matter if atheist or agnostic or believer.
WEREWOLF / WILKOŁAK
Saturday, Nov. 9, 9:30 pm
1h 28 min | Drama, Horror | 2019
Director: Adrian Panek
Screenplay: Adrian Panek
Cinematography: Dominik Danilczyk
Music: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz
Cast: Sonia Mietielica, Kamil Polnisiak, Danuta Stenka, Nicolas Przygoda
Best Picture nominee in Horror Features category, Austin Fantastic Fest 2018
Audience Award and Ecumenical Jury Prize at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival;
Best Director and Best Score at the Polish Film Festival
The action takes place in the summer of 1945 and centers around a group of eight children liberated from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. They find themselves, aimless and hungry, stranded in an abandoned mansion in the forest. Their caretaker is 20-old Hanka (a hypnotizing performance of Sonia Mierielica), herself a former inmate. In the aftermath of the camp and its atrocities, the children slowly attempt to gather up what’s left of their lost childhood, but the horror of the camp quickly catches up with them. In the surrounding forest wolfhounds are circling. The dogs were released by SS officers before the liberation of the camp. Wolfhounds - taught and used to kill prisoners - surrounded the children trapped now in the orphanage. All the attempts of escaping the place are failing. Children without any food and water turn into madness and wilderness once again. But the real danger lurks inside the palace.
Panek’s film is a pastiche of a period piece, horror film and dark fairy tale. One can see the inspiration drawn from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, filtered through Panek’s sensibility. The allegorical Werewolf is cinema of suspense and discomfort—it keeps the viewer perpetually on the edge of their seat. Following up on his impressive debut Daas, it’s further evidence of Adrian Panek as a fresh and exciting new voice in Polish cinema.
ROCK ‘N ROLL EDDIE / WŁADCY PRZYGÓD. STĄD DO OBLIVIO
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2:00 pm
1 h 41 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family | 2019
Director: Tomasz Szafrański
Screenwriter: Tomasz Szafrański
Cinematography: Michał Grabowski
Music: Fred Emory Smith
Cast: Weronika Kaczmarczyk, Szymon Radzimierski,
Kamila Bujalska, Alicja Dąbrowska, Maciej Makowski,
Mikołaj Grabowski, Łukasz Matecki, Janusz Andrzejewski, and others.
Best Music - Burbank International Film Festival, 2019
Best Director and Best Actress (Weronika Kaczmarczyk) - Cinefantasy International Fantastic Film Festival, São Paulo, Brazil, 2019
Children Jury Award - Professional Jury Honorable Mention - Kinolub Children and Youth Film Festival, Rzeszów, Poland, 2019
Two teenagers, Franek and Izka, punch a hole to another dimension and accidentally let in Rock’n’Roll Eddie – a fugitive from a mysterious realm of Oblivio hunted down by the ruthless Head-hunters. If the kids want to save him, they need to find a way to send Eddie back before the Head-hunters catch him and punish for escaping.
“Rock'n’Roll Eddie” is the first Polish film for children and teenagers in years made with such great momentum and originality.
Sunday, Nov. 10, 4:00 pm
25 min | Drama, History |2019
Director: Rami Kodeih
Screenplay: Nora Mariana
Cinematography: Matthew Plaxco
Cast: Alia Shawkat, Rebeca Robles, Dorota Puzio, Erika Soto, Jillian Federman, Sean Harmon, Edin Gali, Mark Mccullough, Weetus Cren, Daisy vernon-huhn.
As Nazis separate children from their parents in the Warsaw Ghetto, a gang of women risks everything to smuggle their friend's three-month-old baby to safety. Inspired by true events.
THE MESSENGER / KURIER
Sunday, Nov. 10, 5:00 pm
1 h 54 min | Action, Drama, History | 2019
Director: Władysław Pasikowski
Screenplay: Władysław Pasikowski, Sylwia Wilkos
Cinematography: Magdalena Górka
Music: Jan Duszyński
Cast: Patrycja Volny, Philippe Tłokiński, Julie Engelbrecht,
Tomasz Schuchardt, Adam Woronowicz, Mirosław Baka,
Zbigniew Zamachowski, Jan Frycz, Mariusz Bonaszewski,
Sławomir Orzechowski, Grzegorz Małecki
The latest motion picture by Władysław Pasikowski, the director of the hits „Jack Strong” and „Pitbull: Last Dog”, is a sensational spy movie inspired by the secret mission of a famous “messenger from Warsaw” - Jan Nowak- Jeziorański. His solitary mission was to be decisive in the fates of Poland and World War II. Tracked by all enemy intelligence, transferred from hotel Savoy to Żabno in the dead of night, he meets people who will change his life forever.
Director Władysław Pasikowski says:
“Our goal is to tell a spectacular story based on real life events that not even James Bond’s screenwriters could imagine. We want to tell this story in the most modern way possible, using the latest design ideas of action- adventure movies”
Producer and manager of the Warsaw Rising Museum, Jan Ołdakowski, points out that: „The Messenger” is not and was never meant to be a biopic and the main character, although based on a real person, is not a carbon copy of Jan Nowak- Jeziorański.” “Our movie is based on Nowak- Jeziorański’s mission”, he adds.
Actress, Patrycja Volny said that she actually has a huge debt of gratitude towards Jan Nowak- Jeziorański, because if it wasn’t for him, she probably would never have been born:
“My parents met in Radio Free Europe. They were both hired by him, the messenger of Warsaw. I knew a lot about him from my parents’ tales, but these were stories from the years after the war. I only learned the details of his service to the country during WWII while making the movie”.