This year marked the 12th edition of the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival, which took place in Wroclaw, Poland (19-29 July, 2012). The festival hosts four competitive sections: the New Horizons International Competition (contemporary features), the Films on Art International Competition (documentaries), and Polish and European short film competitions. This year's Grand Prix of €20,000 went to Chilean feature Thursday Till Sunday (De jueves a domingo) directed by Dominga Sotomayor Castillo. The winner in the Films on Art category was The Punk Syndrome (Kovasikajuttu): Finnish directing team Jukka Kärkkäinen and Jani-Petteri Passi received €10,000. The FIPRESCI jury gave their prize to Brazilian feature Neighbouring Sounds (O som ao redor, dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho) and the Audience Award went to French film Donoma by Djinn Carrénard. The winners of the Grand Prix, Films on Art competition, FIPRESCI prize and Audience Award are all guaranteed Polish distribution.
Alongside its competition sections, New Horizons offers a vast selection of films designed to appeal to a diverse public: this year, the festival screened 469 films from 52 different countries, and drew a total audience of 108,000. One highlight of this year's non-competitive sections was 'mockumentaries': fake and funny documentaries, past and present, from all over the world. Another section, the fourth in a series examining different elements of film production, looked at the importance of sound in cinema. Inspired by the Mayan calendar's prediction that the world will end in 2012, 'The Happy End' presented of films about the apocalypse; this programme was accompanied by city-wide art exhibitions and activities on the same theme. The festival offered an ample and appealing retrospective section, looking back at the careers of several notable directors including Dušan Makavejev, Witold Giersz, Ulrich Seidl and Carlos Reygadas.
One of the festival's special events, 'A Sunday in the Country', invited a small group of young European critics to participate in a series of weekend workshops with members of the European Film Academy, discussing the future of professional film criticism.
New Horizons excels particularly in reaching out to local audiences. Every other evening, prominent directors attended two-hour Q&A sessions with press and public at the open-air Gazeta Café. Every night of the festival, a different film was projected on a giant outdoor screen in the city's spacious Market Square: standing or sitting, dining at an adjacent café or leaning from the windows of their apartments, the public was captivated by the images that animated Wroclaw's gentle summer evenings. After the screenings, audiences could carry on into the night with concerts at the historic City Arsenal, starring sought-after acts such as Peaches and CocoRosie. (Alison Frank)
T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival: www.nowehoryzonty.pl