55th Krakow Film Festival

55th Krakow Film Festival, Poland (May 31 - June 7, 2015)

The Krakow Film Festival is not only the oldest film festival in Poland, organized every year since 1961, but also one of the oldest film events dedicated to documentary, animated and short fiction films in Europe. The festival tends to favour documentary films, and it was in this festival that outstanding Polish documentarists such as Krzysztof Kieslowski, Wojciech Wiszniewski, and Marcel Lozinski began their career.

The documentary program in this year's 55th edition of the festival was especially strong, and included twenty films, all evolving around the subject of otherness, and each conceiving it in different ways. The opening film of the festival, for example, was The Dybbuk: A Tale of Wandering Souls, directed by Krzysztof Kopczynski. This documentary takes place in Uman, a sacred city for Jews in the Ukraine, and shows the tensions that appear between thousands of Hasidic pilgrims who come there every year to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and the city locals. Other films in the competition focused on topics such as disability, loneliness, and intolerance. The biggest winner was the Polish filmmaker Karolina Bielawska, who received the Golden Horn and three other awards for her documentary Call Me Marianna, an extremely sensitive and intense portrayal of gender transformation. The Silver Horn in the best feature-length documentary was granted to another Polish filmmaker, Agnieszka Zwiefka, for The Queen of Silence, an inspiring story of a deaf gypsy girl in Poland who bravely transcendes her disability by retreating to Bollywood music and dance in her imagination. The FIPRESCI jury decided to grant the prize to Erinnisse and Patryk Rebisz's American documentary Shoulder The Lion, which expresses in different innovative ways the subjective experience of characters who lost essential parts of their being in cataclysmic events.

The Dragon of Dragons, an international life-achievement award that was given in previous years to masters such as Jan Svankmajer, Werner Herzog or Albert Maysles, went this year to the Estonian animator Priit Pärn. An award-winning illustrator, filmmaker and lecturer, Pärn is a well-known figure in animation with a unique and outstanding visual style. His films often combine black humor, surrealism and controversial sex politics, and deal with difficult political and social issues in times of Communism. The festival included a thorough retrospective of his work along with a master class he conducted, providing a rare glimpse into this important figure in animation history. 

After acquainting the audience with the national cinemas of Israel, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Great Britain in previous years, the focus this year moved east to Lithuania, whose small but fascinating cinema has just began to revive. Both documentary and short films from Lithuania have been shown, including Giedre Žickyte's wonderful Master and Tatyana, which was one of the highlights of the documentary competition as well. The film screenings were complemented by an industry conference, in which representatives of the Lithuanian film industry participated. 

The festival also took advantage of the warm weather during the early summer nights and organized another edition of the annual program Sounds of Music in the open-air cinema Kino Pod Wawelem. This non-competing section, curated by Piotr Metz, included some of the best music films of all time, such as Miloš Forman's Hair, Wim Wenders's Buena Vista Social Club or Alan Parker's The Wall, all shown with no admission cost and with the pastoral Wawel Castle in the background. (Ohad Landesman)

Krakow Film Festival: www.kff.com.pl

FIPRESCI PRIZE

Shoulder the Lion Shoulder the Lion Shoulder the Lion
(USA, France, Ireland, 2015, Documentary, 75 mins) Jury: Ulrich Wimmeroth (Germany) , Ohad Landesman (Israel) , Maarek Hendrykowski (Poland)
International Sales: Tupelo Productions

Zeb Newman
New York - Los Angeles - World
T: (347) 889-5938
e-mail: info@tupeloproductions.com
web: www.tupeloproductions.com

Motivation, Krakow Film Festival 2015:
"For its unique and innovative cinematic expression that presents in different ways the subjective experience of characters who lost essential parts of their being in cataclysmic events."

Lost Senses

by Ulrich Wimmeroth

Ulrich Wimmeroth commends Shoulder the Lion as being exemplary of an outstanding documentary because it not only champions the spirit of challenged people but also conveys their lost senses or abilities through the use of strong symbolic visualisations to enhance the verbal accounts.  read more

Expanding the Documentary Form

by Ohad Landesman

There were three very different but outstanding feature documentaries that caught the attention and praise of Ohad Landesman: Master and Tatyana comes from a rejuvenated Lithuania; an excellent visual essay from Russia called Battles; and finally the inventive The Queen of Silence from Poland.  read more

Documentary Film Versus TV Standard

by Maarek Hendrykowski

Theme still rules supreme in the documentary form according to Marek Hendrykowski who believes that contemporay makers have plenty to learn from the old masters, like those exemplary in the retrospective section. Meanwhile, the Dragon of Dragons Lifetime Achievement award went this year to Estonian animator Priit Pärt. read more