The Director of the Krakow Film Festival speaks about the current status of documentary films and what to watch in 2018.

Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: March 5, 2018

What is the focus of this year’s edition? Do you have a theme for the films selected in this year’s festival?

Krakow Film Festival is not structured around major themes. We are more interested in people and their issues. We are interested in contemporary issues, but instead of following popular trends, we let filmmakers and their interests determine our focus each year. In general, we look for original films, powerful stories and unconventional protagonists.

So what should we look for in this year’s edition?

Krzysztof Gierat

We focus on a country each year, and the country we chose in this edition is Estonia. Besides the four main competition sections we have a variety of non-competitive ones, such as Docs+Science, Sound of Music and Somewhere in Europe.

Each year we also host a retrospective of the Dragon of Dragons Award Winner – an award that is given for one’s contribution to the development of international cinema. This year we present Sergei Loznitsa’s work in this retrospective section, as he is important to us and won several awards at our festival.

Could you describe the festival in a few keywords that would depict what the festival is and what it means to you?

What the festival means to me is first of all the joy of sharing films. Second, it means pleasure to host many different guests in Krakow every year. And last, it means the satisfaction of introducing young audiences to the film world, while also supporting young filmmakers and following them in their career.

What does the term ‘movie that matters’ mean to you?

I think most importantly a ‘movie that matter’ is a film that touches me because of the unique way it tells its story, for example by consciously using means of expression and by telling the protagonists’ story in a way that I can identify and empathize with. A ‘movie that matter’ is a movie that stays with me for a long time after watching it.

In your opinion, which three documentary films should everyone see and why?

This is a very difficult question. I don’t make any rankings so I could have a different answer every day. I would now choose Communion by Anna Zamecka – an unusual family portrait where a teenager girl is taking over the role of an absent mother. It is a very touching, honest and visually stunning film. My second choice is Blockade by Sergei Loznitsa, a found footage film with a meticulously reconstructed soundtrack, which is a chronicle of a dying Leningrad during the siege. This is a film that started its international circuit at Krakow Film Festival. My last choice is Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen, one of the winners in the DocFilmMusic competition, which proves that biographical films can be both artistic and very precise and nuanced.

Communion by Anna Zamecka

What is the standing of documentary films, compared to ten years ago, and also regarding your festival? 

I know this answer might be a cliché, but we are experiencing an eruption in documentary filmmaking. Documentaries are more and more present at major feature film festivals and after that they make their way into cinemas. The public is more and more interested in documentaries and the true stories they tell. At Krakow Film Festival, short films dominated the festival for years, but these days documentaries are becoming its trademark.

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