Young and old, post and presocialist, cosmopolitan and provincial, pan-European and concertedly national – these are some of the divisions between the muchdiscussed two Polands. “It’s too simple, but it’s also true,” said a young man in a Warsaw club, who spoke of his trip to Cairo where he and his friends began talking in English when they saw older Polish people, preferring to speak with foreigners rather than their countrymen. “We feel we are European.”

The outlooks of the two Polands permeate the programming, professional organizations, audience responses, and even awards at two proximate documentary festivals: the 7th annual Planete Doc Review in Warsaw in May and the 50th Krakow International Film Festival in June. Founder and director of Planete Doc , Artur Liebhart aims to “cultivate documentary culture,” and make the films “a source of widening horizons,” in contrast to screening them for distribution deals.1)Quotes from Artur Liebhart come from personal interviews and emails with the author between 2009 and 2010. Unless otherwise noted, all other quotes come from personal interviews at Planete Doc and Krakow in May-June 2010. While his Warsaw event focuses on bringing acclaimed foreign documentaries to Polish audiences, the Krakow Festival concentrates on promoting Polish documentaries, plus shorts and animated movies, abroad. According to director Krzysztof Gierat. Krakow’s documentary competition and market stem from its roots as “a window to the world for Polish artists, and for the Polish audience primarily an oasis of freedom.”

The Cove Hunt In Japan

Film critics take pleasure in heralding new waves, as in the case of current Polish fiction films. 2)See Dan Bilefsky, “Polish Film’s Amoral New Wave,” published June 14, 2010 in the New York Times: www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/arts/15iht-reverse.html_r=1&pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss But if the differences between the two documentary events appear stark at first, the experience of each festival shows how the two Polands – the nationalistic and internationalistic – simultaneously co-exist. Similar breaks and overlaps appear throughout post-socialist Europe. Yet Poland’s concern with its national identity makes differences of definition particularly visible in documentary’s reflections of reality:

For example, Liebhart’s conservative programming at Planete Doc festival is combined with savvy promotion through his company Against Gravity. During May, housed in the monolithic but multifarious Palace of Culture, the festival screens the most recognized documentaries of the past year, such as the Oscar-winning but overblown The Cove, as well as the lyrical and incisive A Blooming Business [see box]. Films are selected primarily for their disclosing of global issues. Yet its releases are creatively timed to Polish media events, and its festival selections are dynamically propagated through new media, as in an updated version of the communist-era “Houses of Culture.” The company’s collection of Indian documentaries came out with the DVD distribution by another firm of Slumdog Millionaire, and its set on China with the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The festival’s over 37,500 spectators via its Video-On-Demand service equalled its numbers in theatres. While in three days, its “Weekend with Digital” screened six films in twenty cinemas simultaneously outside of Warsaw. The coordination is conducive to the debates between audiences in the capital with other cities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRD8e20fBo

At the Krakow festivals it is fast revealed that both mindsets are at work: one presiding at the Polish Filmmakers’ Association, and another at a panel on Polish documentary at the training session Virtually Yours! The mindset is not determined by age, as producer Krzysztof Kopczyński of Eureka Media both presented the report on documentary at the Association, and also gave the panel’s keynote.

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References   [ + ]

1. Quotes from Artur Liebhart come from personal interviews and emails with the author between 2009 and 2010. Unless otherwise noted, all other quotes come from personal interviews at Planete Doc and Krakow in May-June 2010.
2. See Dan Bilefsky, “Polish Film’s Amoral New Wave,” published June 14, 2010 in the New York Times: www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/arts/15iht-reverse.html_r=1&pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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