61st Berlin IFF

The 61st edition of the annual Berlin International Film Festival is now under way. Five Polish films will be presented to Berlinale audiences throughout the festival’s ten days of screenings.


Świteź (The Lost Town of Świteź) by Kamil Polak is the sole Polish film in the lineup of the Berlinale Shorts competition. Świteź, a film adaptation of the romantic era ballad by Adam Mickiewicz, is a 20-minute long animated film, combining digital 3D with CG animation and classic animation based on traditional painting techniques. The film’s development process, from idea to finished project, lasted seven years.


The Berlinale Shorts competition has been organized annually since 1955. This year’s edition will screen 25 films from 21 countries, judged by an international jury: American photographer and director Nan Goldin; Israeli director and head of the Sam Spiegel Film School Renen Schorr, and Tunisian director and producer Ibrahim Letaief. The 25 selected projects will compete for the Golden and Silver Bear awards, as well as the European Film Academy award and DAAD scholarship.


One of the sixteen films screening in Main Competition is a Polish co-production. El Premio (The Prize) is the feature debut from Paula Markovitch, made as a co-production between Mexico, France, Poland, and Germany. Wojciech Staroń is El Premio‘s director of photography, while the Polish co-producer is Małgorzata Staroń (Staroń Film). The film was co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. Argentine-born Paula Markovitch is an acclaimed screenwriter. She authored the script for Lake Tahoe (2008), which screened in Polish cinemas. Set in 1970s Argentina under junta rule, El Premio is a semi-autobiographical intimate story, based on the director’s personal experience.  


February 12 will bring the Berlinale screening and international premiere of Sala samobójców (Suicide Room), the feature debut from writer/director Jan Komasa, who previously co-directed the acclaimed Oda do radości (Ode to Joy). The film was produced by Kadr Film Studio, Poland’s oldest production company, which, after a 14-year-long hiatus, recently returned to the Polish market with the successful Rewers (Reverse).


Suicide Room is the second major production of the revamped Kadr. Almost 6,000 films from around the world are submitted for Berlinale consideration each year. The film will screen in the Panorama Special section – a selection of about 16 films that exhibit high distribution potential. After screening at the Berlin Film Festival, many of these films go on to have wide theatrical distribution in various countries. Several juries award their prizes to films screening in the Berlin Panorama, including the FIPRESCI Jury, the Ecumenical Jury, Amnesty International, and the Label Europa Cinema award. Films screening in Panorama also compete for the special prize for best debut, awarded by a three-member jury, and for the audience award.


The Generation competition lineup includes Jutro będzie lepiej (Tomorrow Will Be Better) by Dorota Kędzierzawska. Films in this section will be judged by a children’s jury. The Polish feature will be competing against 58 other titles from 29 countries. Kędzierzawska received the Kinderfilmfest Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Berlinale for her feature Jestem (I Am).


Berlinale’s Forum section features Made in Poland, the latest film by Przemysław Wojcieszek. The Berlin screening will mark the film’s international premiere. The Forum lineup includes a total of 39 films. Przemysław Wojcieszek will also take part in the February 17 “Covering Cinema: Critics Meet Filmmakers” event at the Berlinale Talent Campus. Forum features a number of talks by artists from the world of visual arts and film, among them Polish artist Artur Żmijewski.


One of the projects presented at this year’s Berlinale Co-Production Market is Gli Italiani (Italians), the latest feature from Łukasz Barczyk. The Talent Project Market includes a project called The Here After by producer Mariusz Włodarski and director Magnus von Horn, who studied at the National Film School in Łódź and directed the highly acclaimed short feature Echo.


Over 6,000 films from around the world are submitted each year for Berlinale consideration. Polish films screening at the Berlin International Film Festival in recent years include Tatarak (Sweet Rush) by Andrzej Wajda (winner of the Alfred Bauer Award), Komornik (The Collector) by Feliks Falk (winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize), and Doskonałe popołudnie (Perfect Afternoon) by Przemysław Wojcieszek. In 2006, Andrzej Wajda received the Berlin Golden Bear Award for lifetime achievement.


Translated by Karolina Kołtun