Grand Off Gala 2009
“I am proud to be welcomed into the group of independent filmmakers. Thank you! Marcel Łoziński” – as he was unable to attend, it was with this SMS that Marcel Łoziński, winner of the first Grand Off Lifetime Achievement Award, thanked his peers for the recognition. The message was read by Mikołaj Łoziński, who accepted the award for his father.
In a statement regarding this decision, the jury wrote: “When thinking about selecting the first recipient of this award, there was no doubt in our minds that it must be someone unique enough to serve as a beacon, lighting the way for other independent filmmakers. This award is our way of thanking Mr. Łoziński for his beautiful documentaries – seemingly simple, yet touching upon the most vital of issues.”
It was stressed that Łoziński’s award was also a result of his independent thinking and nonconformism, “intriguingly taught to us in his films Próba mikrofonu, Jak żyć and Happy End, among others“. The award was presented by the Festival Director and president of the Cinema Art Foundation, Witold Kon.
The closing ceremony of the three-day celebration of international off cinema was held at Kamienica theatre, filled to capacity.
This year’s edition of Grand Off followed a new format. The popularity of the category “Best Non-European Film”, introduced in 2008, motivated the festival’s organizers to give up geographical distinctions. As a result, almost 740 films from over 60 countries were submitted. Another novelty is the presentation of selected films to a wider audience. Apart from screenings in Warsaw’s Luna cinema, all awarded films will be shown in over 20 cities throughout Poland.
The Grand Off Awards were handed out in a total of nine categories. Two awards (Best Actress and Best Actor) went to Danuta Stenka and Paul Merkle, the lead actors in the Polish-German co-production entitled Janek and directed by Piotr Lewandowski. As Stenka was abroad and thus unable to attend the ceremony, Lucyna Kobierzycka accepted her award for her. The young actor Merkle thanked his director and admitted that he received this award for his first role ever.
The award for Best Director went to Juanita Wilson (Ireland) for her film The Door.
Connor Clements (Northern Ireland) received the award for Best Screenplay for James.
The award for Best Photography went to Javier Agirre (Spain), director of photography of the documentary Asämara.
The winner of the Best Editing award was Tanja Petry (Germany) for Summer Sunday.
The winner of the Best Fiction award was the Australian film The Ground Beneath, directed by Rene Hernandez. The award was accepted by Paul Sanda, Counsellor of the Australian Embassy in Poland.
The winner of the Best Documentary award was the Russian film Nyarma, directed by Edgar Bartenev. The award was accepted by the film’s producer, Victoria Ruban.
The winner of the Best Animation award was El Empleo by Santiago „Bou” Graso from Argentina. The film got great reactions from the audience at the theatre. When accepting the award, Claudio Di Gregorio, the chargé d’affaires of the Argentinian Embassy in Poland said “I think Santiago should be here today.”
Besides El Empleo, the Grand Off gala guests also had the opportunity to see two other awarded pictures: James and Asämara.
For more information about the festival, please visit www.grandoff.eu.
The Polish Film Institute co-financed Grand Off – the World Off Film Awards.
Translated by Karolina Kołtun