Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family), a film directed by Jan P. Matuszyński and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, will screen in Main Competition at the 69th Locarno International Film Festival. Polish films are also featured in the Film Critics’ Week competition lineup.

Polish Film in Main Competition

Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family). Photo by Hubert Komerski

Jan P. Matuszyński’s Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family) tells the story of the Beksiński family, beginning in 1977 when Tomek Beksiński moves out of the family home into his own flat. His parents live next door, in the same area, which is why they remain close. Tomek’s oversensitive personality results in his mother Zofia constantly worrying about him. At the same time his father Zdzisław Beksiński tries to dedicate himself to his art. After Tomek’s first suicide attempt, Zdzisław and Zofia must fight not only for their son, but also to regain control over their lives. When Zdzisław signs a contract with Piotr Dmochowski, an arts dealer based in France, and Tomek starts a job at the Polish Radio, it seems that the worst is behind them. But the series of strange and fateful events is just beginning.

„The Last Family”. Interview with the creators. Transcription (.rtf file)

Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family) was written by Robert Bolesto and lensed by Kacper Fertacz. The film stars Andrzej Seweryn as Zdzisław Beksiński), Dawid Ogrodnik as Tomasz Beksiński, and Aleksandra Konieczna as Zofia Beksińska.

Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family) was produced by Aurum Film, co-produced by HBO Polska, Lightcraft and the Mazovia Film Fund, and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. The film’s Polish premiere is set for September 30, with distribution handled by Kino Świat.

Locarno’s 17 Main Competition entries will be judged by jury members Arturo Ripstein, Kate Moran, Rafi Pitts, Rodrigo Teixeira, and Wang Bing.

The complete competition lineup is available on the Locarno Film Festival website.

Film Critics’ Week: Two Polish Films

Locarno’s Film Critics’ Week (La Semaine de la Critique) competition has a lineup of seven films from around the world, including two documentaries co-financed by the Polish Film Institute: Mnich z morza (Monk from the Sea) by Rafał Skalski and Komunia by Anna Zamecka. The last two editions of this competition both brought top laurels for Polish films. In 2014, the winner of this section was 15 stron świata (15 Corners of the World), a music documentary about Eugeniusz Rudnik, directed by Zuzanna Solakiewicz. In 2015, the winning film was Wojciech Staroń’s Bracia (Brothers).

The complete Film Critics’ Week lineup is available on the Locarno Film Festival website.

Mnich z morza (Monk of the Sea)

Mnich z morza (Monk of the Sea). Press materials

Mnich z morza (Monk of the Sea) is the story of Ball, a 30-year-old Thai man who’s just living life, tempted by the attractions of nighttime Bangkok: parties, friends, booze. But ancient tradition requires young men to become Buddhist monks for a period of time, in order to prove their maturity and face the austere rules of Buddhism. In a quaint seaside monastery, Ball will spend two weeks under the spiritual guidance of the local monks.

Rafał Skalski is a graduate of the Directing Department at the Łódź Film School. His documentary debut 52 procent (52 Percent; 2007) received the Golden Hobby-Horse award at the 47th Krakow Film Festival, and screened at dozens of festivals internationally. Skalski went on to make the documentary short Dziewczyny (2009), the mid-length documentary Kochankowie (2010), the 30-minute feature Zagraj ze mną (2010), and the comic book documentary Zdzisław Pacak, as part of the Portrety wojenne series (2014). He is currently working on his latest documentary film Nurt, which he is developing together with director Greg Zgliński.

Mnich z morza (Monk of the Sea) was lensed by Filip Drożdż and edited by Filip Drzewiecki. The film was scored by Kuba Ziołek, winner of the 2016 Paszport Polityki. The sound mix was done by Franciszek Kozłowski of Ucho Studio.

The film was produced by Centrala, in co-production with Mosquito Films – Konrad Jakubowski and Indi Film. Mnich z morza (Monk of the Sea) was also co-financed by the Polish Film Institute and crowdfunded through Polak Potrafi.


Komunia. Photo courtesy of Otter Films

14-year-old Ola had to grow up when her mother moved out. Ola had to take care of the house and her brother who believes that he is a chimpanzee and will one day grow a fur and claws. Ola wants her autistic brother to be a “normal boy” and have his First Communion, much like other children. She wants him to have a family dinner and presents. But more than anything, the communion celebration is for Ola an opportunity to see her estranged mother, for which she has longed. Mum has promised to come.

Anna Zamecka graduated in cultural anthropology and journalism from the University of Warsaw. She studied at the Film & Media Department of the University of Copenhagen. She graduated in a number of courses and programmes for filmmakers. Komunia marks her feature documentary debut. The film is produced by Otter Films, and co-produced by HBO Polska, Wajda Studio and MX35. The film was lensed by Małgorzata Szyłak.

Further details are available at: www.semainedelacritique.ch.

Słońce, to Słońce mnie oślepiło (The Sun, the Sun Blinded Me) in Signs of Life section

Słońce, to Słońce mnie oślepiło (The Sun, the Sun Blinded Me). Photo by Wilhelm Sasnal

One of eight films to screen in Locarno’s prestigious Signs of Life section is Słońce, to Słońce mnie oślepiło (The Sun, the Sun Blinded Me), the latest film by Anna Sasnal and Wilhelm Sasnal, starring Rafał Maćkowiak. The film was inspired by Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger.

The film’s protagonist Rafał Mularz is a stranger by choice. He doesn’t follow the widely accepted rules. His alienation is a life choice, an escape from fears, desires, dreams, and ambitions. One day, he meets a dark-skinned man who is even stranger than Rafał himself. The film paints a portrait not only of the main character, but also of contemporary society.

Made as a Polish-Swiss co-production, the film was produced by Wilhelm Sasnal and the Hauser & Wirth Zürich Gallery.

The Signs of Life section aims to explore film’s frontier territories, engaging with new forms of narration and innovation in filmic language.

The complete Signs of Life lineup is available on the Locarno Film Festival website.

First Look

This year’s First Look, Locarno’s special section for works-in-progress showcasing films currently in post-production, will be dedicated to Polish cinema. Jury members Cameron Bailey (artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival), Bero Beyer (director of the Rotterdam International Film Festival) and Kerem Ayan (artistic director of the Istanbul International Film Festival) will select the winning project, awarding the First Look award, aimed at supporting the winning filmmakers in completing post-production. 

The winner will receive an award worth 65,000 euros in post-production services, sponsored by Cinelab Romania, as well as an award worth 5,500 euros in advertising, donated by Le Film Français. The producers will also access a special matchmaking service provided by First Look Project Manager, Markus Duffner.

The selected films are:

  • 13 Summer Under The Water by Wiktoria Szymańska, produced by Wiktoria Szymańska, Izabela Igel (Luna W) and Edher Campos (Machete Producciones)
  • Birds Are Singing in Kigali (Ptaki śpiewają w Kigali) by Joanna Kos-Krauze & Krzysztof Krauze, produced by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Aleksandra Bielska (KosFilm)
  • The Butler (Kamerdyner) by Filip Bajon, produced by Olga Bieniek and Mirosław Piepka (Film Icon)
  • Day of Chocolate (Dzień czekolady) by Jacek Piotr Bławut, produced by Anna Bławut-Mazurkiewicz (Aura Films)
  • I’m a Killer (Jestem mordercą) by Maciej Pieprzyca, produced by Renata Czarnkowska-Listoś and Maria Gołoś (Re Studio)
  • Zgoda by Maciej Sobieszczański, produced by Zbigniew Domagalski and Monika Błachnio (Studio Filmowe Kalejdoskop)

This year the partners of First Look are the Polish Film Institute and the Polish Audiovisual Centre Foundation. 

Further details about the First Look are available on the Locarno Film Festival website.

Magdalena Szwarcbart nominated for an European Casting Director Award

This year Locarno International Film Festival launches the first European Casting Director Award, in partnership with the International Casting Directors Network (ICDN). Among the seven nominees is Polish casting director Magdalena Szwarcbart – Pod Mocnym Aniołem (The Mighty Angel) by Wojciech Smarzowski (2014).

The list of nominees is available on the Locarno Film Festival website. 

Marta Sikorska, Paulina Bez