Polish Films Awarded at 48th Karlovy Vary IFF

Papusza (photo by K. Ptak, W. Staroń) / Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) (photo by Alter Ego Pictures)
Papusza (photo by K. Ptak, W. Staroń) / Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) (photo by Alter Ego Pictures)


The 48th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has drawn to a close. Two Polish films received awards at the closing gala of this year’s edition of the festival. Papusza by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze received Special Mention of the Main Competition Jury, while Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) by Tomasz Wasilewski received the Crystal Globe for Best Film in the East of the West competition.


Papusza Receives Special Mention of the Jury

Among the 14 competition titles in the running for the Crystal Globe Award, jury members Agnieszka Holland (head of the jury), Ivo Andrle, Claudia Llosa, Sigurjon ‘Joni’ Sighvatsson, Meenakshi Shedde, Frédéric Boyer, and Alon Garbuz gave Special Mention to the Polish film Papusza. The winner of the Main Competition was a Hungarian production entitled Le grand cahier, directed by János Szász.

Award for a Film Co-Financed by the Polish Film Institute


The latest films by filmmakers whose previous film Mój Nikifor (My Nikifor) was a success at the Karlovy Vary festival in 2005 (Crystal Globe Grand Prize, Best Director Award, Best Actress Award for Krystyna Feldman), is a drama based on the true story of Papusza, the first Romani poet to write down her poems and the first to have her works translated into Polish and officially published. Her works enriched Polish culture with insight into the Gypsy ‘soul’. Papusza stars Jowita Budnik (as Papusza) and Antoni Pawlicki (as Jerzy Ficowski). The film was lensed by Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staroń, scored by Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz, and produced by Lambros Ziotas (Argomedia Sp. z o.o.).

A Joint Effort by Acclaimed Artists

The world premiere of Papusza was held in Karlovy Vary on July 1. Earlier that day, the filmmakers met with journalists at the film’s press conference. Director Joanna Kos-Krauze emphasized a significant duality: the film had two directors, two DPs, while Papusza herself had two men in her life. At the press conference, journalists praised the excellent result of artistic cooperation of the film’s two cinematographers, Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staroń. “The final outcome is incredibly cogent. I have never seen the Romani community depicted in such a credible way in film,” said one of the journalists present at the press conference. Joanna Kos-Krauze discussed how Papusza was a joint effort among a number of acclaimed artists, and noted that “the final image is somewhat balanced, because creative differences were bound to arise among such a large number of creative individuals.”

An Exceptional Work

Polish and international critics alike had a cornucopia of words of praise for Papusza, including such that it is ‘a model bio-pic’. “After the screening, it took me a while to compose myself. Papusza is an extraordinary work, a story that steals into our subconscious mind, pulling us in entirely; this film does not allow to pass easy judgment,” wrote Barbara Hollender for Rzeczpospolita. Audiences also praised cinematography by Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staroń: “Krzysztof Ptak (who worked with the Krauzes on My Nikifor) and Wojciech Staroń provide some of the most spectacular black and white camera work in recent years,” wrote Dan Fainaru in his review of Papusza for Screen Daily. “This film is built on the perfectly sculpted, painting-like black and white cinematography. It is a type of visual mosaic, consisting of small and precisely measured cubes, like a part of a symphony attempting to recreate the rhythm of the works of this poet, who wrote painful verse about the difficult life conditions and about the wounds of the Romani people suffered under various regimes, particularly the Nazis,” wrote Umberto Rossi for Ogginotizie.it.


The Polish premiere of Papusza by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze is scheduled for the last quarter of 2013. Distribution in Poland is handled by Next Film.

Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) Wins Top Award in East of the West Competition


The ‘East of the West’ competition focused on films by first-time and second-time directors from Central and Eastern Europe. Jury members Éva Vezér (head of the jury), Peter Paul Huth, Maja Miloš, Piotr Mularuk, and Sergej Stanojkovski, selected a Polish feature co-financed by the Polish Film Institute as the winning film: Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers), directed by Tomasz Wasilewski [his debut feature W sypialni (In a Bedroom) screened at Karlovy Vary last year in the Forum of Independents, while Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) had its world premiere at the Tribeca IFF in New York City].

A Contemporary Story

Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers), Wasilewski’s second feature, is a contemporary universal coming-of-age story about the search for one’s identity and about acceptance for one’s own character and for others. The film’s protagonist Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk) is a young man who lives with his mother (Katarzyna Herman) and his girlfriend Sylwia (Marta Nieradkiewicz). On the surface, Kuba’s life seems organized and stable. He loves his girlfriend, he studies at the local physical education college, and is considered to be one of the top contenders in the upcoming swimming competition. One night at a party, he meets Michał (Bartosz Gelner). A strong emotional bond forms between the two men. Kuba suddenly finds himself fascinated with another man. Terrified of his emotions, Kuba cannot find his place in these new circumstances.


The Polish premiere of Tomasz Wasilewski’s Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers) will take place on July 22 at the 13th T-Mobile New Horizons IFF, where the film will screen in the International New Horizons Competition.

Polish Films Awarded in Karlovy Vary

Previous editions of the Karlovy Vary film festival brought several awards for Polish films co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. In 2009, Filip Garbacz received Special Mention of the Jury for his performance in Świnki (Piggies) by Robert Gliński. In 2010, Mateusz Kościukiewicz and Filip Garbacz shared the Best Actor award for their performances in Paweł Sala’s Matka Teresa od kotów (Mother Teresa of Cats). In 2011, the grand prize in the Documentary Film Competition went to Deklaracja nieśmiertelności (Declaration of Immortality) by Marcin Koszałka. And in 2012, the winner of the Best Actor award was Polish actor Eryk Lubos for his performance in Zabić bobra (To Kill a Beaver) by Jan Jakub Kolski.

48th Karlovy Vary IFF Award Winners:
Main Competition

  • Grand Prix – Crystal Globe – Le grand cahier, directed by János Szász
  • Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema – Oliver Stone, John Travolta, Theodor Pištěk
  • Special Jury Prize – A Field in England, directed by Ben Wheatley
  • Best Director Award – Jan Hřebejk for the film Honeymoon
  • Best Actress Award – Amy Morton, Louisa Krause, Emily Meade, Margo Martindale for their roles in Bluebird
  • Best Actor Award – Ólafur Darri Ólafsson for his role in XL
  • Special Mention – Papusza, directed by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze

East of the West Competition

  • East of the West Award – Płynące wieżowce (Floating Skyscrapers), directed by Tomasz Wasilewski
  • Special Mention – Miracle, directed by Juraj Lehotský

Audience Award: Revival, directed by Alice Nellis


Independent Camera Award: Things the Way They Are, directed by Fernando Lavanderos

Documentary Film Competition

  • Grand Prize – Pipeline, directed by Vitaly Manskiy
  • Best Documentary Film Under 30 Minutes – Beach Boy, directed by Emil Langballe
  • Special Mention – The Manor, directed by Shawney Cohen

Marta Sikorska, Paulina Bez


Translated by Karolina Kołtun