Polish Films Awarded in Houston
This year marked the 43rd edition of the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival (April 9-18). The Platinum Remi Award went to the Polish documentary film Wyjście (Exit) by Małgorzata Bieńkowska-Buehlmann, the Bronze Remi Award was presented to Jacek Petrycki’s Miasto bez Boga (The City with No God), while Generał Nil (General Nil) by Ryszard Bugajski won the Special Jury Award.
Wyjście (Exit) tells the story of the massive exodus of Germans from East Germany to West Germany in 1989. When the road through Hungary and Austria was closed, Germans would show up at West German embassies in Poland and Czechoslovakia. This documentary portrays the individual and group relations of the desperate refugees who stayed at the West German embassy in Warsaw.
Miasto bez Boga (The City with No God) is the story of Nowa Huta, the city that was built to be the first “city with no God or church”, but instead became the site of some of the most severe fights for religion that later transformed into a struggle against the system itself. Built as a symbol of Socialism, it became in fact the symbol of its fall.
Generał Nil (General Nil) is an attempt at reconstructing the final years of general August Emil Fieldorf aka “Nil”, the legendary leader of the underground division of the Polish Army during the Second World War, who was falsely accused and sentenced to death by the communist authorities.
Another six awards in different categories went to films produced by Telewizja Polska. Drzazgi (Splinters) by Maciej Pieprzyca received the Silver Remi Award in the First Feature category. Czas honoru (Days of Honor), the television series by Michał Kwieciński, Michał Rosa and Wojciech Wójcik received the Platinum Remi Award in the TV Series category. Two episodes of the Miś Fantazy (Fantazy, the Bear) children’s series received the Gold and Silver Remi Awards in the Animated TV Production category, and finally two documentaries: Warszawa do wzięcia (Warsaw Available) by Karolina Bielawska and Julia Ruszkiewicz, and Amerykanin w PRL (An American in Communist Poland) by Piotr Morawski and Ryszard Kaczyński received the Special Jury Awards in the Documentary category.
Drzazgi (Splinters), produced by Akson Studio and TVP, is the story of three young people who come from different environments; they live in a Silesian town and their paths cross every day. Their fates are suddenly brought together in a series of dramatic events. Splinters received the Best Actress Award at last year’s Cairo International Film Festival, and was also screened at several other key film events, including the Shanghai Film Festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, the Troia Film Festival (Portugal), the Hamburg Film Festival, the Mumbai Film Festival, the Denver Film Festival, the Vancouver Film Festival, and the Cleveland Film Festival.
Czas honoru (Days of Honor), produced for TVP2, was nominated for the Golden Nymph award last year in Monte Carlo. It is a drama television series, inspired by the story of Polish saboteurs who received military training in England during the Second World War and were sent back to Nazi-occupied Poland to lead the underground fight for independence. The original plot, strong staging, and star-studded cast have brought the series both artistic and commercial success.
Miś Fantazy (Fantazy, the Bear), produced by Studio Filmów Animowanych in Poznań for TVP1, is an animated adaptation of the popular children’s book by Ewa and Marek Karwan-Jastrzębski about the adventures of a blue bear named Fantazy and his friends. In 2009, the Fantazy the Bear series received a number of awards in competition at the International Children’s Film Fetsival in Nairobi, Kenya.
Warszawa do wzięcia (Warsaw Available) by Karolina Bielawska and Julia Ruszkiewicz, produced by Eureka Media for TVP2, portrays the lives of three young women from different parts of Poland, who come to Warsaw to fulfill their dreams.
Produced by SF Kalejdoskop for TVP1 and recently awarded in Chicago, Amerykanin w PRL (An American in Communist Poland) is a compilation of archive footage presenting Robert Kennedy’s visit to Warsaw in 1964, a few months after the death of John F. Kennedy. Surrounded by crowds of enthusiastic Warsaw residents welcoming him to the city, and by hundreds of secret service agents, Robert Kennedy served as an icon that symbolized the legendary West to the Polish people. His behaviour and attitude are in direct contrast with the realities of life in a communist state, often to the dismay of both sides.
This year’s edition of WorldFest Houston lasted ten days and screened 55 feature films, 96 shorts, and hosted six professional production seminars.
Further details about the festival available at www.worldfest.org
Translated by Karolina Kołtun