Polish Films Awarded in Montreal

Rafael Lewandowski and Borys Szyc. Photo by Marcin Kułakowski, Polish Film Institute (PISF)
Rafael Lewandowski and Borys Szyc. Photo by Marcin Kułakowski, Polish Film Institute (PISF)


Borys Szyc received the Best Actor award for his role in Kret (The Mole) by Rafael Lewandowski, while Antoni Krauze’s Czarny czwartek. Janek Wiśniewski padł (Black Thursday) received the FIPRESCI award at the 35th Montreal International Film Festival.


Borys Szyc received the award ex aequo with Danny Huston who starred in the French-Israeli co-production Playoff by Eran Riklis. The FIPRESCI award was shared between Black Thursday and Nordzee, Texas by Bavo Defurne. The Best Film award at this year’s Montreal IFF went to the Belgian feature Hasta la Vista by Geoffrey Enthoven.


The Montreal screenings of The Mole and Black Thursday, both co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, mark their international premieres.


Kret (The Mole) is the story of 30-year-old Paweł (Borys Szyc) who together with his father (Marian Dziędziel) runs a business that imports used clothes from France. While on the road home from a business trip, Paweł notices his father’s photo on the cover of a popular tabloid newspaper. Zygmunt, an acclaimed Solidarity man, widely regarded as a hero in the struggle against communism, is suddenly accused of having secretly collaborated with the communist secret police.


Black Thursday. Photo by Marysia Gąsecka
Black Thursday. Photo by Marysia Gąsecka


Czarny czwartek. Janek Wiśniewski padł (Black Thursday) is the story of workers’ strikes that swept through Poland in 1970 and were brutally shut down by the communist authorities. The film is based on the story of the family of a Gdynia shipyard worker named Brunon Drywa, who died during the riots after being shot in the back at a local train station. Black Thursday received support from the General Director of the Polish Film Institute Agnieszka Odorowicz and from the Mayor of Gdynia Wojciech Szczurek.


The Mole previously screened in Main Competition at the 36th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, where Marian Dziędziel received the award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was released theatrically in Poland on August 5, 2011.


Antoni Krauze received Special Mention of the International Jury in Gdynia for his work on Black Thursday. The film was released theatrically on February 25, 2011 and has marked almost 700,000 admissions to date.


Black Thursday received good reviews from Variety magazine. Dennis Harvey writes that Antoni Krauze’s feature is a “potent docudrama re-enactment of a notorious episode in Polish history”, while its “large-scale scenes of panic and violence are vivid”. Harvey praises the concept of telling the story as seen through the eyes of various characters appearing on-screen: “from a student passerby dragged into fatally abusive custody to the party chiefs who reluctantly bend to the will of the shrillest ideologues among them.” In addition to interesting storytelling and solid performances, Dennis Harley points out the film’s visual and musical side: “The somber palette of Jacek Petrycki’s lensing sets the tenor for aptly gritty design work, while Michal Lorenc’s […] score excels with furious cello passages during scenes of mass chaos.”


This year’s Montreal IFF lineup included a total of five Polish films. Apart from Black Thursday by Antoni Krauze and The Mole by Rafael Lewandowski, both screening in the festival’s International Competition, the First Films Competition also included Lęk wysokości (Fear of Falling) by Bartek Konopka, while the Focus on the World section screened Księstwo (The Principality) by Andrzej Barański and Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow.


All Polish films screening at the 35th Montreal IFF were co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.


This year’s edition of the Montreal IFF ran from August 18 through August 28, and screened over 400 films from 70 countries. Further details about the festival available at: www.ffm-montreal.org.


Translated by Karolina Kołtun