Polish films in the Hot Docs competition in Toronto

As many as four Polish images were included in the program of the largest documentary film festival in North America – Hot Docs in Toronto. Three of them were co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. This include the latest film by Eliza Kubarska and Monika Braid – „Wall of shadows”, which will compete for the main prize in the Main Competition (International Spectrum) as one of nine titles out of over three thousand submitted productions.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hot Docs festival has not yet made the final decision whether the whole of this year’s festival will be presented online or partly in cinemas. The rules of competitions and The Doc Shop market, where accredited guests from the film industry will be able to watch movies, have not changed. The section „The Changing Face of Europe” includes „Lesson of Love” by Małgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja. In turn, the documentary „Złota”, directed by  Tomasz Knittel, will be presented as part of the Revisionaries section, while „Fatty Kate” by Julia Pełka will compete for the best short film title.

The film „Shadow Wall” will be available online from April 30 to May 31, 2020. It is also the world premiere of the film, which will be shown for the first time in Poland during the 17th edition of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival, which will take place on 4 -13 September in six Polish cities: Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Katowice, Poznań and Bydgoszcz.

A tale of a collision of two cultures

This is a universal story about the collision of two cultures. The story takes place at the foot of the Himalayan mountain, reaching almost 8000 meters Kumbhakarna, also called Jannu. For western mountaineers it is one of the most difficult mountains in the world and a dream destination to „conquer”, but for Nepalese Sherpas – one of the last sacred mountains. According to local beliefs, its peak is inhabited by gods and people have no right to enter their area. However, illiterate Nada decides to participate in the expedition. For 20 years he has risked his life as a high-altitude porter by hanging ropes on eight-thousanders. Now he wants to earn for the school for his youngest son – a dozen-year-old Dawa – and thus protect him from the dangerous work of the Himalayan porter. However, participation in the expedition to the holy mountain means breaking the taboo.

Mountaineers who intend to conquer the virgin eastern wall of Kumbhakarna are the outstanding Polish climber Marcin Tomaszewski and two-time climber Oscar winners (Golden Czekan) – Dmitri Golovchenko and Sergei Nilov from Russia. The weather breakdown and avalanches threatening climbers are just the beginning of increasing difficulties. Is it worth risking further? Will the gods of Kumbhakarna forgive people their impudence?

A dangerous trip for the film

The implementation of „Walls of Shadows” is material for a separate story. The filmmakers visited Nepal three times, and 4K photos were taken at altitudes up to 7400 meters, in Himalayan winter conditions. Climbing mountaineers turned out to be so ambitious and risky that the action was watched by media from around the world.

„Wall of Shadows” is the third joint film of the female team of director Eliza Kubarska and producer Monika Braid. It was created in Polish-German-Swiss co-production. The director of photography is Piotr Rosołowski, an award-winning director, screenwriter and cameraman who is also the co-author of the script. The sound was made by Franciszek Kozłowski and Zofia Morus. Special photos were taken by Keith Partridge from Great Britain and climbers themselves. The editing of the film is the work of Barbara Toennieshen from Germany, and the music was composed by Marcel Vaid from Switzerland.