Polish films at festivals

The Mole, Ki, La terre outragée


The organizers of three international film festivals – in Montreal, Toronto and Venice – announced the official line-ups. Six Polish productions and co-productions have been selected to be screened during those events.

Kret (The Mole) was chosen by the selectors of the 35th International Film Festival in Montreal to take part in the international contest. The Montreal Festival is the only A-class festival in Northern America. Its aim is to support the development of international cinematography by promoting the cultural variety and propping up debuts and innovative films. This year’s edition will last from 18th to 28th of August. Over 400 films from 70 countries are to be shown.


The Mole is a full-length feature debut by Rafael Lewandowski. It’s a story of Paweł (Borys Szyc) who is a son of a “Solidarity” activist Zygmunt (Marian Dziędziel). Paweł’s wife Ewa (Magdalena Czerwińska) is a daughter of a miner who had been killed during a mine-strike riot under communism. One day a photo of Zygmunt is published in a paper. He is accused of having collaborated with the communist secret police in the 1980s (with “The Mole” as his code name), and having informed on his colleages during the strike.


The viewers of the Toronto International Film Festival will get a chance to see two Polish movies: Sponsoring by Małgorzata Szumowska and The Woman in the Fifth by Paweł Pawlikowski. Both films will have their premieres at the festival.


The festival, founded in 1976, lacks a jury and is non-competitive. The major prize, People’s Choices Award is given by the viewers to a feature-length film with the highest ratings as voted. The festival will last from 8th to 18th September.


Sponsoring tells the story of Anna (Juliette Binoche), a journalist writing an article about prostitution among university students. While working on her piece, she meets two young women, Charlotte (Anaïs Demoustier) and Alicja (Joanna Kulig), who bring her into the world of love for sale. A kind of world that is appalling, yet at the same time – to Anna’s own surprise – somewhat appealing. The script written by Małgorzata Szumowska and a Danish scriptwriter Tine Byrckel was noticed during Cannes festival in 2009.


The Woman in the Fifth is a story adapted from a Douglas Kennedy’s best-seller, starring Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas and Joanna Kulig. Rick’s life has got out of control – after leaving his wife he heads for Paris to find his daughter and happiness among the French bohemia. Meeting wrong people pushes Rick towards a fall but he gets to know Magrit, a mysterious émigré, who seduces him and appears to offer the hedonistic and uncomplicated life he craves.


Three Polish accents appeared in the line-up of the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Bóg zemsty (Carnage) by Roman Polanski was selected to the main competition and will fight for the Golden Lion. The film will have it’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It’s a story based on Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning comedy God of Carnage, starring John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. The film follows two sets of parents who meet up to talk after their children have been in a fight that day at school. The cultural conversation at some point starts to get out of control. Polish co-producer on ‘Carnage’ is SPI International Polska. The director of photography is Paweł Edelman.


Leszek Dawid’s feature debut Ki will be screened at the Venice Days – a non-competitive section for independent film productions during the 68th Venice International Film Festival. The Venice Days selectors have chosen 12 movies. One of them will get an honorable mention of the Europe Cinemas connected with a distribution support. All debut films shown during the Venice festival compete for the Luigi De Laurentiis Venice Award – Lion of the Future. The winner will get 100 000 euros.


Ki has already been presented at the Polish Films Festival in Gdynia where Roma Gąsiorowska got the award for the best actress in a leading role. Ki is a film portrait of a girl who tries not to follow her mother’s pattern of a single woman having a child. She wants to live a full life – fast and intense. Ki meets Miko. The difficult relation between those two helps Ki to grow up and start loving and being responsible for herself and her son. The organizers of the Venice Days have written that Ki is “a unique portrait of woman, almost an emblem of this edition”.

In the line up of the International Film Critic’s Week which is another non-competitive section of the Venice festival appeared Znieważnona ziemia (La terre outragée/Land of Oblivion) by Michale Boganim. It’s a French/German/Ukrainian/Polish co-production starring Andrzej Chyba in one of the leading roles and with Leszek Możdżer’s music. The Polish co-producer on this project is Apple Film Production. As a debut Land of Oblivion also has a chance to win the Lion of the Future.

The film retraces the irreversible consequences of the accident at Chernobyl nuclear power station in 1986. The organizers of the International Film Critic’s Week wrote that Land of Oblivion is “the highest quality debut”.

The 68th Venice International Film Festival starts on August 31st and ends September 10th.

All six films were supported by Polish Film Institute.


Kalina Cybulska