Highly-Awaited Polish Movies Coming Out in 2018
The year 2018 in Polish film will be brimming with variety. Expect fine debuts, big comebacks of old masters, costly blockbusters and intimate encounters with arthouse productions. Here’s a selection of highly-anticipated movies that will no doubt be much talked about this year.
Atak Paniki by Paweł Maślona
Editor’s translation: Panic Attack
Polish premiere: 19th January
The most spectacular debut in recent years. Paweł Maślona, an acclaimed creator of shorts, and co-author of Demon enters Polish cinema’s premier league with a kick. In Atak Paniki (Panic Attack), comedy and tragedy come together, and seemingly unrelated stories make for a mosaic structure.
With his skillful mise-en-scène and directorial sense of rhythm, Maślona puts his more experienced colleagues to shame. For there’s more to his film than skilled cinematic craft and insightfulness. It’s an important story about anxieties overpowering modern society.
Beyond Words by Urszula Antoniak
Polish premiere: 16th February
Her previous films marked Urszula Antoniak’s rise to stardom in arthouse cinema. Beyond Words seems to confirm her status as one of the most intriguing filmmakers in Poland, distinguished by her unique style and particular cinematic language.
A youngster trades Poland for Berlin. Years later, he is still desperately trying to blend into German society. One of the revelations at this year’s Gdynia Film Festival, the stunning duo of Jakub Gierszał and Andrzej Chyra with Lennert Hillege’s spectacular cinematography makes for an unobvious story about émigré life, identity and ever-changing Europe.
Pitbull: Ostatni Pies by Władysław Pasikowski
Editor’s translation: Pitbull: The Last Dog
Polish premiere: 15th March
When it was revealed that the new Pitbull film will be directed (and written) by Władysław Pasikowski, the media were abuzz. For that either meant a refreshing touch for a series brought into disrepute by the cynical productions of Patryk Vega or it was going to be the last rites of the title, only remembered by cop film geeks in the distant future.
We’re betting on the former since Pasikowski is a great screenwriter and seasoned genre craftsman. He is likely to bring the Pitbull series back to where it started as a TV series.
We’ve got all the more grounds for hope as members of the original cast have announced their comeback to the series: Marcin Dorociński as Despero, Rafał Mohr, and Krzysztof Stroiński, the unforgettable master of supporting roles.
Tower. A Bright Day by Jagoda Szelc
Polish premiere: 23th March
When Tower. A Bright Day was being filmed, director Jagoda Szelc was still a student at Łódź Film School. Today, not much later, she has already been awarded prizes for Best Director and Best Script at Gdynia Film Festival and the Polityka Passports. She has everything needed to become Polish cinema’s next star: she does not hesitate to speak her mind and has a personality that allows her to tantalize both the audience and her colleagues on set.
Her debut, Tower. A Bright Day, is a Polish response to Yorgos Lanthimos. Two sisters, a family secret, rationality and spirituality wrestling each other. Szelc’s particular voice makes for terrific auteur cinema: her family drama combines elements of horror, and philosophical film.
Mug by Małgośka Szumowska
Original Polish title: Twarz
Polish premiere: 6th April
Is there a chance for another success? It seems so as Mug has already been deemed one of Szumowska’s strongest performances [update: yes, it won the Silver Bear!]. Mug is a fairytale offering a sociological outlook. It tells a story of a young man who seeks a face transplant, following a serious accident. After the procedure, he faces a difficult homecoming into a hostile society.
Based on A True Story by Roman Polański
Roman Polański is by far the youngest 85-year-old of Polish cinema. We will be able to judge whether he’s in shape in May when his long-awaited Based on a True Story enters the cinemas. It’s an adaptation of a best-selling novel by French author Delphine De Vigan.
An acclaimed author faces cynicism claims upon portraying her suicidal mother in her latest novel, accusations which cause ever-growing isolation. This promptly changes when she meets a fan, and an unobvious dynamic commences between the two.
Based on a True Story stars Emmanuelle Seigner and Eva Green, while the screenplay was written by Olivier Assayas, winner of the 2016 Palme d’Or for Personal Shopper.
Kamerdyner by Filip Bajon
Nearly 31 years ago, Filip Bajon’s exquisite The Magnate lighted up cinema screens. To this day, it is one of his most accomplished films, together with Aria for an Athlete and Shilly-Shally. Will Kamerdyner be equally successful or will it be another of Bajon’s less-noteworthy films? We shall learn in September when Kamerdyner premieres after three years of production.
It’s an epic family saga, told over dozens of years and by many characters, Germans and Poles living in Kaszuby, with various class backgrounds. Sebastian Fabijański, the titular butler, is going to be joined by Anna Radwan, Janusz Gajos, Daniel Olbrychski, Adam Woronowicz and Marianna Zydek.
7 Uczuć by Marek Koterski
Fans of Marek Koterski had to wait no less than seven years to see a new film made by their master. The director of The Day of The Wacko, which enjoys cult status in Poland, invites us on yet another therapeutic journey, a joint reminiscence session. For 7 Uczuć is a story with many characters, which we get to know both as kids and later as grown-ups.
This is basically all we know about the film for now and the producers don’t want to reveal much more about the script. What we know for sure though is that Poland’s biggest stars are involved in the project: Andrzej Chyra, Maja Ostaszewska, Robert Więckiewicz, Katarzyna Figura, Magdalena Cielecka, Michał Koterski, Adam Woronowicz, Gabriela Muskała and Małgorzata Bogdańska
Legiony by Dariusz Gajewski
Polish premiere: 26th October
Even though the legions are officially due to storm Polish cinemas in October, in good time for the centenary of Poland’s independence on 11th November, it seems quite unlikely as many problems have occurred during the production process. Although shooting started in the summer of 2017, the crew only managed to film for a few days. The rest was scheduled to be shot in 2018. If we add editing time and post production, it becomes clear that it will be difficult for such a grand film as Legiony to open in October. Perhaps, it would be a good idea to give the crew more time. We are talking about a spectacular blockbuster with a budget of no less than 30 million złoty that is meant to be modern war cinema told with élan. Said élan is much needed as the film is said to pack in a lot of history, spanning sets between 1914 and 1916 and accompanying the Polish Legions until the Battle of Kościuchnówka. Legiony stars Sebastian Fabijański, Borys Szyc, Mirosław Baka and Jan Frycz as Józef Piłsudski, Poland’s great statesperson.
Films without release dates
Although the cinema agenda is typically filled much in advance, a few noteworthy 2018 titles are still awaiting a release date:
3 by Wojtek Smarzowski
Smarzowski’s new film may still be awaiting a release date, but it is already perfectly sure to be one of the most commented on and controversial films of the year. Over the years, the director has taken on Poland’s common conscience, tackling such topics as folksiness (The Wedding), our past (Rose, The Dark House) and tribal instincts (Volhynia). This time Smarzowski points his finger at paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church.
Shooting started back in 2016 which makes it more likely for the film to premiere this year. 3 will star the biggest names of Smarzowski’s universe: Robert Więckiewicz, Jacek Braciak, and Janusz Gajos in support.
53 Wojny by Ewa Bukowska
Editor’s translation: 53 Wars
This feature-length debut by Ewa Bukowska is a story inspired by Miłość z Kamienia: Życie z Korespondentem Wojennym (editor’s translation: Stone Love: My Life With A War Correspondent) by Grażyna Jagielska, a writer and wife of esteemed Polish reporter Wojciech Jagielski. It’s a love story about a complex relationship between two people told against the background of war. The premiere date remains unknown, but the film will certainly open this year. And it will be worth the wait. At least for the leading duo: Michał Żurawski and Magdalena Popławska, an outstanding actress still waiting for a role worthy of her talent.
Another Day of Life by Damian Nenow & Raúl de la Fuente
Continuing with the topic of Polish reporters, Damian Nenow and Raúl de la Fuente’s long-awaited animated adaptation of Ryszard Kapuściński’s Another Day of Life is set in the 1970s in the midst of the Angolan Civil War.
Production started nearly 6 years ago. However, as we are informed by Łukasz Muszyński from Filmweb, Another Day of Life is to soon be presented at one of the world’s key festivals.
Damian Nenow in Polityka wrote 6 years ago:
First and foremost it’s a film about Kapuściński and his metamorphosis: a reporter turning into a writer, shown against the Angolan background. In Another Day of Life, we show Kapuściński as internally torn, on many levels. The films opens when he’s already a 43-year-old experienced professional, a fulfilled correspondent.
Read more about Nenow & de la Fuente's project here.
Cold War by Paweł Pawlikowski
Original Polish title: Zimna Wojna
One of the most hotly-anticipated films of the year. Paweł Pawlikowski, winner of an Academy Award for Ida comes back to the 1950s & 1960s aesthetic to tell a love story between the young soloist of a folk band (played by Joanna Kulig) and her elder accompanist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot).
As producer Ewa Puszczyńska told Gazeta Wyborcza:
Quite obviously it isn’t a musical, traditionally speaking, but music plays an essential role in the film.
The scenario was co-written by Paweł Pawlikowski and the recently-deceased Janusz Głowacki while the cinematography is by Łukasz Żal, also known for Ida. The premiere date remains unknown, but it is likely we shall see its first screening during one of the film calendar’s more important festivals. Amazon studios has already acquired rights to the film.
Sources: Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, press materials, own materials. Originally written in Polish, Jan 2018, translated by MS, Feb 2018