Bartek Konopka, Warsaw, November 17, 2009, photo: VIPHOTO/East News
Bartek Konopka, Warsaw, November 17, 2009, photo: VIPHOTO/East News

Screenwriter, feature and documentary film director. Born on September 8, 1972 in Myślenice. Nominated for the Oscar in 2010 for his documentary short Rabbit à la Berlin. 

Konopka holds a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Jagiellonian University. He also received a postgraduate degree in journalism at the University of Warsaw. He worked as a TV/ radio reporter for four years, before graduating with a degree in directing from the Department of Television and Film at Sląsk University. He participated in a documentary and feature film course at the Andrzej Wajda Film School. In 2003, his film won in the Planete competition for best documentary screenplay, this honor opened many doors for him, later showing his films on several TV networks, including Planete. He has directed countless documentaries for television stations TVP, TVN, MTV, VIVA, as well as adverts and music videos. He was nominated for the Passport Prize from the Polityka monthly, as well as a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture for artistic achievement and the Nipkow scholarship in Berlin.

His debut feature film Trójka do wzięcia/Three for the Taking (2006) won numerous awards. The film is a story about a sixteen year-old girl and the new challenges in life she has to face. With her mother terminally ill she now has to take care of her younger siblings. The film portrays the children as they make their way through life desperately trying to escape being taken to an orphanage.

In 2006-2007, Konopka directed episodes 8-13 of a TV series Królowie śródmieścia. Konopka is an author of documentary films, his first documentary being Niebo nad Europą / Sky over Europe (2003). Konopka wrote the screenplay, directed and edited the film. His next films brought forth much acclaim. Ballada o kozie /The Goat Walker(2004) written and directed by Konopka, tells a story of a small, decrepit village in Lubuskie region, where once a state-owned farm was located. The story is shown from the perspective of a social experiment where goats are given to needy families instead of financial benefits as part of the help they receive from social wealthcare. His  film Rabbit à la Berlin (2009) carries a similar theme. In an interview with filmweb.pl the director recalls how he got the inspiration for the film:

In one of the classes at Andrzej Wajda's film school, Marcel Łoziński was telling us about the projects he had conceived but which he never managed to accomplish; Łoziński was talking about those rabbits as if it was a sci-fi movie. As far as he knew, there were two walls and between these walls there was green grass with thousands of white rabbits running around. This story brings to mind a certain image - an image that is very evocative and a bit surreal. And my first thought was, what a brilliant idea! And then, in 1989, when the wall came down everyone was interested in people, all the cameras looked up, while on the ground a very different, unnoticed exodus was taking place. For Łoziński, this too was interesting, and who knows, maybe even more significant...

The film was screened in a number of countries, both at festivals and through mainstream distribution. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the Short Documentary category in 2010.

Bartek Konopka is also a co-screenwriter and co-director, along with Maciej Górski, Kinga Lewińska, Agnieszka Smoczyńska, Natalia Surmiak, of a play Sceny z powstania (2004), an experimental performance for TV Theatre in Polish TV made under the artistic guidance of Leszek Wosiewicz.

He was the cinematographer for the documentary footage in Trzech kumpli/Three Mates a documentary by Ewa Stankiewicz i Anna Ferens (2008) about the tragic fates of three friends studying Polish Literature in the 70s at Jagielloński University in Kraków, Staszek Pyjas, Leszek Maleszka and Bronisław Wildstein.

In 2011 the Munk Studio released Konopka's latest project, his first feature film. Lęk Wysokości/Fear of Falling is an intimate portrait of a family whose perfect life is rattled by a grandfather's illness, only to fall back into place thanks to courage and risk. Tomek (30) has made a life for himself in the big city and has a successful career as a TV reporter and a happy family. His ordered life is disrupted when his estranged father arrives and Tomek decides to reach out to his father, although they haven’t seen each other for years. It turns out his father is ill. The relationship spans highs and lows that impact Tomek's life permanently. The film was presented at a number of festivals over 2011 and 2012, including the Denver Film Festival, European Film Festival Segovia, Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Montreal World Film Festival.

In 2013 Bartek Konopka together with Piotr Rosołowski directed the documentary film Art of Disappearing as part of the Guide to the Poles series. The film adopts a novel technique for posing questions about the Polish soul under the oppressive weight of the socialist authorities, manipulated by outside powers, trapped within the confines of mental and cultural oppression which they have submitted to. Art of Disappearing examines the more intimate aspects of  freedom during a time of political regime. When a newcomer from the New World takes a look at Poland in 1980, he sees a lot more than the average Pole was able to see. Were Poles really among the most miserable nations in the world? If so then why did their hearts blaze so brightly in matters related to love and romance? Amon's mystical gaze reveals many surprising aspects of the Polish soul.

 

Selected Filmography:

2014Z łóżka powstałeś/ (You got out of bed), director, co-screenwriter/documentary short/23'/NBP & Utter Films

2013 : Nowa Warszawa/ New Warsaw, director, screenwriter/documentary/69'/produced by National Audiovisual Institute & Polish TV

2013 : Art of Disappearing,  co-director, co-screenwriter/documentary/51'/produced by Adam Mickiewicz Institute

Major distictions for Art of Disappearing

  • Montreal (Recontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal)
  • Jihlava (International Festival of Documentary Films)

2010:Fear of Falling, director, co-screenwriter / feature film / 90’ /. Screenplay Award at the Hartley-Merrill competition, 2009

2009: Rabbit à la Berlin. Director, co-screenwriter / documentary / 39’ & 50’ / super16, HDV. Polish-German production: MS Films, Majade Filmproduktion and TVP1, co-financed by PISF, MDR, RBB/ARTE and Lichtpunt Belgia, YLE Finlandia, VPRO Holandia, Program Media. Development: Discovery Campus Masterschool, Ex Oriente, Nipkow Programme

Major distinctions and awards for Rabbit à la Berlin

  • Oscar nomination in the category for Best Short Documentary Film 2009
  • Award for the Best Film Short at the 16th Hot Docs Toronto, Canada 2009
  • The Golden Hour award for the best film short at the 6th planet Doc Review Warsaw 2009
  • Grand Prix at the 49th Krakow Film Festival 3009
  • Award for Best Producer: the Bronislaw Chromy for Anna Wydra – 49th Krakow Film Festival 2009
  • Special Jury Award – 13th Wlodzimierz Puchalski International Environmental Film Festival, Lodz 2009
  • Best Film Award in the Conflict & Resolution category at the 17th International Film Festival at the Hamptons USA 2009
  • Silver Eye Award for Best Short Film -13th International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlav, Czech Republic 2009
  • Main Golden Teeth Prize at the 21st Polish Film Festival in America, Chicago, USA 2009
  • Award for the best Documentary Film Jancio Wodnik – 17th Prowincjonalia 2010Film Art Festival in September, Poland 2010
  • 2nd place in the Short Film category at the 7th International Documentary Film Festival ‘Documenta’ Madrid, Spain 2010

2007: Królowie śródmieścia/ Kings of the City,  director / TV series, episodes 8-11 / 4x42’. Production: Studio Kalejdoskop for TVP1/ Starring: Olga Frycz, Lukasz Simlat, Antoni Pawlicki, Michal Koterski, Ewa Kasprzyk

2006: Three for the Taking, director, co-writer. Feature film, 40’ TVP, 30 min programme. Production: Andrzej Wajda Film School. Starring: Klaudia Barcik, M. Hajewska- Krzysztofik, Krzysztof Czeczot. Distribution rights bought by tv ARTE.

Major distinctions and awards for Three for the Taking:

  • Grand Prix , Best Actor Award – 22nd European Short Film Festival, Brest, France, 2007
  • Best Debut- 14th IDSAFF Message to Man; St Petersburg 2007, Russia
  • Best Film Short – 3rd Polish Film Festival, New York, USA 2007
  • Best Film Short-16th Polish Film Festival, Seattle, USA 2008
  • Best Story - 5th Slamdance on the Road; Krakow 2010
  • Best Short Script, Best screenplay – 4th Toffifest, Torun 2007
  • Best Short Script – 26th Debut Festival, Koszalin 2007
  • Best Short Script, People’s Choice Award – 6th Short Film Festival, Warsaw 2007
  • Special Mention- 32nd Polish Film Festival, Gdynia 2007
  • Best Editing- Offskary, Warsaw 2008

2005: Sceny z Powstania / Scenes from the Uprising, director and screenwriter (for one episode) / theatre TV / 70’ / TVP2 Kazimierz Dolny Film Festival, The Art of Directorial interpretation Festival

2004: The Goat Walker, director, co-writer / documentary / 52’ / production: Planet GE

Major awards and distinctions for The Goat Walker

  • Planaete Script Award – Germany 2003
  • Planete Docu Prize- Berlinale 2004, Germany
  • Audience Award- DokumentART Neubrandenburg 2004, Germany
  • Audience Award- MFFK Krakow 2004
  • Audience Award- Toffifest Torun 2004
  • Best Documentary- ‘Prowincjonalia’ Septemner 2004
  • Best Documentayr- Era ‘Nowe Horyzont’ / ‘New Horizons’ Festival, Cieszyn, 2005

 

Author: Jessica Savage & Culture.pl, ed.GS, 16.09.2014