The T-Mobile New Horizons festival, Poland’s biggest annual film event, gives its Grand Prizes
Still from Tomasz Wasilewski's "Floating Skyscrapers", photo: Anna Tomczyńska
T-Mobile New Horizons, based in Wrocław and Poland’s biggest annual film event, gives its Grand Prize to Alexey Fedorchenko for Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari, while director Tomasz Wasilewski receives the Audience Award for his latest feature, Floating Skyscrapers
The 13th edition of the festival focused on art-house cinema, presenting over 350 films, 140 of which were shown in Poland for the first time. At the gala screening of Małgośka Szumowska’s story of a homosexual priest, In the Name of..., the winner of the international competition, Alexey Fedorchenko, received the festival grand prize and 20,000 euro check for his film Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari, a "cinematic monument to the dying minorities of the Russian Federation".
Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari / Nebesnye zheny lugovykh mar consists of 26 stories of various lengths, artfully intertwining erotica with folklore, rituals and beliefs. Its protaganists are the inhabitants of the Republic of Mari El which borders Tatarstan in the south - women "whose names begin with the letter ‘O’".
Commenting on the film, critic Jan Topolski writes, "What viewers will see are the dead rising from the grave, the punishment of sacred trees, a forest spirit demanding sex and vaginas speaking in their own voices!"
The jury of the internaitonal competition, composed of the Hungarian director Béla Tarr (Turin Horse), Dominga Sotomayor (Thursday till Sunday), Edgar Pêra (The Baron), Joanna Kos-Krauze (Papusza) and Christoph Terhechte, the head of the Berlinale’s Forum section, awarded Fedorchenko for his "subtlety, empathy, respect for human dignity, and the same time his sense of humour and imagination".
The Public Award and the FIPRESCI Award winners were selected from the 13 films running in the main competition. The latter award went to Tomasz Wasilewski's drama about unwanted, unexpected love between two men, Floating Skyscrapers, while the former was won by the Cannes competition film Stranger by the Lake by Alain Guiraudie.
The international jury (Sally Berger, Barbara Pichler, Amos Poe, Karol Radziszewski and Ben Russell) of the Films on Art International Competition awarded the main prize of 10,000 euro to Sick Birds Die Easy (USA, 2013) by Nicholas Fackler, which had its European premiere at the festival.
The winning films in the New Horizons International Competition and the Films on Art International Competition automatically receive an offer for Polish distribution from the New Horizons Association, which has released 33 films since 2010.
In the European Short Films Competition, the best documentary was The Day Has Conquered the Night (France, 2013) by Jean-Gabriel Périot, and the best experimental film was Dry Standpipe (Poland, 2012) by Wojciech Bąkowski.
Łukasz Ostalski's Mother was recognised as the best fiction film of the Polish Short Films Competition, while Tomasz Popakul's Ziegenort was named best animation and Marcin Janos Krawczyk's Mother 24/7 took the award for best documentary.
350 films and Szumowska
Presented during the award gala, Szumowska's story follows an energetic, charismatic, open-minded priest (Andrzej Chyra) whose new friendship with a young man (Mateusz Kościukiewicz) forces him to cope with problems that have been worrying him for a long time.
Other important events of the festival include the screening of Gustav Deutsch's Shirley – Visions of Reality, the Austrian director's "invitation inside some of the paintings of Edward Hopper. It is an entryway into a world brought to life by a virtuoso director with respect for a visual genius, that is well suited to the medium of film". Much like the 900 minutes of Mark Cousin’s The Story of Film – An Odyssey - "the result of many years" work as a director and film critic, and as someone whose heart beats with a love of cinema. As the title suggests, it is a project looking back at the development of cinematography.
"Today cinema enters into the spheres of other artistic fields, and thus becomes part of contemporary art", says Roman Gutek, founder of New Horizons and the Warsaw Film Festival. The 13th edition of the Wrocław festival included a retrospective of French neo-Baroque (the films of Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax), a retrospective of the work of Walerian Borowczyk, one of the important experimenters in Polish cinema and a writer and painter, and a "cyberpunk" retrospective of the German director Hans Juergen Syberberg.
Film, art and music abounded at the July event, with U.S. vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Mike Patton - known from the bands Faith No More, Tomahawk, Fantomas and Mr. Bungle - gracing the stage, as did Diamanda Galás, the avant-garde composer, vocalist, pianist, performance artist and painter "capable of the most unnerving vocal terror" with her three-and-a-half octave vocal range.
Editor: MJ 30.07.2013, translated and edited from the original Polish article
Additional sources: New Horizons website, Hollywoord Reporter