The Golden Lions have been awarded at the 38th Gdynia Film Festival, with the biggest winners being Ida by Paweł Pawlikowski and In the Name of… by Małgorzata Szumowska.
Pawlikowski’s Ida received the Golden Lions Award for Best Film, while Małgorzata Szumowska’s film gained the Best Director Award and the Silver Lions. It shared the Second Prize with Life Feels Good by Maciej Pieprzyca, a picture that is anticipated to win the hearts of the audience in the upcoming year, judging from its successes and the extremely enthusiastic reception of the viewers at some of the festivals already – the film received Audience Award both in Gdynia and at the Montreal World Film Festival, and standing ovations at both. The Platinum Lions for lifetime achievement was awarded to the director Jerzy Antczak.
The winners have been picked by jury members Janusz Głowacki, whose script was used for Andrzej Wajda’s latest film, Wałęsa. Man of Hope, film directors Urszula Antoniak and Agnieszka Holland, actress Agata Buzek, cinematographer Artur Reinhart, Kirsten Niehuus, a trustee of the German TV channel ZDF, and Christopher Hampton, British screenwriter and Oscar winner of Stephen Frear's Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
Ida – Gdynia’s Favourite
Pawlikowski’s film has been considered one of the leading candidates for the main award from the very start. Ida was raising interest not only because it was the first film that the director of My Summer of Love and The Woman in the Fifth realized in Poland, but also due to its controversial storyline, embedded in the early communist era.
Agata Trzebuchowska in Ida by Paweł Pawlikowski, photo by: TIFF
The plot of the film is set in 1962. Ida (played by Agata Trzebuchowska) is an orphan raised in a convent, who is about to take her monastic vows. In order to make that happen, she needs to meet her only living relative – her aunt (Agata Kulesza), a passionate communist, who used to be involved in the biggest political trials. The meeting of these two characters opens up a story about identity, Holocaust, human cruelty, and the ruthless course of history.
Ida definitely deserved the Golden Lions Award. Pawlikowski’s wonderfully written, enigmatic film has also captivated the critics, who handed their award to the film. Apart from that, Ida also earned the Award for Art Direction, led by Katarzyna Sobańska and Marcel Sławiński, Best Cinematography (for Łukasz Żal) and Best Leading Actress (for Agata Kulesza).
In the Name of... (W Imię…), Małgorzata Szumowska
Szumowska’s film, the winner of the Silver Lions and the Best Director Award, isn’t trying to showcase gay activism, but instead fights for the protagonist. The main character is a priest reassigned from a Warsaw parish to one in a Masurian village. Here Father Adam creates a space for marginalised youth and ends up struggling with feelings he’s developed for one of the boys.
A director of a festival in Berlin, Dieter Kosslick, described In the Name of as a "very valid comment on the current situation in the church." But Szumowska is not concerned with publicity, scandal or pertinence. Her film is a drama about failure and a story about a man tormented by passions and attempting to control his sexuality. Andrzej Chyra’s performance gives the movie a huge relevance - he is among the accomplished, electrifying actors to come out of European cinema and theatre in recent years.
In the Name of... has received the Best Feature Film Award at the Milano MIX Film Festival, the International Feature Film Award at the International Women’s Film Festival in Dortmund, and a Teddy Award for the Best LGBT Film at the 63rd Berlinale.
Life Feels Good (Chce się Żyć), Maciej Pieprzyca
Dorota Kolak amd Dawid Ogrodnik in Life is Good by Maciej Pieprzyca, photo by: Paweł Dyllus / Studio Filmowe Tramway
The film had already received three awards from the prestigious Montreal World Film Festival, making it the most successful feature in Polish cinema in recent years. The attention of critics and audiences was concentrating particularly on Dawid Ogrodnik's performance. Life Feels Good received two awards in Gdynia: the Silver Lions and the Audience Award.
When he was born, Mathew was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and the doctors claimed he would live life in a vegetative state. However, his parents never accepted the diagnosis. After many years the young man is sent to an institution where he must fight for the right to lead a normal life.
Life Feels Good tells a story of love and the will to live combined with tenacity and fortitude. Pieprzyca’s film is full of irony and sensitivity and the images are unabashedly unpretentious and well executed.
Some of the other films competing for the main prize included:
Papusza, Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze
Papusza was the nickname of Bronisława Wajs, the first Roma poet to achieve widespread recognition. Her history is used by the directors as a point of departure for their story about art. According to their perspective, art can be a curse and a blessing - and the understanding it allows you to gather on the world can cause pain.
Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze spent years preparing for the shooting of their film and the result of their efforts can be seen on screen. Papusza features not one random scene or false note. Excellent performances are seen from Antoni Pawlicki as the poet Jerzy Ficowski, Jowita Budnik as Papusza, and Zbigniew Waleryś as her husband.
Krzysztof Ptak and Wojciech Staroń were the directors of photography responsible for the film’s crystal clear form, slow pace and dazzling black-and-white imagery.
The film won three awards at the Festival, although none of the major ones: it was recognized for Zbigniew Waleryś's supporting male role, music by Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz, and Anna Nobel-Nobielska's make-up work.
Imagine, Andrzej Jakimowski
Ian (Edward Hogg) , a young and charismatic instructor arrives at a Lisbon institute for the visually impaired. He is blind, walks without the help of a cane and will be transferring this technique to patients using a complex network of sound cues.
Jakimowski has produced a film through which viewers are able to put themselves in the shoes of the blind. "How can we perceive and appreciate the nature of what being blind must be like while indulging in highly aesthetic visual act [watching a movie]?" exclaims reviewer Robert Bell. "What distinguishes Jakimowski's work from being a mere motivational and inspiring parable is both his well-calculated style and his refusal to make saintly those with a disability.
Andrzej Jakimowski received the Best Director Award at the 28th Warsaw Film Festival. At Gdynia, it was awarded for sound, directed by Jacek Hamela and Guillaume Le Braz.
The remaining films taking part in the competition were Last Floor (Ostatnie Piętro) by Tadeusz Król, Ticket to the Moon (Bilet na Księżyc) by Jacek Bromski, Traffic Department (Drogówka) by Wojciech Smarzowski, Girl From the Closet (Dziewczyna z szafy) by Bodo Kox, Loving (Miłość) by Sławomir Fabicki, Lasting Moments (Nieulotne) by Jacek Borcuch, Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące Wieżowce) by Wojciech Wasilewski, Closed Circuit (Układ Zamknięty) by Ryszard Bugajski, and Baby Blues (Bejbi Blues) by Katarzyna Rosłaniec.
The Condition of Polish Cinema?
Judging from this Festival's showcase, Polish cinema seems to be heading in a good direction. It welcomes ambitious artistic projects such as those created by Pawlikowski and the Krauze duo, and has room for the young talents, like Tomasz Wasilewski, the director of Floating Skyscrapers, who may be considered the hope of the industry in the years to come.
The audience was also able to recognize that a golden mean in Polish cinema is possible – one that is entertaining and at the same meets the needs of the more demanding audience. In his Imagine, Jakimowski successfully juxtaposed melodrama with magical realism; Bodo Kox’s Girl From the Closet proved that one can create a comedy that is both funny and poignant, while Life Feels Good ultimately revived faith in the Polish genre cinema.
Gdynia Film Festival’s Additional Highlights
The special screenings at the festival featured The Congress by Ari Folman, based on a novel by Stanisław Lem, A Tale of Polish Siberia (Syberiada Polska) by Janusz Zaorski, Flying Blind (Zaślepiona) by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, as well as Roman Polański’s latest picture Venus in Furs. The festival audience also had a chance to see the excerpts of the upcoming film by Władysław Pasikowski, Jack Strong - a thriller about the colonel Ryszard Kukliński, featuring Marcin Dorociński and Maja Ostaszewska in the main roles.
This year’s edition also hosted a series of screenings of the Polish Science Fiction classics, such as Avatar, or Exchange of Souls (Awatar, Czyli Zamiana Dusz) by Janusz Majewski, Biohazard by Janusz Kubik, or Layer Cake (Przekładaniec) by Andrzej Wajda.
Festival website: www.fpff.pl
Source: PAP, www.fpff.pl, culture.pl, own materials, ed. JN and BS, September 2013, trans. AM with edits, September 2013