Polish film festival expands its Horizons

Event adds industry components, lines up new home

WROCLAW, Poland — Wroclaw’s Era New Horizons film festival is moving to another venue and adding more industry events after establishing itself over 10 years as one of Poland’s top international events.

Beginning in 2013, its home will be in a $100 million concert and events center with a 2,000-seat main hall, which is being built as part of the city’s bid to become the European culture capital in 2016.

Industry components introduced last year — along with competition juries after years of audience-judged awards — will be expanded to meet demand from growing numbers of professionals at the fest.

“Our ambition is not to be bigger but deeper, with better retrospectives, better films and interdisciplinary events,” fest founder Roman Gutek told Daily Variety.

Gutek, whose Gutek Film is an arthouse distributor in Poland, founded New Horizons after setting up and running until 1992 the Warsaw Film Festival, now in its 26th year.

New Horizons has become Poland’s biggest fest, last year attracting 122,000 fans to a program of innovative, arthouse films that this year includes around 250 features and a similar number of shorts.

Growing interest from industryites, who value the opportunity to see a wide range of films and retrospectives not often found elsewhere, is prompting the evolution of a fest that has always featured art gallery installations and music events as well.

At this year’s edition, which opened July 22 and runs until Aug. 1, the New Horizons Studio talent workshop created with Film London chairman Sandy Lierberson will host masterclasses with U.S. helmer Jonathan Caouette (“Tarnation”) and Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“Distant,” “Climates”).

More than 30 young Polish directors, producers, composers and screenwriters will participate in the workshops, designed to widen their knowledge of how the international film industry works.

“We need to help develop the younger generation of film industry professionals, who tend not to travel much or know the industry outside Poland,” Gutek said.

State funding introduced after the Polish Film Institute was set up five years ago had tended to create a generation of producers who concentrated on raising money but not on promoting their films and working more as creative producers, Gutek added.

British film buyer Mary Davies, one of around 120 industry guests at this year’s fest, said it was an opportunity to see films and meet sales agents in an informal setting.

Davies, who buys films for Japanese arthouse satellite channel Cinefil Imagica, said the wide range and number of arthouse movies at the fest was a key factor in her attendance.

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