International producers looking to lens in Poland should find the process much easier with the launch of the country’s first-ever film commission.Set up earlier this year, the body is specifically designed to promote the country as a location for foreign producers. The commission will act as an intermediary for producers with national and local authorities to help find the best locations, service companies and facilities. Aleksandra Szczerbak, one of the two newly appointed commissioners, says Poland is a natural partner for foreign producers, with a highly developed film industry, internationally acclaimed cinematographers, multilingual crews, state of the-art production facilities and competitive local prices compared with other parts of Europe. Based in Warsaw, the commission will also liaise with Poland’s network of regional film funds and city and regional departments, and help with such logistics as work visas, shooting permits and assisting with location scouting. “One of the greatest assets of Poland is its unique nature and authenticity,” Szczerbak says. “Even though it might be looked upon as one of many Eastern European countries, we offer a variety of landscapes — mountains, lakes, highlands, wild forests, sand dunes — unsurpassed in any other European country.” Poland can double for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It also boasts “apocalyptic waste lands and modern, high-tech industrial” landscapes. Top locations include the Tatra Mountains, near Zakopane; the Baltic coast at Jurata; Biebrzanski National Park; salt mines at Wieliczka; and the primeval forest of Bialowieska. The new body will complement the work of the Polish Film Institute, set up in 2005 after the passage of a law that raises money to support local films and international co-prods through a levy on cinema tickets and audio visual industry profits. This year’s budget is $37 million. The PFI, which promotes Polish film internationally, is representing only one film at the Cannes market this year: “Viva Belarus!” the story of an anti-government activist in Belarus, directed by Krzysztof Lukaszewicz. Other films are being repped directly by international sales agents. International buyers may still see all latest Polish productions at the PFI’s screening room at the Polish Cinema Stand, located in a penthouse at Croisette 6 across from the Palais. Activities at the Polish Cinema Stand include the May 22 celebration of a co-production agreement signed with France in March. Projects and producers from both countries will be presented.
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