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Toronto: Fresh Bounty of Polish Films Headed to Festival

Poland’s strong showing at Toronto with six pics screening from helmers at all career levels is no fluke, according to those in the emerging art film center of Eastern Europe.

Films such as Jerzy Skolimowki’s thriller “11 Minutes,” screening in the fest’s Masters section, continue flying the standard for respected Polish voices in the tradition of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Roman Polanski. Skolimowski’s project shares screening berths at Toronto with pics that show off rising talent on the global stage and voices still undiscovered outside of Europe.

The Polish-Israeli “Demon,” (pictured) an unconventional exploration of possession by Marcin Wrona, is screening in the fest’s Vanguard section and illustrates foreign co-prods, as does Magnus von Horn’s Polish-Swedish-French debut “The Here After.” Documentarian Wiktoria Szymanska’s Polish-U.K.-Danish-Mexican narrative debut “7 Sheep,” a short film exploring the meaning of family, loneliness and escape, screens in fest’s Short Cuts section while Wojciech Bakowski’s short essay “Analysis of Emotions and Vexations” has its world preem in Wavelengths, which celebrates boundary-breaking work.

Meanwhile, the all-Polish “Body,” a special presentation by three-time Toronto guest Malgorzata Szumowska, represents the level of global appeal being achieved by select Eastern European helmers. Szumowska, who says she is looking most forward to working with young filmmakers at Toronto’s Talent Lab along with mentors Wim Wenders and Jim Stark, is invested in showing North American audiences the many facets of contemporary Polish production.

Body,” she notes, is a work wholly contrasting in tone and conception to last year’s foreign-lingo Oscar winner “Ida” by Pawel Pawlikowski.

The helmer-scribe made “Body” through her Warsaw-based Nowhere shingle, winning the director trophy at this year’s Berlinale and building on the dark, offbeat ethic she developed in earlier work such as 2011’s “Elles” and 2013’s “In the Name Of.”

She is hopeful for the pic’s path in the U.S., where it’s seeking distribution, but concedes that “11 Minutes,” with its fall heat from Venice, may look “more fresh” to Toronto critics and audiences, possibly propelling worldwide sales.

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