×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Ida’s’ Oscar Inspires Poland’s Next-Gen Filmmakers

The creative juices of the Polish film industry have been stirred by the foreign-language film Oscar win of Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” (pictured), as well as short doc nods for “Joanna” and “Our Curse.” As the Polish Film Institute caps its first decade of existence, it can speak of a measurable success in each of its initial goals: increasing domestic production, improving quality of the films and boosting box office sales for Polish films both at home and abroad.

With many eyes directed now at the Polish scene (as well as with many international producers seeking co-production opportunities), it’s becoming clear that there are strong new Polish voices to reckon with. Some, such as Malgorzata Szumowska (in her Silver Bear-winning “Body”) and Grzegorz Jaroszuk (in his quirky satire “Kebab & Horoscope”) prefer to deal with contemporary subjects, while others plunge head-first into Poland’s troubled 20th century history (Jan Komasa’s “Warsaw ’44,” a willfully Spielbergian epic of the failed anti-German uprising, being the best example).

It seems Poland may be in for yet another interesting year with several productions already drawing attention of audiences and festival programmers. Most of the anticipated films are highly idiosyncratic projects by young helmers, each asserting their  own unique sensibility.

Popular on Variety

Especially notable are two parallel features by Kuba Czekaj, whose “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Room” has been one of the most praised shorts of 2009. Now, the 30-year-old Czekaj is finishing “The Erlprince,” a rumination on a young physics prodigy and his troubled relationship with his mother, and “Baby Bump” (which was selected for Venice’s Biennale College — Cinema last year and will premiere at the festival this year), in which he tackles the subject of puberty in a way both daring and imaginative.

Equally original is Agnieszka Smoczynska’s “The Lure,” described by its writer-director as “a musical horror story (about) two mermaids ending up in the midst of the vibrant, glittering, neon-lit world of Warsaw dance clubs of the 1980s.”

Marcin Wrona’s “Demon,” on the other hand, reworks an ancient Jewish legend of the undead spirit Dybbuk as a modern thriller of repressed trauma, starring Israeli actor Itay Tiran (“Lebanon”). .

Boldly plunging into philosophical horror is writer-director Adrian Panek in “The Wolfman,” a take on “Lord of the Flies”-like dynamics among a group of kids traumatized by war and fighting the titular creature in a post-Holocaust setting. “It’s a story of contamination by pure evil; of human form being lost and regained,” says the helmer, whose freshman feature “Daas” caused quite a stir in 2011 with its highly unorthodox depiction of Polish 18th century that was as visually arresting as it was narratively oblique.

The most intriguing project may be “A Singing Napkin,” an omnibus film made by Mariusz Grzegorzek, the current dean of Lodz Film School, as an experimental graduation project for the students of the school’s acting program. Four very different stories were developed by the students themselves, providing a great showcase for their acting talent. The final segment, loosely based on a Greek fairy tale that gives the film its title, is visually stunning and all but out-does Julie Taymor in inventive approach to art direction and costume. With all these and many more new titles nearing production or post-production (Bartosz Prokopowicz’s highly personal “Chemo” among them), it’s safe to say we may expect a steady festival presence from young Polish filmmakers in the year to come.

Michal Oleszczyk is the artistic director of Gdynia Film Festival. He also writes for RogerEbert.com, Cineaste and Slant Magazine.

More Film

  • Luc Besson EuropaCorp Searching for Hit

    EuropaCorp Posts a 50% Drop in Revenues in Half-Year Results

    While it’s finalising its bailout deal with its lender Vine Alternative Investments, Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp posted a 50% drop in revenues to €40.7 million during the first half of the financial year 2019-2020 which ended Sept. 30. The company explained that revenues had dropped compared with the first semester of the last fiscal year because [...]

  • Richard Jewell Olivia Wilde

    'Richard Jewell': Kathy Scruggs' Roommate, Family Angered by Journalist's Portrayal

    Penny Furr was Kathy Scruggs’ roommate when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter got a major scoop involving the investigation into the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Scruggs had discovered that Richard Jewell, the security guard who had evacuated the area before the bomb exploded, saving dozens of lives in the process, was a suspect in the attack. [...]

  • Alexandre Desplat

    Alexandre Desplat Combines Mozart and Bowie for Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' Score

    There have been multiple film and TV versions of “Little Women.” But composer Alexandre Desplat and writer-director Greta Gerwig had a non-traditional idea for Sony’s 2019 version: “We wanted the music to be a duet of Mozart and Bowie,” Desplat laughs. There are no rock music touches in the score, but there is a modern [...]

  • Clarence Thomas

    Film News Roundup: Clarence Thomas Documentary to Get Theatrical Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Clarence Thomas documentary and “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” are getting theatrical releases, and Lionsgate is developing a Rabbids movie. RELEASE DATES Manifold Productions has slated “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” to open in theaters nationwide on Jan. 31, Variety has learned exclusively. Popular on Variety The [...]

  • Danny Aiello Do the Right Thing

    Danny Aiello: Spike Lee, Mia Farrow, Cher and More Remember ‘Do the Right Thing’ Actor

    Following the news that character actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night, friends and peers of the “Moonstruck” actor shared their remembrances via social media. Aiello — whose body of work included Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “The Godfather Part II” and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” music [...]

  • Willem Dafoe The Lighthouse

    Willem Dafoe on Early Film Roles, Working With Robert Eggers on 'The Lighthouse'

    A four-time Academy Award nominee, Willem Dafoe developed his cinematic charisma — seen in films like “The Florida Project” and “At Eternity’s Gate” — in his early career in theater. After studying drama at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dafoe moved to New York in 1976 and joined what would eventually become The Wooster Group. His [...]

  • Theodore Shapiro Music Composer

    How Music Illustrates the Shifting Dynamics in 'Bombshell'

    What stands out about Theodore Shapiro’s score for “Bombshell” is that the music isn’t frantic despite being set in a fast-paced environment — Roger Ailes’ newsroom at Fox News. Instead, the score straddles two worlds: that of Ailes and that of the women who worked for him.  “[Director] Jay [Roach] and I talked about finding [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content