Polish Film Institute Helps Filmmakers Navigate Global Campaigns

With a dizzying number of film fests operating throughout the year and more launching all the time, navigating the optimal path to success abroad is a greater challenge than ever, as the Polish Film Institute’s Izabela Kiszka-Hoflik knows well.

Charged with the org’s substantial foreign fest support role, she oversees the investment of some $2.8 million annually to support the promotion of Polish films internationally, sending local pics and filmmakers around the world.

Kiszka-Hoflik also coordinates campaigns for the major worldwide awards, including top international festivals, and in the races for the Oscars, the European Film Awards and the U.K.’s Bafta.

Help for fund-challenged Polish producers, who are often short-handed or short of experience with international marketing campaigns, covers everything from travel expenses, translation and creating film prints and DCPs, to posters, Web design and appointing press agents.

The process proved its merits during the 2014 Oscar campaign for Pawel Pawlikowski’s critically acclaimed arthouse hit “Ida” (pictured). That film, which won the foreign-language Academy Award, began its run at the Telluride fest in 2013.

Popular on Variety

As Kiszka-Hoflik says of the publicity push, “It’s very important as it gives visibility and also a constant presence in the market.” That’s a factor particularly crucial for Polish films breaking into the U.S. territory, she points out.

“I truly believe that ‘Ida’s’ success is also due to the previous Oscar campaigns we led,” she says. Those included a strong presence for Polish films with the highest chance of crossover success in Hollywood, including Oscar noms for “Katyn,” Andrzej Wajda’s drama, and the Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness.”

Warsaw-based producer Joanna Solecka of the Wajda School says PFI help is “crucial” and can cover 90% of the costs of pushing a film through the A-category fests. “For many films, especially debuts or coming from emerging producers, this is really important help,” she says.

The costs of such campaigns “double the production costs” of smaller, but promising films, Solecka points out. “Without PFI, the professional Oscar campaigns would not be possible,” she says.

PFI does important matchmaking on the international level, not only at big film festivals and markets, but also investing in events and inviting film professionals to Poland, such as the Polish Days at Wroclaw’s New Horizons fest.

Other Polish fests have also embraced events from their counterparts abroad to help local producers and helmers connect and extend their reach.

The Torino Film Lab’s third edition at the Gdynia fest this year is a case in point, says Kiszka-Hoflik, as is the growing influence of the Wroclaw-based School of Film Agents, now in its third year of seeking out and mentoring up-and-coming film professionals in Eastern and Central Europe.

Young Polish producers have also turned a corner, she adds, with many from the busiest productions shingles, such as Otter Films, Alter Ego Pictures and Koi Studio, having been trained abroad and advanced through proven European training programs such as European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs.

More Film

  • Time's Up U.K. Teams With British

    British Stars Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel Compile 'Alternative BAFTA' Nominees List

    British stars including Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel and Gemma Arterton have contributed to an ‘Alternative BAFTAs’ list of nominees that honors talent overlooked by this year’s awards. The campaign is organized by Time’s Up U.K., which is rolling out a social media blitz this week in the lead-up to Sunday’s BAFTA awards honoring the women [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    'The Night House': Film Review

    A knack for creepy atmospherics and individual scares goes a long way in the horror genre, and it takes “The Night House” pretty far. Though this tale of a new widow’s apparent haunting gets progressively lost in a narrative maze that’s complicated without being particularly rewarding, . Rebecca Hall plays Beth, an upstate New York [...]

  • Herself

    Amazon Studios Buys Phyllida Lloyd's 'Herself' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has nabbed North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself,” an Irish drama about a woman who builds her dream house after escaping an abusive marriage, Variety has learned.  The streaming service is planning a theatrical release for later this year. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where it enjoyed a warm [...]

  • Blast Beat

    'Blast Beat': Film Review

    Back home in Bogota, teen brothers Carly and Mateo — played by siblings (and Disney Channel veterans) Mateo and Moisés Arias — are metal-blasting, skateboard-riding punks, and reluctant partners in crime. Carly, the sensible one, can’t prevent Mateo from dynamiting a dollhouse. But he’ll swoop in, hair flapping like a vampire’s cape, to rescue his [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    Rebecca Hall's 'The Night House' Sells to Searchlight Out of Sundance

    Searchlight Pictures is closing in on the worldwide distribution rights to “The Night House,” a supernatural thriller that premiered to strong reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, insiders close to the deal said. Directed by David Bruckner and starring Rebecca Hall, the deal is reportedly valued at roughly $12 million. It marks the first [...]

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell in

    'Downhill': Film Review

    Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are a prosperous American couple who’ve taken their two sons on a ski vacation to the Alps. Are they having fun yet? That’s a question that hovers over the movie, as the family members hit the slopes and make pilgrimages to the alpine-lodge restaurant, or retire to their [...]

  • Joe Keery appears in Spree by

    'Spree': Film Review

    It didn’t seem like there was a large portion of the movie-going population who felt that Todd Phillips’ “Joker” was too subtle, in either its commentary on the modern era of those who are involuntarily celibate, or its homage-like appropriation of classic Martin Scorsese movies. But maybe writer-director-producer Eugene Kotlyarenko has other information, since that’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content