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San Sebastian’s Focus on Poland Puts Eastern European Biz in Spotlight

A delegation of 10 Polish producers will travel to the San Sebastian Film Festival to take part in the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, which this year selected the eastern European nation for its Focus on program.

For the sixth edition of Focus on, which invites industry professionals from a specific country or territory to the Spanish fest, Polish bizzers will have an opportunity to build professional networks with their counterparts elsewhere in Europe and in Latin America.

“We think Polish film is going through a great moment thanks to a very interesting new generation of filmmakers which we follow closely,” said San Sebastian industry head Esperanza Luffiego, selection committee member Roberto Cueto, and head of foreign press Gemma Beltrán by email.

They noted that the producers invited “have a record of international co-productions,” adding that their presence in the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum is “part of the festival strategy creating an environment for co-productions and fostering cultural diversity and the circulation of films in non-hegemonic languages.”

It’s an auspicious time for the rising Polish industry, which is building on the recent success of artists like Academy Award winner and multiple nominee Paweł Pawlikowski (“Ida,” “Cold War”), as well as the introduction of a 30% cash rebate earlier this year. Polish Film Institute general director Radosław Śmigulski described the incentive scheme as a “game-changer” for the local biz.

“The cash rebate scheme is only a cherry on top of the Polish film industry, which on the one hand has very solid roots in years of tradition and heritage of great artists like Andrzej Wajda, Wojciech J. Has, Andrzej Munk or Jerzy Kawalerowicz, and on the other is currently powered by the energy of contemporary talents like Paweł Pawlikowski, Małgorzata Szumowska, Dorota Kobiela or Jan Komasa,” said Śmigulski. “Poland is a fast developing, hospitable country in the middle of Europe, boasting a variety of superb locations and skilled workforce.”

Polish filmmakers have had a presence in San Sebastian in recent years; since Bartosz Kowalski’s “Playground” bowed at the festival in 2016, 10 Polish productions and co-productions have taken part in different festival sections. This year’s official selection includes Berlin Silver Bear winner Szumowska’s English-language debut, “The Other Lamb” (pictured), while Mauricio Osaki’s Brazil-Poland co-production, “The Paths of My Father,” will screen in rough cut at San Sebastian’s Films in Progress.

The 10 producers taking part in this year’s Focus on Poland are: Łukasz Długołęcki (Nur); Judyta Fibiger (White Shark Studios); Izabela Igel (Harine Films); Aleksandra Maciuszek (New Plot Films); Małgorzata Staroń (Staron Film); Marta Szarzyńska (Kinhouse Studio); Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska (Madants); Karolina Śmigiel (Uni-Solo Studio); Anna Różalska (Match&Spark); and Aneta Zagórska (Krakow Film Klaster).

Launched in 2014, the first two editions of Focus on brought select film professionals from Canada to San Sebastian; subsequent editions have highlighted the Nordic countries and the Baltics.

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