When production began on “Sweat,” Magnus von Horn’s follow-up to his Cannes Directors’ Fortnight player “The Here After,” no one could have predicted how prescient the film would be. As the world grapples with a protracted lockdown that’s pushed more and more of our lives online, the story of a Polish fitness instructor and social media celebrity searching for real-world intimacy feels especially timely.
“‘Sweat’ wants to embrace everything in this modern world that we otherwise love to hate, and I think that makes it unique,” says producer Mariusz Włodarski of Lava Films.
“Sweat” is one of 56 films that will receive a Cannes 2020 label as part of this year’s Official Selection. New Europe Film Sales is handling world sales. Włodarski will present the film during the Cannes virtual market, along with “Wonder Zenia,” a new feature from Małgorzata Szumowska being sold by the Match Factory, as he and other producers search for an understanding of “how we can position ourselves in a digital world.”
The two films are part of a strong slate from Polish producers in Cannes. Watchout Studio (“The Coldest Game”) will present “Prime Time,” the directorial debut of Jakub Piątek. The thriller stars Bartosz Bielenia, fresh off his breakout role in Jan Komasa’s Oscar-nominated “Corpus Christi,” as a young man who takes a TV studio hostage. “[‘Prime Time’] confronts the audience with questions: If you could shout something to the world, what would you say? What would you rebel against?” says Watchout’s Kuba Razowski.
Madants (“High Life”) will introduce “Tracking Satyrs,” a modern adaptation of a fable written by Sophocles, directed by Maciej and Michał Mądracki and Gilles Lepore. Mañana will present Kasia Rosłaniec’s “Salt Lake,” about a woman in her 60s who emancipates herself from her traditional roles as mother and wife.
“It is a universal story of complex relations between mature people with a very positive spin to it,” says producer Piotr Kobus. Mañana is also presenting the documentary “Walk With Angels,” Tomasz Wysokiński’s timely South Africa-lensed portrait of the destructive consequences of institutionalized racism.
Five projects will also take part in New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes, the Cannes Market’s pics-in-post showcase supported by the New Horizons Film Festival. Three of the five are first features, including “Everyone Has a Summer,” Tomasz Jurkiewicz’s story of a relationship between a boy and a rebellious girl who works at a religious camp; “The Moths,” a “survival opera” by Piotr Stasik about a group of boys who flee gaming camp after the counselors take their computers and switch off their internet access; and “The Horse Tail,” Justyna Łuczaj-Salej’s tale of the impossible love that blooms in a remote town where people form incestuous relationships and hold painful secrets.
Also taking part are “Wika!,” director Agnieszka Zwiefka’s documentary about the oldest DJ in Poland, an 81-year-old woman who tries to hold onto her dignity and joy until the very end; and Jacek Bławut’s “The Last Mission,” a period drama about the crew of a submarine struggling in the darkness against an invisible enemy, claustrophobia, fatigue, and their own mistakes and failures.
Weronika Czołnowska, New Horizons’ head of industry, says the selection aims “to present as broad a spectrum of Polish films as possible” while encouraging “courageous, daring, sometimes provocative author voices.”