Gdynia for Children. Operation: Adaptation at the 48th PFF

Gdynia for Children. Operation: Adaptation at the 48<sup>th</sup> PFF

Kaytek the Wizard by Magdalena Łazarkiewicz, The Travelling Dog by Magdalena Nieć or The Two Who Stole the Moon by Leszek Gałysz – it’s just a taste of what’s included in this year’s Gdynia for Children programme. Organised by the Polish Filmmakers Association, Gdynia for Children has been a part of Polish Film Festival for almost 20 years.

Gdynia for Children is an exceptionally gratifying part of the festival with its lively but demanding audience. Polish children’s and youth films are currently in their prime. I’m glad we’re showing not only the best productions of the past season but also brand new premieres in Gdynia. For the second time in festival’s history we’re awarding the young audience’s award: Janusz Korczak Golden Lion Cubs. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for both creators and audience. The competition will be fierce! – says Joanna Łapińska, artistic director of the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia.

And there is plenty to choose from during the afternoon screenings in Helios cinema: Anna Błaszczyk’s Hug Me. The Honey Seekers, Magdalena Nieć’s The Travelling Dog, Magdalena Łazarkiewicz’s Kaytek the Wizard, Jan Bubeničk and Denisa Grimmova’s Even Mice Belong in Heaven and Piotrs Stasik’s Film for Aliens. The audience will vote for the best film to receive the Golden Lion Cubs Award at the Young Gala.

In the beginning, was the word – a book, a short story or a poem. Literature is a fantastic medium for children’s and youth films. After years of crisis, Polish cinema for the young audience enjoys a renaissance, boldly taking inspiration from literary heritage. Organised by the Polish Filmmakers Association, Gdynia for Children at the 48th Polish Film Festival is entirely dedicated to feature and animated adaptations of Polish novels, short stories, poems, and comic books for young readers.

I can see that the interest in Gdynia’s edition of Polish Cinema of the Young Viewer grows bigger year after year. I have no doubts that this year’s Gdynia for Children will be just as popular with the young audience. I’m glad we’ll be able to explore the fascinating history of children book’s adaptations together. Film and literature for the youngest audience have always attracted and permeated each other, since they’re made of the very same material – children’s wonder and imagination – says Waldemar Szarek, director and chairman of the PFA’s Children’s and Youth Film Producers Club.

While filmmakers and publishers debate how to introduce “adult” literature to Polish cinema, children’s and youth film authors have been adapting prose and poetry for a long time. When the film for the young audience slowly started to recover from years of decline after the creation of the Polish Film Institute, rich and popular literary heritage proved to be the best source material.

This year, Gdynia for Children presents the best and the latest achievements in this corner of cinema. To begin with, on the stunning Large Stage of the Musical Theatre, we will see two special premiers and long-awaited adaptations for the youth: Kaytek the Wizard, a film based on the famous novel by Janusz Korczak, and The Travelling Dog directed by Magdalena Nieć, a film inspired by the short story by Roman Pisarski. One wonders if the story about the heroic pet is a bigger tearjerker than the ending of The Paul Street Boys.

Czech-Slovak-Polish-French animation for the youngest Even Mice Belong in Heaven is one of the most successful European children’s films, nominated for the European Film Award, César Award, and Czech Lion Award – with magnificent Polish puppets. Finnish-Polish The Exploits of Moominpappa remind us that Polish animation about the lovely trolls was very dear to Tove Jansson’s heart. For dessert, we serve a popular animation directed by Anna Błaszczyk in 2022, Hug Me. The Honey Seekers.

Traditionally, full-length films are accompanied by shorts for the youngest audience. Kitty Kotty Says: Hello! is one of the blockbusters of 2023. It’s been years since Polish animation for the youngest audience topped the box office, gathering nearly 300 000 people in cinemas. Another recently released title in the programme is Asiunia by Tamás Ducki. We all remember Joanna Papuzińska’s short story Nasza mama czarodziejka from school. The famous author is the main character in this touching film about the fate of a child at the time of war. Full of twists and turns, Mr Practical, directed by Michał Poniedzielski and Dominik Litwiniak, on the other hand, is an animation about an orderly and efficient employee and citizen whose life slips out of control because of a cat.

For years, Poznan-based Animated Films TV Studio has been making beautiful, auteur adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales: The Flax, It’s Quite True! and Ole-Luk-Oie directed by Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz. The studio develops the series Polish Fairy Tales, comprising such shorts as Alexander Fredro’s The Monkey Bath directed by Andrzej Gosieniecki as well as the popular series about blue Fantazy the Bear, also screened in this year’s Gdynia for Children.

The youngest audience members will also watch selected episodes of Aggie, Odo and Florka’s Diary – a series popular in the last decade. The new releases will be sprinkled with a few classics, with Stanisław Raczyński and Lechosław Marszałek’s Locomotive by the Animated Films Studio in Bielsko-Biała. What would be Polish children’s literature without the most famous poem by Julian Tuwim? In 2023, seventy-five years passed since Leszek Gałysz was born. By showing his films to the youngest audience, Polish Film Festival pays the most beautiful tribute to this director of animated films who passed away prematurely. Children will see the animated adaptation of Kornel Makuszyński’s The Two Who Stole the Moon with music by Lady Pank (very hip), an episode of the series 2 Cats + 1 Dog, and one of Gałysz’s last films, A Fisherman at the Bottom of the Sea released in 2011. Leszek Gałysz is one of the originators of this section, who much-contributed to Gdynia for Children over the years. In 2024, we will celebrate its twentieth anniversary.



The nominees for the Janusz Korczak Golden Lion Cubs are:

Kaytek the Wizard, directed by: Magdalena Łazarkiewicz

The Travelling Dog, directed by: Magdalena Nieć

Hug Me. The Honey Seekers, directed by: Anna Błaszczyk

Even Mice Belong in Heaven, directed by: Denisa Grimmova, Jan Bubenicek

Film for Aliens, directed by: Piotr Stasik