Six films in the Polonica section at the 40th GFF

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Polonica is one of the oldest sections of the Gdynia Film Festival. Its aim is to draw attention to the activity of the Polish filmmakers outside of the country. The section presents international productions from various parts of the world whose common ground is the participation of the Polish filmmakers. According to the Artistic Director of the Festival, Michał Oleszczyk, “This section allows for realising the annual contribution of the Polish filmmakers into international production. Of course, we do not show everything but even a selection gives an idea of the multitude of talents of our cinema artists as well as of the universal nature of Polish cultural traits.”

We will present the famous film “Difret” (dir. Zeresenay Mehari) edited by Agnieszka Glińska, with Monika Lenczewska as a brilliant director of cinematography. Another production is “The Cut” with art direction by Allan Starski. “The vanquishing of the witch Baba Yaga” (dir. by Jessica Oreck) is a film made partially in Poland, and “They Chased Me Through Arizona” (dir. by Matthias Huser) is a Polish and Swiss production with the participation of Polish actors: Eryk Lubos, Krzysztof Kiersznowski, Lech Dyblik and Halina Skoczyńska. In the Polish and French film “Creche-Coeur” by Julia Kowalski, the main male role is played by Andrzej Chyra. The young audience will be able to see the film “Life According to Nino” (dir. by Simone van Dusseldorp) written by Urszula Antoniak. The director and screenwriter will also participate in the debate “The Cinema for Children in Poland Today – Successes and Perspectives”.

“Life According to Nino”
is one of the most awaited special screenings of the Festival – mainly due to Urszula Antoniak, who surprised the viewer with her new role – a screenwriter of the film for young adults. The New Horizons Association is the film distributor and its official premiere will be held during this year’s Films for Kids Film Festival which will be held in 17 cities from 26th September to 4th October 2015.

After his mother’s death the eight-year-old Nino stops going to school and showering, and he eats chips for breakfast. In the beginning it seems it is great fun but Nino soon concludes that he lacks the attention and feelings of his father and brother. When he discovers that he can speak with animals, he gets down to ordering things together with Bobby the rabbit.

Another event will be the screening of the famous Ethiopian and American film “Difret” which received prizes at, among others, Berlinale, Camerimage and in Sundance. The film was edited by Agnieszka Glińska and Monika Lenczewska is the director of cinematography. The film in a moving manner touches upon the topic of the violence against and brutal abuse of children. In Addis Abeba, a female lawyer founds a network providing poor women and children with legal representation free of charge. It is an act of courage – in this way, she risks being persecuted by the police and politicians. However, the real ordeal turns out to be the defence of the 14-year-old girl called Hirut who gets kidnapped and raped while going home from school. When fighting with the persecutors, she kills in self-defence. Yet a harder challenge appears: facing the cruel tradition of kidnapping and raping girls as a way to custom-forced marriage…

“The Cut” with art direction by Allan Starski is a multilateral co-production from 2014 with as many as six countries participating: Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Canada, Turkey. The plot is set in Mardin, in 1915. One night, the Turkish police round up all the Armenian men in the city, including the young blacksmith, Nazaret Manoogian, who is separated from his family. Years later, after managing to survive the horrors of the genocide, he hears that his two daughters are also still alive. He starts searching for them: from the Mesopotamian deserts and Havana to the barren and desolate prairies of North Dakota. He encounters a range of very different people on his way: angelic and kind-hearted characters, but also the devil incarnate.

“The vanquishing of the witch Baba Yaga” is an unusual American-Polish-Russian-Ukrainian co-production. Jessica Oreck’s strange and beguiling film, one of the highlights of MoMA’s New Directors/New Films 2014, combines Eastern European storybook animation with documentary and fiction elements to recount the Slavic fable of the witch Baba Yaga, a frightful character living in a woodland hut perched on chicken legs. Oreck is fascinated by the rituals, superstitions, and fables of diverse subcultures. In the case of Baba Yaga, Oreck focuses especially on the contemporary relevance of childhood stories to war and social upheaval.

The “Crache-Coeur” director, Julia Kowalski, was born in France in 1979. Her parents are Polish. The film is her feature-length debut. It is a French and Polish co-production, supported by the Polish Filmmakers Association, whose Polish producer is the Donten & Lacroix Films company. The film protagonist, Rose, a teenage girl growing up without a mother in the French countryside, senses that only now is the time she will be able to allow herself to rebel and rage. She struggles with extreme emotions and fights her own innocence. The Polish origin of her father has nothing to do with this. Childhood is irreversibly gone. Rose finds a way to build a relationship with a boy. She makes use of the situation – a Pole employed by her father (Andrzej Chyra) has got a son whom he abandoned in the past and with whom he wishes to restore the family bonds. The girl walks right into the middle of an emotional puzzle between the father and the son…

“They Chased Me Through Arizona” is a feature-length debut of Matthias Huser with Krzysztof Kiersznowski, Eryk Lubos and Halina Skoczyńska in the main roles. The film shows a situation where the analogue age is over. There is one more thing still. All phone booths need to be dismantled. A taciturn introvert, Leonard (Krzysztof Kiersznowski), and a crazy driver, Ben (Eryk Lubos), both set out on a journey reaching the end of an era. It is a film about the lack of communication among people who are close to one another, about how much it hurts and the almost physical powerlessness in establishing contact with another human being. At the same time it is a story about trying to build relationships without which life is empty and barren, like the place where the protagonists live in.

The Polonica screenings will be accompanied by meetings with the filmmakers. All the screenings will be held in the Gdynia Film Centre and in Multikino.

Phot. “Difret”, dir. Zeresenay Mehari