Warsaw. Portrait of a City

Warsaw. Portrait of a City

The 39. Gdynia Film Festival takes place during the celebrations of the 70. anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. Due to that, the organisers decided to honour Warsaw and its film depictions with a special section: “Warsaw. Portrait of a City”.

The viewers will watch films that in various ways pay tribute to the capital of Poland and its inhabitants: “Warsaw Uprising” produced by the Warsaw Rising Museum, the documentary “ Minkowski | Saga” by Rafael Lewandowski and two productions signed by Telewizja Polska: “Postcards from the Republic of the Absurd” by Jan Holoubek and “The New Warsaw” by Bartek Konopka.

An unusual event of the Festival will be an official screening of “Warsaw Uprising”, constituting a unique narrative experiment and at the same time the one of a kind documentary of the courage of those who in 1944 decided to risk everything. The screening (19 September in Multikino) will be honoured with the presence of unusual guests related with the film’s implementation, prepared in cooperation with the Warsaw Rising Museum and its Manager, Jan Ołdakowski.

“Warsaw Uprising” is a first worldwide war non-fiction drama fully edited from documentary materials, treating of the title event through the story of two young reporters, witnesses of the uprising fights. The film uses authentic newsreels from August 1944. Using modern technology of colourisation and reconstruction of audiovisual materials as well as inviting a group of brilliant filmmakers to co-operation, the authors made a project that has no equivalent worldwide.

“Minkowski | Saga“, a documentary film by Rafael Lewandowski, brings closer the figure of the famous French music conductor, Marc Minkowski. The composer discovers in Warsaw a fascinating past of his ancestors, great Polish patriots belonging to the ellite of the Second Polish Republic but now only existent in memories. Immersed in music and history, the film casts new light on the turbulent fates of Jewish families from Central Europe.

The film was produced by Fido Film and Vertigo with the support of Mazowieckie Centrum Kultury i Sztuki, Mazowiecki Fundusz Filmowy, Fundacja Zygmunta Zaleskiego and The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

The Festival viewers will have the opportunity to watch also two new films produced by TVP SA with the participation of the National Audiovisual Institute.

The first of them – a moving musical documentary “The New Warsaw” by Bartosz Konopka had its world premiere at this year’s Kraków Film Festival. The film was inspired with an album “Nowa Warszawa” by Stanisława Celińska, Bartek Wąsik and Royal String Quartet, recorded in 2012. In the unusual film by Bartosz Konopka, chamber concerts of the aklbum take place unannounced in various places of the capital, selected together with Stanisława Celińska. Places that are not obvious but that render the city’s character. The camera watches musicians preparing for their performances, bystanders, interaction between artists and passers-by. The film includes a performance of T.Love’s hit “Warszawa”, the hit “Bal na Gnojnej” and fragments of unusual performance of Stanisława Celińska in the Warsaw Praga. “The New Warsaw” includes also moving tales of Stanisława Celińska about life, acting and the capital.

An unusual proposal is a film bordering on the feature and the documentary: “Postcards from the Republic of the Absurd” by Jan Holoubek. It is an image of the Polish People’s Republic celebrating the 70. anniversary of its existence, captured through a “hidden camera”, an attempt at imagining a Poland which is still a Polish People’s Republic in 2014. The documentary, Orwell-like in its atmosphere, presents a Warsaw whose permanent elements are lines for coupons and with coupons – for elementary products. It is a world in which the time stopped and the Utopian vision of socialism has instilled in the awareness of Poles living with no dreams of a better tomorrow. It is only the youth that still believe in something and try to break the established order. Holoubek’s film has its premiere in TVP 2 on 4 June 2014.

Michał Oleszczyk, the Artistic Director of the Festival, emphasises that the section is especially close to him and that it is his authorship idea: “I have been living in Warsaw for a year and I can honestly state that I have fallen in love with the city – its energy, history and diversity. The year of such an important anniversary of the capital should not pass unnoticed at the Festival, this is why the idea was born to honour it with a section that is as eclectic as Warsaw itself. Rafael Lewandowski’s documentary is in my opinion one of the most important Polish films of the decade and the experiment of “Warsaw Uprising” is genuinely unique. The fact that the last film will have its special, official screening at the Festival is a reason for joy and pride to me.”

Narodowe Centrum Kultury is a co-organiser of the section.