48th PFF Gdynia for Children. Operation: Adaptation

Consulate of Culture

48th PFF Gdynia for Children. Operation: Adaptation

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.

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: Magdalena Łazarkiewicz’s 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, Poznań-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.

Anna Wróblewska