Gdynia for Children
Welcome to our story!
The theme of this year’s edition of Gdynia for Children is music. The section features film composers: Andrzej Korzyński (Mr Blot’s Academy), Krzesimir Dębski (In Desert and Wilderness) and Michał Lorenc (Ptaszka) accompanied by none others than Rex the Composer, famous A Little Quartet under the baton of the late Jerzy “Duduś” Matuszkiewicz and Bulandra and the Devil quarrelling to the rhythm of Krzysztof Penderecki’s music.
Polish film, youth film is no exception, has always attracted magnificent composers from the realm of classical music as well as jazz, rock and pop. The programme of this year’s Gdynia for Children includes films with the compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki, Jerzy “Duduś” Matuszkiewicz, Waldemar Kazanecki, Czesław Niemen, Marek Wilczyński and Andrzej Sikorowski, with the master trio Krzesimir Dębski, Michał Lorenc and Andrzej Korzyński in the lead role.
Dębski is a true Renaissance man composing both classical music and all sorts of modern genera, like jazz, pop, rock or even sung poetry. This unconventional figure, starting with his name, writes, arranges, conducts, plays the violin, produces, records and concerts. The story has it that his parents waited six months for the Council of State to approve his name (the composer still has in his private archive the written approval to use it signed by Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz). Dębski is notorious for… unusual behaviour. One day, he abandoned the piano and climbed Kilimanjaro… Gdynia for Children is an opportunity to listen to his score for Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Sienkiewicz’s novel, In Desert and Wilderness (2001).
Lorenc, exceptionally successful in combining symphonies with ethno sounds, creates extremely expressive music full of emotions, often strictly rhythmical and grounded in suggestive melodic motifs. This hard-working and versatile composer collaborates not only with Polish artists but also with filmmakers from the Czech Republic, United Kingdom and the USA. When he’s not composing, he writes… children’s books. During Gdynia for Children, you can hear Lorenc’s music in Krystyna Krupska-Wysocka’s Ptaszka (1996), a compelling story about a lonely man struggling to take care of his three children and keep his daytime job.
Korzyński is doubtlessly one of the most versatile and hard-working composers. Apart from songs, he also writes instrumental, ballet, radio, film and theatre music. There are over a hundred and twenty titles to his credit. Nearly fifty films and TV series feature his songs. Korzyński’s soundtrack to Krzysztof Gradowski’s Mr Blot’s Academy (1983), with such hits as Witajcie w naszej bajce [Welcome to Our Story], Kaczka dziwaczka [The Eccentric Duck] and Na wyspach Bergamutach [On the Bergamuty Islands], is the most popular record with Polish film music. You can hear it during this year’s Gdynia for Children. We will also screen Gradowski’s more recent film with Korzyński’s music, Mr Blot’s Triumph (2001).
The films selected for this year’s review have one thing in common: a huge load of positive energy we all so desperately need in these tough, pandemic days. But there’s a tint of sadness as well. In recent months, two masters of young cinema passed away. Last year, on 9th June, we lost Krystyna Krupska-Wysocka, the director of unforgettable Skutki noszenia kapelusza w maju [Consequences of Wearing a Hat in May] and Żuraw i czapla [Crane and Heron]. A year later, on 22nd June, died Krzysztof Gradowski, the father of filmic Mr Blot. Their legacy brought them many prestigious awards, but above all, the love of the young and older audience. Thus, we would like to invite you to Mrs Krupska-Wysocka and Mr Gradowski’s Academy:
“Welcome to our story / The smile is mandatory / When Pinocchio sings a song / The trees will dance along / Let us lift your moods / Let’s go into the woods / Through the oaks and pines with a merry gait / Where adventures await…”.
Gdynia for Children is organised by the Polish Filmmakers Association, in co-operation with the Pomeranian Film Foundation. The programme is co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. The Honorary Patron of the review is UNICEF Poland – a humanitarian organisation working for children.
(age group: kindergarten) – length 50 minutes
- MAGNIFYING GLASS (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Robert Turło, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy hates to be bored. It’s raining, and he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Dad is sorting out his collection of stamps and suggests that Tommy look at them through a magnifying glass. Tommy finds the magnifying glass a great tool for other observations, too. In the end, he decides to take the magnifying glass to the kindergarten to take a look at the hole left by a pulled tooth that Johnny promised to show him. That would be something!
- MAYUMI (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Paweł Prewencki, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy likes to play in a sandbox. He doesn’t notice when a little girl next to him starts to make mud pies. Her name is Mayumi, she’s from China, and she doesn’t speak Polish. Tommy looks at Mayumi and sees that she looks a bit different from the girls from the kindergarten. Tommy is delighted that Mayumi keeps smiling and is very polite. He decides to teach her Polish.
- GLASSES (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Paweł Czarzasty, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy likes it when something unusual happens in the kindergarten. When his friend Jake comes in wearing glasses, they immediately become the object of interest and envy of all the children, who pass the glasses from hand to hand. The case, however, is of special interest because you can do many fantastic things with it.
- ELDER BROTHER (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Paweł Prewencki, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy would really like to have an elder brother just like Johnny, his friend from kindergarten. He likes it when Sebastian says to Johnny “Dope!” or “See ya!” and walks him to the kindergarten. When Tommy returns home, he confides in Dad that he would like to have an elder brother. Amused, Dad tries to explain that such a brother would have to be born much earlier, but Tommy is not convinced.
- WASP (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Paweł Prewencki, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy doesn’t like wasps. One flies in through the kindergarten window, causing a huge commotion. Boys try to count how many legs it has, and girls love the wasp’s fluffy body. The Teacher in the kindergarten struggles to control the chaos. To top it all off, Tommy’s Mum is late to pick him up, and she is as angry as a wasp that day.
- HOLIDAY (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Ewelina Stefańska, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy likes it when something special happens in the kindergarten. On that day, boys find out that it’s Girls’Day, and they have to make some cards for them. Tommy decides to paint a dragon with three heads. He is a bit surprised when Grandma sees her garden in the picture, the Teacher praises him for the beautiful bouquet, and Anna likes the super football team on the green turf.
- SKIS (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Paweł Prewencki, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy likes skiing very much, even though it’s the first time Dad has taken him to the slopes. Tommy patiently listens to his instructions, but every attempt to ski downhill ends rather badly for him. Dad decides to show Tommy how a champion rides. In the end, Tommy holds on to Dad’s poles, but only until he sees a girl of his age skiing next to them.
- HAIRDRESSER (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Ewelina Stefańska, 5 min / TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy really doesn’t like going to the hairdresser’s, even though until now his Mum used to cut his hair. One day, Mum decides to take Tommy to the hairdresser. Tommy is not convinced, but he likes the salon very much. The Hairdresser cuts his hair and praises him for being a very polite customer. Tommy sees his new haircut in the mirror and insists that he will not go to the kindergarten until his hair grows back.
- TATTOO (series: Stories from the Sandbox), dir. Ewelina Stefańska, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy likes riding the tram because usually, much more interesting things happen inside than outside. That day, Tommy sees a Boy with a tattoo and a Girl with a navel piercing. He can’t take his eyes off of them. He admires the Boy’s dreadlocks and the Girl’s blue nails. He asks Mum if she or Grandma could have such nails and if he could have dreadlocks and a dragon on his arm.
- TEETH (series: Stories from the Sandbox), Ewelina Stefańska, 5 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
Tommy hates brushing his teeth. Either the toothpaste stings his tongue or he’s still sleepy because it’s morning or already sleepy because it’s evening. Dad shows him how best to brush his teeth, but Tommy has a few counterarguments of his own for each of Dad’s arguments. He claims that his teeth don’t lack anything and that the cat doesn’t brush its teeth, and it’s not a problem.
(age group: 1st-3rd grade) – length 52 minutes
- THE MONKEY’S BATH (series: Polish Fairy Tales), dir. Andrzej Gosieniecki, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2017
The Monkey’s Bath proves that a leopard can’t change its spots and thoughtless imitation of others always leads to humiliation. Penned by Aleksander Fredro, a funny and wise story about a monkey that, despite all attempts to become like a man, always remains itself.
- JOHNNY AND TOMMY (series: Polish Fairy Tales), dir. Andrzej Gosieniecki, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2017
Johnny and Tommy is a funny story inspired by a classic tale by Aleksander Fredro about two neighbours with completely different tempers. A timeless and complex parody of neighbourly relations and a confirmation that you reap what you sow.
- COBBLER KOPYTKO AND DUCK QUACK (series: Polish Fairy Tales), dir. Andrzej Gosieniecki, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2017
Little Cobbler Kopytko is the apprentice of Szymon Dratwa. However, work is the last thing on his mind, and he’d rather play tricks, like nailing the heels to the front of the shoes, putting a crayfish in someone’s pocket or using his sling to shoot so high that he knocks out one of the Moon’s teeth. Szymon Dratwa can’t stand it anymore and flees to America. Cobbler Kopytko has no choice but to set off on his own journey. On a crossroads, he meets Duck Quack, a prankster just like him. From now on, they walk together, pulling pranks so good that people run away from them.
- THE TAILOR THREAD (series: Polish Fairy Tales), dir. Anna Dudek, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2017
In the little town of Trajdarajda lives Tailor Thread. One day, a Gypsy Woman foretells him that he will become a king, so Tailor Thread sets off to meet his fate. On his way, he runs into Scarecrow, and they decide to travel together. Eventually, they arrive in a city of eternal rain. The Princess promised her hand and her kingdom to whoever averts the disaster.
(age group: 1st-3rd grade) – length 52 minutes
- THE FLAX, dir. Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2005
A film painted on canvas spread directly underneath the camera. A beautiful, poetic and exceedingly subtle children’s story about the joy of discovering the world and oneself and the difficult art of accepting life in all its manifestations. This metaphoric tale of flax – its planting, growing, blooming, maturing and harvesting followed by its transformation, first into linen, then into paper, and, eventually, into ashes, sends a philosophical message about passing.
- IT’S QUITE TRUE!, dir. Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2014
An adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s funny and quite authentic story of a certain rumour. Gossips have always been an issue, especially now, in the era of audio-visual media, tabloids and the Internet. The tale is set in the suburbs of Hen Town. The rumour has it that a respectable hen has lost one small feather. The news passed on from lips to lips, or rather from beak to beak, transforms into a “dramatic” account of five hens who died of love to a cock.
- OLE-LUK-OIE, dir. Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2021
This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale depicts a magical journey into the realm of sleep and imagination painted on canvas spread directly underneath the camera. An attempt to tame the phenomenon of dreams and children’s (but not only) fear of night and death. Ole invites Hjalmar on a journey through his dreams. One day, he introduces the boy to his brother, who comes to everyone only once.
- MIŁEK FROM THE BLACK FOREST, dir. Ewelina Stefańska, 13 min, TV Studio Filmów Animowanych, 2017
A story about the difficult art of accepting someone from outside our own, familiar and closed world. A little red-haired creature called Miłek escapes from captivity and finds it hard to trust someone, but inhabitants of the Black Forest feel safe in their own company and treat every stranger as an intruder. Still, guided by empathy, they give Miłek a chance. And so begins Miłek’s story of mutual understanding, of seeking and finding not only friends but also first love.
(age group: kindergarten) – length 63 minutes
- Rex the Composer (series: Rex), dir. Józef Ćwiertnia, 10 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1979
To celebrate Lavinia the Mare’s birthday, Rex composes a symphony performed by farmyard animals.
- The Horse Thief (series: Bolek and Lolek in the Wild West), dir. Bronisław Zeman, 10 min / Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1972
Jimmy Pif-Paf escapes from jail and steals Lolek’s favourite grey horse. Bolek catches the thief and brings back Lolek’s pony.
- The Ballad of King Piecuch (series: Ballads), dir. Halina Filek, 7 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1977
King Piecuch XII was always cold because he never worked. Once he started doing some physical labour outdoors, he’s been warm ever since.
- Pampalini and the Lion (series: Pampalini the Animal Hunter), dir. Bronisław Zeman 9 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1977
To catch a lion, Pampalini uses a goat and prepares a metal cage. However, when the lion approaches the bait, Pampalini drops the cage onto the goat and nearly falls into the mouth of the king of the jungle himself.
- Bulandra and the Devil, dir. Jerzy Zitzman, Lechosław Marszałek 8 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1959
A film based on Gustaw Morcinek’s short story about a miner who forced the devil to do his work in the mine.
- The Knights of the War-Like Dragon, dir. Wiesław Winek 10 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1987
A capricious princess is upset because there is no real dragon in her castle. She sends out two brave knights to fetch a dragon. The knights have no trouble finding one as they know stories and legends. The beast turns out to be the grandson of the infamous dragon of the Wawel Castle. When the princess offers him the lamb, he flees.
- The Locomotive, dir. Łukasz Słuszkiewicz, 9 min, Studio Filmów Rysunkowych, 1984
Two little boys fascinated with the mysterious world of old locomotives go on an imaginary trip by an old train. They pass cake houses and the witch’s hut, and they almost cause a serious collision.
- A LITTLE QUARTET, dir. Edward Sturlis, 7 min, Poland, 1965 (age group: 4th-6th grade)
When a pianist stops playing and leaves the room, ancient figures holding candelabras on the piano come to life, start jumping on the keys and begin their concert. Despite their antique costumes, the music they play and dance to sounds very modern.
- MR. BLOT’S ACADEMY (part I – The Adventure of Prince Matt, part II – The Secret of Philip the Barber), dir. Krzysztof Gradowski, 85 min, Poland, USSR, 1983 (age group: 4th-6th grade)
10-year-oldAdamNiezgódkamagically transports to Mr. Blot’s Academy, where he participates in unconventional classes, meets characters from fairy tales and visits unusual places. He also learns the secret of Matt the Starling, a prince of a vast kingdom turned into a bird who can regain human form only with the help of Doctor Paj-Chi-Wo’s magic button. Adam promises Matt to find it. Soon, he learns that Philip the Barber, who provides Mr. Blot with freckles, has a secret of his own.
- IN DESERT AND WILDERNESS, dir. Gavin Hood, 111 min, Poland, 2001 (age group: 5th-8th grade)
An adaptation of the last finished novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Nel was inspired by a 10-year-old girl adopted by the author’s friend, and Engineer Tarkowski is a fictional portrayal of Eng. Mieczysław Gieniusz, who worked on the Suez Canal. Gieniusz’s only son was kidnapped by slave traders and never found. Sienkiewicz used his story to write In Desert and Wilderness successfully brought to the silver screen by Gavin Hood.
- TRIPLE TROUBLE, dir. Marta Karwowska, 87 min, Poland, 2020 (age group: 4th-6th grade)
When the gem of the collection – Monet’s Beach in Pourville – goes missing from the National Museum in Poznań, and Julka’s aunt is wrongly accused of the robbery, the children must find the painting and identify the real thief. The great duo start their investigation, but here comes Felka, a crazy 12-year-old, and along with her – trouble. The story about envy and trust intertwines with the mystery crime. Double Trouble 2 is a family film that hammers home the simple truth that you can’t believe in a friend unless you believe in yourself first and that what doesn’t kill the friendship makes it stronger.
- THE LEŚNIEWSKI FAMILY, dir. Janusz Łęski, 89 min, Poland, 1980 (age group: 3rd-6th grade)
The Leśniewski family – mother, father and four children – move into a new apartment. Their life is peaceful until one day, they learn that Mrs Leśniewski dreams about finishing studies she had to quit when she was pregnant. The family wants to help her make this dream come true, so the children take on some household chores and attempt to take better care of themselves. That leads to some funny situations and a few crises. The characters grow up, figure out how to live in a community and learn the value of family and friends.
- PTASZKA, dir. Krystyna Krupska-Wysocka, 72 min, Poland, 1994 (age group: 3rd-6th grade)
A story about Kazimierz Lipecki, a clumsy single father and physical worker, living with his three children in a small town. The children’s mother died in labour, and the youngest daughter, 4-year-old Ptaszka, is not developing normally. When the grandmother, the core of family life, passes away, Kazimierz and the two oldest children, 13-year-old Łukasz and 11-year-old Ula, do whatever it takes to defend the simple, higher values of mutual love and family bonds. But taking care of sick Ptaszka proves to be the biggest challenge.
- MR. BLOT’S TRIUMPH, dir. Krzysztof Gradowski, Joanna Zacharzewska, 72 min, Poland, Ireland, 2001(age group: 4th-6th grade)
A young graphic artist introduces Mr. Blot to the pages of Fantasy World magazine. Together with Adam, they discover the mystery of his parent’s disappearance and Alois Bubble’s new intrigue. Among magical items, there are a few novelties of the digital age.