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Cracow film festival, Poland, June 2004, by Ewa Lazaruk, France (English)

The Cracow Film Festival finished on the first of June 2004. This was the 44-th time that this Polish city entertained directors from all over the world who came to show their films and join this important cultural event.
As a member of the international jury of the FICC I could appreciate richness and diversity of the pictures gathered together during the five day festival.

Feature films, documentaries and animations created a complex and interesting vision of modern cinema. The form of short film, which is often thought to be beginning of the artistic path for a young creator, appeared here as a base for creating real works of art. A considerable part of the films treated difficult subjects in an unpretentious and light manner.

There were also motion pictures endowed with subtle esthetics. Among the films chosen for the international competition was an experimental film, such as the Norwegian “Alt I Alt” of Torbjorn Skarild, a symphony of image and sound which was awarded with the Prix UIP Cracow, documentaries concerning several different occurrences of ethnic conflict and also films which presented everyday-life in an original way. There were a few exceptions, lacking maybe professionalism and artistic maturity. However, the general level of the festival was very satisfactory.

Undoubtedly, British cinema dominated in Cracow. The Grand Prix for Andrea Arnold for the film “Wasp”, the prizes awarded to “The House” of Viviene Jones and “Goodbye, Cruel World” of Vito Rocco (a choice which surprised some spectators) as well as “Contamination” of Carl Stevenson, film with an imaginative and poetic force which our jury awarded the Don Quijote Prize. The audience was also interested in Polish films that treated social issues in an uncommon way (for example “Born Dead” of Jacek Blawut or “The Return” of Maciej Adamek), showed during the international competition, even if they lacked a bit of artistic frame and technical precision.

Apart form a diverse repertoire of competition films, the organizers provided a large variety of non-competition motion pictures. There were the excellent documentaries of Albert Maysles (who was awarded a prize for life work), short films from Spain of series untitled “Espana viste en corto” and Russian animations. Unfortunately, such a rich program meant that we could not see a part of screenings.

Cracow’s atmosphere was friendly and warm. Near the entrance and at the “Kijow” cinema terrace the cinematographers, the organizers of cinematographic events and other festival participants entertained themselves as well as with conversations about the Festival’s films and possibilities for the development of independent cinema. These meetings were a good opportunity for young directors to exchange accounts of their experiences and to initiate relations that could result in the larger distribution of their films.

The festival in Cracow is a long tradition and was prepared in a professional way; however, some imperfections appeared. The most surprising was the fact that during the closure ceremony there was no Polish-English interpretation. Most foreign guests were forced to satisfy themselves with the help of their Polish neighbor, or to resign themselves from following the events that evening. The lack of arranged meetings for the participants to socialize was also an inconvenience for this “cinema feast”. As a result, the guests took their own initiative, which was facilitated by their accommodation in the same hotel close to “Kijow” cinema.
FICC Jury (France)