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49th Krakow Film Festival 29.05-4.6 2009, report by Andrea Pócsik, Hungary, Magyar Filmklubszövetség

Krakow Film Festival is held to be one of the most precious film events in Hungary on one hand since it focuses on documentary filmmaking, on the other hand it gives a broad perspective on Central and Eastern European cinema. Its programming reflects lots of experiences based on a long tradition; its structure serves several demands. International competition involves short documentaries, fiction films and animations. Thus the viewer can form opinion on the features of several genres, and enjoy a colorful selection of different approaches.

Festival - program
All the off competition screenings focus on these three genres, maybe with a stronger stress on documentaries. Thus one can gain a broad film historical overview just as a deep insight into contemporary trends (e.g. selection of prewar documentaries from the Polish Film Institute, Focus on Poland, In the Middle of Europe, etc.).

Work – jury membership
The FICC jury’s task is maybe more difficult than it is in other cases since it can give only one prize and a special mention in a competition where there are three genres present. It also has to take into account (apart from the quality of the films) demands of film club audiences. Based on these criteria we decided to grant a documentary partly because their competition seemed to be the strongest, partly because we found it important to promote this – usually neglected - genre. We gave the Don Quijote Award to Ilian Metev for his film titled Goleshevo based on the following verdict: “The director’s easy approach on this seemingly simple subject gives the audience the opportunity to get involved in the efforts of a disappearing community, sharing with the viewers their irony, strength and life wisdom in a deliberating way.” We gave special mention to the short fiction film titled Leaving, directed by Richard Penfold and Sam Hearn. The reason why we have chosen this film was that it focuses on a crucial social issue, domestic violence which is incredibly difficult to represent because of the psychological problems involved and because of the film’s genric features concerning violence. The solution the filmmakers found serves as a good example of avoiding visual clichés, didactic devices but focusing on the expressive power of human gestures and performances. With the other jury members we had deep and long discussions about all the films we saw together and as a result of persuading each other, finding strong arguments, made the decision above. It was an excellent way of cooperating, adding our own experiences, knowledge to the others’. I found it very easy and amusing to work together with Marta Chwalek and Carl Henrik Eilertsen. (To my opinion it was a good choice to select us three in one jury since we were a good combination of practical and theoretical knowledge, concerning the several genres and origin of films.)

Personal impressions and future plans
I also have to add, that my jury membership was a professionally and personally fruitful experience in many ways. Our Polish hosts, the secretary of the jury, Marta Chwa³ek and Maciej Gil helped us a lot to feel at home in Krakow, trying to find solutions to all sorts of requests. The organizers of the festival gave the guests several opportunities to meet and talk. The interesting discussions with filmmakers and producers made the whole event a vivid and fruitful experience resulting in many different ways of future plans of cooperation, Just to mention a few: in Hungary I am intended to write a report on Krakow Film Festival to a Hungarian film journal, involving also short reviews of a few films, adding an interview made with Marcin Koszalka, the Polish film director. I would also like to motivate some program directors to organize a series of screenings with discussions involving contemporary Polish documentaries, and to help the promotion of some films in Hungary, contacting them with several film events. In sum, the Krakow Film Festival is an excellent opportunity to watch films of high quality on crucial social issues and select them for film societies and non-profit oriented cinemas. Andrea Pócsik, Hungary, Magyar Filmklubszövetség