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50th Krakow Film Festival, Poland, 2010.05.31. – 2010.06.06.Report by Bálint Szalóky, Hungary

The short film industry still has a long way to go in Hungary, it does not have much chance to show itself to the public and those festivals that want to change this around are still in their infancy. Not far from us there is a great tradition of short films and dedicated festivals: the Krakow International Film Festival is being held since the ‘60s and its specialty is the films being held on periphery elsewhere.

The film festival in Krakow is not only the eldest one in Poland but it is also among the oldest festivals across Europe. In its early years it was a festival for Polish films only, but as time passed more and more films came from across the border till the festival became what it is today, an international muster. They hand out prizes in three main categories – documentaries, international and Polish short films; there are also feature films in the documentary section since 2007. The tarnished award for lifetime achievement (which went to the almost 90 years old avant-garde artist Jonas Mekas, who worked together with Andy Warhol back in the days), the parties, conferences, panel meetings and the film fare, Krakow is an elemental part of the yearly film festival program despite the fact that it can only bring in famous names among its jury for example Krzysztof Zanussi who was the head of the short film jury.

Beside the 250 films on the race-card there were retrospective and outside the race movies on the program as well. This year the festival focused on Israeli film makers and their own productions which was granted with a separate section. The biggest hit amongst the audience was Bartek Kulas’s Millhaven, a 7 minutes long animation work. The film took place in Millhaven which was adopted from a song from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, presenting the story of a 15 years old girl. Tomasz Bagiński’s The Kinematograph brings the top of the line concerning the technologic part and would stay stand in any festival however besides the great realization the film misses that small plus which could make it unforgettable.
A lot of directors choose some kind of social related topics to work with, amongst them the Hanoi-Warsaw focuses on immigration. A young Vietnamese girl goes through horrible afflictions while arriving to Poland so she can see her lover again. She is raped during traveling and when she finally arrives to the country she surrenders to the police because she heard that her boyfriend was arrested, and she thinks this way she can meet him somehow. Despite the fact that the film tempts actual issues the execution of the film is only mediocre. Maybe it would have worked out better if it was shot as a full-time motion picture. Besides Hanoi-Warsaw which is about immigration, Out Of Reach is a short documentary based on a story of emigration. Two teenagers decide that they will find their long time missing mother. Their persistence is awarded by success because they find the woman in Paris who also invites the elder girl to France where she becomes aware that life is not a fairytale. In most of the films – documentary, fiction, or animation – this lesson was proven well.

Bálint Szalóky