Diverse and quality films at Gdynia
by Dorota Hartwich
19/09/2008 - If Malgorzata Szumowska’s 33 Scenes from Life [trailer] wins the Grand Prize at the 33rd Gdynia Polish Film Festival this weekend, it won’t just be down to magic numbers but above all the indisputable skill of the director. Lauded at Locarno, the feature has emerged as one of the festival favourites.
This year’s edition has been surprising in three ways: there has been a limited number of selected films (16), a wide diversity of genres and subject matter (after several editions characterised by a similar cinematic language and a narrow range of themes), and a higher quality of films presented.
Another positive conclusion to be drawn from this year’s festival is that Polish films are increasingly being made in co-production with European countries, with three such titles in official competition (33 Scenes from Life co-produced with Germany, Jerzy Skolimowski’s Four Nights With Anna [trailer] with France and Peter Zelenka’s The Karamazov Brothers [trailer] with the Czech Republic).
Among this year’s most outstanding titles is Michal Rosa’s Scratch [trailer] (released today in theatres). Exploring the breakdown of a marriage, the film is open to various interpretations for the personal crisis of conscience – which manifests itself as wounds following the discovery of a painful truth – is the consequence of life in a particular historical and political reality, in this case communism.
Crisis and self-destruction are also at the centre of Sleep [trailer], the second feature by Magdalena Piekorz (The Welts [trailer], Grand Prize at Gdynia in 2004). This enigmatic film looks at the emotional inertia and chaos affecting a narcoleptic woman, a fatally ill writer and a doctor, and their attempts to escape from their dead-end situations.
Besides the films that have already been amply commented on (such as the new works by Skolimowski, Szumowska, Rosa and Gajewski), another noteworthy title is Before Twilight [trailer], the narrative feature debut by experienced documentary filmmaker Jacek Blawut. The film traces the misadventures of several elderly actors in a retirement home and stars the superb Jan Nowicki.
Finally, the competition gave audiences the chance to enjoy Krzysztof Zanussi’s remarkable new film. The Polish film master has this time turned his hand to black comedy with Heart In Your hand [trailer], which will screen at the Rome Film Festival next month.
(Translated from French)