Polish Film Festival – Interview with the festival director

The Polish Film Festival returns for its 10th editione presentation in Sydney with a program of nine of the best films from Poland, eight of which are Australian premieres.

The Polish film industry is a large market, especially comparable to Australia, with a very rich film history, and female film directors are excelling with 5 films in this year’s festival. Many Polish films have won Oscar Awards over the years, including Ida (2013) and Cold War (2018), both directed by highly respected director Pawel Pawlikowski. The Polish Holocaust film The zone of interest received two Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film and Best Sound.

“Polish cinema is absolutely flourishing, with more than twenty high-quality films every year, with talented filmmakers,” says festival director Magdalena Ambrozkiewicz enthusiastically. “For years it was difficult for Polish cinema to be recognized, but in the last ten years there have been many award-winning films at Cannes, the Venice Film Festival and the Academy Awards, and hopefully many more will follow!”

Returning to glory

The popularity of this festival increased every year until Covid shut down the entire industry, but it is slowly rebuilding and catching up with pre-Covid entry figures.

When putting together the festival program, variety is essential, so that there is something for everyone. “We have a family film, documentaries, action films and historical films that highlight emerging new talent and gender diversity,” she said.

A powerful drama not to be missed is the critically acclaimed and highly emotional drama Backwards, which focuses on a mother trying to secure the very best future for her autistic son.

“It is a beautiful and very moving story with great performances, which won an audience award. This award is the most important to me because it is significant. A film that is definitely worth watching.”

The dog who traveled on the train is a heart-warming family film that was one of the top three box office successes in Poland. “A sickly girl comes across a dog she loves very much, but when the dog disappears, her health deteriorates – but I won’t reveal what happens!” laughed Ambrozkiewicz. “I even tested this movie on my own kids, and they loved it!”

Ambrozkiewicz explained that this film festival should be attended by all target groups, regardless of ethnicity. “All the films have subtitles and they are brilliant films that are often unseen, and they give a different view of life. Australian audiences have little opportunity to see films from these lesser known countries like Poland, so this festival offers the chance to see something different.”

Magdalena’s Hot Picks for the Polish Film Festival

PHILIP – A young Polish man escapes from a Warsaw ghetto and disguises himself as a Frenchman working in a hotel and romances the local women. Love transcends doom and gloom.

SCARBOREN – A Tarantino-style action film that delves into historical events surrounding American Revolutionary War hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Something completely different for Polish cinema.

DOUBLEGANGER. THE DOUBLE – A psychologically gripping spy thriller on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Multiple award-winning films including Best Director Jan Holoubek on 48e Gdynia Film Festival.

June 23 – July 21. Place Central, Norton St.

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