25th Warsaw Film Festival

Poland, October 9 - October 18 2009

The jury

Anne Brodie (Canada), Siranush Galstyan (Armenia), Melis Behlil (Turkey)

Awarded films

The Warsaw Film Festival earned its place this year on the list of 13 international competitive festivals as determined by the FIAPF.  It’s a prestigious honour and should enhance this terrific festival’s profile significantly.  This year’s programme lived up to that high standard while celebrating its 25th anniversary under the watch of co-founder Stefan Laudry.

Tarik Saleh’s sci fi animated thriller Metropia shared the prestigious Opening Night Gala spot with Izabela Plucinska’s political Claymation fairy tale Esterhazy, and Pawel Borowski’s urban anthology Zero closed the festival.  Between them, more than 100 films from all over the world entertained moviegoers who jammed the theatres at all hours, often standing room only.  It appears to be phenomenally popular event for locals as well as international filmmakers, juries, industry types and fans.

The competitive programme included the International, Free Spirit, Documentary, Shorts, and Competition 1-2 for first and second films from international filmmaker as well as the FIPRESCI Award.  The non competitive programme included The Master’s Touch, Discoveries, and the Family Cinema Weekend programme which provided the opportunity for families to view A Shine of Rainbows and The Secret of Kells as part of the festival experience.

The Audience Poll voted for two films as best featurere film category, The Dark House, by Wojciech Smarzowski and Welcome by Philippe Lioret.  The winning documentary was Hashmatsa / Defamation, by Yoav Shamir.  The Pigs by Dorte W. Hogh won in the shorts category.

The Warsaw FIPRESCI Project was established to lend aid and moral support to young and emerging filmmakers through practical and theoretical education, including the history and cultural significance of film.  The FIPRESCI jury was pleased to meet and talk to a group of aspiring film critics and writers and noted their total passion for film and filmmakers, the limitations they’re facing because of the global economic slowdown and reduced media outlets and their hopes for the future.

We were an all female international jury – Melis Behlil from Istanbul, Turkey, Siranush Galstyan from Yerevan, Armenia and myself, from Toronto, Canada –charged with the fascinating job of watching and adjudicating 13 films from Eastern and Central Europe.  We chose as our winner the Polish entry “Reverse” (Rewers) by Boris Lankosz, a witty and horrific black comedy about a family of three women living in a Warsaw tenement under Soviet occupation.

Warsaw hosted Cent East during the final days of the fest, in which Russian and Polish film and TV artists, producers, festival programmers, and distributors are working to bring the cinema of Eastern Europe to the world.

The awards were presented to the winners on Saturday evening, 17 October.

The Warsaw Grand Prix, the main prize in the International Competition, went to Lourdes directed by Jessica Hausner  (Austria/France/Germany). The Special Jury Prize went to La Pasión de Gabriel / THE Passion of Gabriel directed by Luis Alberto Restrepo (Colombia).  The winners of the 1-2 Competition were Sheva Dakot Be’gan Eden / Seven Minutes in Heaven directed by Omri Givon (Israel) and Eastern Plays directed by Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria). The Free Spirit Awards went to Purgatorio / Purgatory directed by Roberto Rochin Naya (Mexico) and Mal Día Para Pescar / Bad Day to Go Fishing directed by Alvaro Brechner (Uruguay). The prizes were funded by Empik.  The award for the best full-length documentary went to Disco and Atomic War directed by Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Aarma (Estonia). The prize was funded by benq.  In the Shorts Competition the winner was Apuntes Sobre El Otro / Notes on the Other directed by Sergio Oksman (Spain).  The FIPRESCI Prize for the best Eastern European debut went to Rewers / Reverse directed by Borys Lankosz (Poland). (Anne Brodie)

Warsaw Film Festival: www.wff.pl