32nd Warsaw International Film Festival
Poland, October 7 - October 16 2016
32th edition of Warsaw Film Festival, one of the few A-category festivals in Eastern Europe, took part at 7-16 October 2016. The weather was rainy and windy as usual for the capital of Poland at this time of the year, but official and unofficial festival parties made the event a warm experience for local audiences and foreign guests. The festival screenings were organized at the multiplex Multikino Zlote Tarasy and the art-house Kinoteka nearby, with each location accidentally foregrounding one of the two major aspects of contemporary film culture. Moreover, the proximity of both venues to the festival hotel made the screening trips short and bearable.
The focus of the Warsaw Film Festival is on Eastern Europe, and films from the region traditionally dominate not only the competition, but also the various other sections. Important element of the festival is the CentEast Market, devoted particularly to movies from Eastern Europe, with events also in Moscow and Beijing. It is an original initiative, which evidences the smart quest of the festival for uniqueness in the competitive world of contemporary film festivals. The focus on the Eastern part of the vast Eurasian continent offers a real chance for exploration of distribution opportunities, all the more that the Chinese film market – as indicated by box office admissions – is growing, so to speak, “per one France a year”.
At CentEast, we were able to see a few interesting projects from Ukraine, both national production and coproductions with neighboring cinemas. The country, still in a “frozen war” with Russia, emerges as a promising production entity.
The international competition jury honored with its main award Malaria, directed by Parviz Shahbazi and set at contemporary Iran. The best director prize went to Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson – a young director, known from his previous excellent shorts – for his Heartstone. Baldur Einarsson received a Special Jury Mention for his work in the same film. The Special Jury Award went to Ahmad Thaher for his role in Blessed Benefit by Mahmoud al Massad.
The jury for Competition 1-2 (which presents first and second features), gave its award to Toril by Laurent Teyssier and the Free Spirit jury chose The Giant by Johannes Nyholm.
The specificity of Warsaw Film Festival also stems from a close, above generational barriers. cooperation of FIPRESCI young and older critics. The participants of the workshops for aspiring film critics (FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project) not only discussed their favorite films with the FIPRESCI jury, but also had their own reward, which went to Christo, directed by Grigor Lefterov and Todor Matsanov.
The FIPRESCI jury honored another Bulgarian movie – the excellent, moving, and perfectly narrated Godless by Ralitza Petrova – with the following motivation: A stunning debut: Godless tells a complex story full of existential issues without lecturing the audience at any time. The Jury also appreciated the inspiring ending – open for various interpretations (which is always a sign of superior artistic quality) – and the impressive acting of Irena Ivanova in the main role.
The two important awards for notable Bulgarian movies make quite realistic the prospect of the advent of a Bulgarian New Wave, similar in style and narratives to the current Romanian one. (Marcin Adamczak © FIPRESCI 2016)
Edited by Christina Stojanova