The Realistic Cinema in the Magic City

in 16th OFF CAMERA International Festival of Independent Cinema, Kraków

by Wieslaw Godzic

The 16th International Festival of Independent Cinema took place in Krakow (of course) from April 28th until May 8th, 2023.

For those who know Krakow a little, it is obvious that the tourists are wandering mainly between the biggest European Market Square, the gorgeous  Planty park, and the Jewish Quarter. Then add some cinema, theatres, some cult places (restaurants, clubs) and you have got yourself the prescription for excellent venues at an international film festival. We have forgotten the camera! Fortunately, Czech film director, Adam Sedlák, has given viewers the enormous independent film work, shot with an iPhone, called Banger. . It is hard to say that it was an audio-visual experiment made by an amateur. On the contrary, as he’s making his rounds across night Prague, Sedlak’s protagonist looks very intriguing and the film, fully professional.

The film called Delegation (Ha’mishlahatn, 2023) was very important for me, personally. I’ve seen many times in Krakow many Israeli groups visiting concentration camps in this country, so I was curious about their perception of the Holocaust. I admired the subtle method of film rhetoric between state of the unspeakable and the contemporary collapse of the family in Do you love me? (Ty mene lubysh, 2023). The best movie in competition, made by Toni Noyabrovej, tells the story of an impossibility: the collapse of family and the state. Fortunately, one can believe that good things occur when you accidentally find a good person.

The festival plays an extraordinary role for female voices. Beside the important category “Best Actress” there were three more prizes taken by women. You Were Not Supposed To Be Here (Miało cię nie być, 2023) makes Sonia Szyc a ‘Rising Star’ actress. The film is about a daughter trying to establish a new relationship with her father. Excellent dialogues as well as ‘intelligent’ movie shows the work of art far from dull and repetitive. Watching a film in that case seems the most ‘semiotic’ way.

The festival publicly praised another woman, Anna Jadowska, and concluded with the category of “Female Voice”. It was taken by Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska for ambition and creativity. It does not mean that movies were oriented as solely socially important issues. For instance, Medusa Deluxe (a British comedy plus thriller), The Great Silence (Den Store Stilhet, 2022), a Danish film – I wanted to interpret as: look at the bright side of life!). You could find a lot of humour and straightforward rhetoric in works of the young generation. One can be assured that ‘independent’ means more social issues than simply entertainment.

The future of independence lies, paradoxically, in being more independent. I can imagine the oFF Camera Festival in the coming year. I can see that the cinema would be less polite then we presume. What do we want as the audience? No, we do have millions of images daily  with very different quality on the internet, of course. And it is partially true. The challenge comes from a more complicated issue. I remember from the beginning of the World Wide Web that there is another value orientation in that case. The more you work for the Internet, the better you are evaluated by its population. I truly wanted to believe in movies as a highest  quality phenomenon, whatever it means. After Krakow’s festival, I assure my condition: maybe cinema is going down. Maybe. But the independent one more slowly.

Wiesław Godzic
Edited by Savina Petkova