SEVEN POLISH DOCUMENTARY FILMS AT HOT DOCS
"The Balcony Movie" by Paweł Łoziński, "Bucolica" by Karol Pałka, "Silent Love" by Marek Kozakiewicz, "Backstage" by Ada Smyk, and premiere screenings of Zofia Kowalewska's "Only the Wind" and Bogna Kowalczyk's "Boylesque" will be screening in this year's edition of the extremely prestigious Hot Docs festival in Canada.
Launched in 1993, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is the largest documentary film festival in North America. It takes place every spring, and film screenings are accompanied by international film fairs and industry conferences. This year's edition will start on 28 April and will last until 8 May.
The latest film by Paweł Łoziński is among this year's The Changing Face of Europe section. The Balcony Movie asks a number of important and universal questions. Can anyone be a film protagonist? Can you fit the entire world in a single frame? Director Paweł Łoziński watches people from his balcony. Both young and old, they walk by smiling, sad, thoughtful, staring at their phones. Residents of the neighbourhood, or casual visitors, ordinary passers-by. The author approaches them, asks questions, talks about their life and how they're doing. Standing there with his camera for over 2 years, he created a place for dialogue, a secular confessional where everyone can stop and tell others about themselves. Every person carries their own riddles and secrets. They can't be easily labelled. Life can't be imagined. The Balcony Movie is a radical return to the early days of cinema, when it was people who approached the camera. Perhaps one just needs to stop and stay a while to see more?
The Shorts Programme is going to feature Backstage by Ada Smyk. The titular backstage is located at Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa [Grand Theatre – National Opera] in Warsaw. The craftsmen and craftswomen of its art studios are preparing costumes and sets for the upcoming premiere of one of the most important performances of the season. The film shows the invisible work of dozens of people who usually remain in the shadows of male and female artists performing on stage.
Zofia Kowalewska's Only the Wind will compete for the jury's opinion in Mid-length competition section and the hearts of the international audience. It's international premiere of the film. It's an extremely personal story that revolves around 92-year-old Zdzisław and his 25-year-old granddaughter. They set off on a 5000 km journey to a remote village in Kazakhstan. For him, it's a return to the place where – as a teenager – he was exiled by the Soviets during World War II. After 70 years, he travels again to the country of his childhood in search of his first love, whom he had to leave behind. His granddaughter wants to support him on this difficult quest, while discovering the reality behind the tales she heard as a child. This is their last chance to say goodbye.
The film Boylesque by Bogna Kowalczyk will have its world premiere. Lulla la Polaca (born 1938) is Poland's oldest drag queen. Behind this stage persona is Andrzej – a man who has always fought for the right to individual expression, in spite of the prevailing climate in the country. In the film we get to know his more private incarnation: as a sensitive person and a dreamer. He knows how to enjoy life and is not bad in the world of dating sites, but at the same time is a man immersed in the past, slowly preparing for death. However, he does it with a lot flair and self-irony, treating his performance in front of the camera like another daring act.
Festival programme also include "Silent Love" and "Bucolic". Marek Kozakiewicz's film tells about 35-year-old Aga, which after mother's death, starts to look after her teenage brother, Milosz. She starts playing the role of both mother and father to him, but there is one thing she isn’t telling him about. It’s her long-term relationship with Maja. Will the three of them manage to build a new model of a family in the midst of a conservative and closed community? How will the xenophobic mindset that Milosz is surrounded by, affect the relationships within his home? In turn Karol Pałka's film portraits Danusia and her daughter Basia. They live far away from the modern world, in tune with the rhythm and laws of nature, among animals and the spirits of the dead. The peace and sense of security offered by their enclave come at a price – the women increasingly long for contact with other people. Bucolic is an affectionate observation of people who live in a different way. It evokes a curiosity about their world and a desire to take a closer look.
It is worth mentioning polish-german production "Angels of Sinjar" by Hanna Polak.
You can read more about the festival here.