It was a good evening for Polish documentaries. Two documentaries received special mentions in the capital of Croatia.

ZagrebDox is an international film festival held in the Croatian capital since 2005. The organisers have set themselves the goal of promoting the most interesting domestic and foreign documentary productions.  In addition to competition screenings, the program includes retrospectives and numerous special sections.

Two Polish documentaries participating in the competition brought two special mentions. One went to 1970 by Tomasz Wolski and the other to The Balcony Movie by Paweł Łoziński.

The former is set in the year 1970, when a series of high-profile protests breaks out on the coast of communist Poland. Workers are going on strike against price increases. More and more protesters flood the streets. Things are getting tense. Meanwhile, a crisis team is being formed in the capital. Through animated sequences combined with archival recordings of phone conversations, we get to peek behind the closed doors of dignitaries' offices. Hundreds of cigarettes are smoked. Phones are ringing incessantly. Strategies to break up protesters and dole out future repression are being planned. Propaganda activities are being devised. The protests, however, are getting out of control. We see the decision-makers' fear, confusion, and brutality. Police batons are being put to use in the streets. Shots are fired. People get killed. 1970 is a story of rebellion told from the oppressors' point of view.

In turn, Paweł Łoziński's film is a very contemporary production that asks a number of 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? 

A list of all awarded productions can be found here.