Winners of the inaugural Georgian National Eliso Awards Revealed

Written by Vladan Petkovic for Cineuropa, 18.6.2024

The winners of the new Georgian national Eliso Awards, established by London-based actress Natalia Jugheli through the Nato Vachnadze Foundation, named after her great-grandmother, a pioneering actress of Georgian cinema, were revealed on 14 June in Gurjaani. Eliso is a 1928 silent film directed by Vachnadze’s husband, Nikoloz Shengelaia.

The awards, each worth circa €1,630 (5,000 lari), were given out in three categories. Last year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry [+] emerged as the big winner, with Elene Naveriani winning Best Director and Eka Chavleishvili being crowned Best Actress. This way, the film repeated its feat from last year’s Sarajevo Film Festival, where the director and the actress won the same prizes (see the news). Meanwhile, Lomero Akhvlediani won Best Cinematography for his work on Luka Beradze’s documentary Smiling Georgia [+].

“The Nato Vachnadze Foundation’s first project, the Eliso Awards, is a love letter to Nato’s husband, Nikoloz Shengelaia, and at the same time, it celebrates sisterhood, as Eliso was played by Natos’s sister Kira Andronikashvili, who was repressed by the Soviet Union,” Jugheli told Cineuropa.

“We wanted to present the awards this year, as it aligned with Nato Vachnadze’s 120th birthday, and Gurjaani has a tradition of national celebration on her birth and death date – 14 June. Because we had little time, we decided to launch the awards with limited nominations, plus we wanted to support the filmmakers financially, which is very important in the present reality of the Georgian film industry. In the future, we will expand and include all categories.”

The international jury, consisting of casting director Dixie Chassay, actress-screenwriter Taki Mumladze, cinematographer-director Tato Kotetishvili, director-screenwriter Babak Jalali and director-producer Nino Orjonikidze, also gave out Special Mentions, including one for Outstanding Documentary Storytelling for Magic Mountain [+] by Mariam Chachia and Nik Voigt. The full list can be found below.

“The Eliso Awards are not only about celebrating cinema and tradition, but also about creating a space for reflection to make people think; it’s about understanding the past and confronting the present through the art of images,” said director Nino Kirtadze, a board member of the Nato Vachnadze Foundation. “The existence of the Eliso Awards in today’s Georgia can be defined as [a response to] the existential need for the art community to meet, celebrate, think, stay united and move forwards together.”

Here is the full list of Eliso Award winners:

Best Director
Elene Naveriani – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry [+] (Switzerland/Georgia)

Best Actress
Eka Chavleishvili – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry

Best Cinematography
Lomero Akhvlediani – Smiling Georgia [+] (Georgia/Germany)

Special Mention for Best Editing
Eka Tsotsoria – Self-portrait Along the Borderline

Special Mention for Outstanding Documentary Storytelling
Mariam Chachia, Nik Voigt – Magic Mountain [+] (Georgia/Poland)

Special Mention for Newcomers
Nina Eradze – Liza Go On Ani Mogeladze – Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry

Special Mention for Best Ensemble
Smiling Georgia – Luka Beradze

Lise Roos

Af Tue Steen Müller, tidl. filmkonsulent ved Statens Filmcentral

Børnelivet

På gulvet i børnehaven ved Sankt Hans Torv sidder instruktøren, den pædagoguddannede Lise Roos. ”I de næste to uger fjerner vi legetøjet, men I kan jo stadig tegne og male og lege med ler. Kan I godt finde ud af det?”, spørger hun børnene, og bliver mødt af et stort ”Jaaa”. En sofa og en lænestol sættes ind på stuen, og der bliver kravlet og hoppet og opfundet nye lege. Eksperimentet bliver til Kan man klippe i vand? (1983), og én af dem, der klipper i vand, er Thomas. Ud af det optagne materiale får han sin egen korte film, Thomas og hans tempo (1984), som ved et gensyn står som en lille selvstændig perle om en dreng, som er langsom og holder sig lidt tilbage, men ender med modigt at hoppe fra sofaen ned på madrassen. Filmen om Thomas blev sammen med tre andre film lavet på baggrund af optagelserne til børnehavefilmen og var tænkt som debatoplæg i pædagogiske kredse. Nu står de for sig selv: Tumlerier, Samspil og Far, mor og børn. Noget om rollelege (alle fra 1984). Imponerende hvad produktionsselskabet Hanne Høyberg fik ud af råoptagelserne til Kan man klippe i vand?

De fire film vidner om Lise Roos’ enestående blik for børn og hverdagens situationer. Hun havde ganske vist ’øvet sig’ op gennem 1970’erne med filmene om sine to døtre ’Pigen Silke’ (1971) og Eline de første 16 måneder (1973), og inden det vendt kameraet mod sig selv i En fødsels forløb (1972). Det er sagligt informerende film – sidstnævnte var et hit i Statens Filmcentrals udlån og blev ofte kørt baglæns af frække unger og lærere ude på skolerne. 16 mm-filmen blev spolet tilbage, og dermed barnet tilbage i mors mave.

Alderdommen

Et spring frem i tid til 1990’erne, hvor Lise Roos laver den smukke Alle disse øjeblikke – om alderdommen. Hun kalder det selv et billeddigt, sammensat af dokumentariske momenter. Alderdommen er ikke en dom, men et indholdsrigt afsnit i livet. Som hun siger i filmen: ”Det siges, at alderen trænger sig på og tager sin ret, men det er jo bare kroppen, der ældes, så det knager. Sjælen bryder sig li’som ikke om at tiden går. Den lever inde i kroppen, den fylder ingen år. Og hvor senil jeg end kan blive, så er det ikke mig, der bliver det. Det er kun mit hjerne-kontor, som klumrer i det”.

Speak og sprog, der går i arv

Ved gensynet med denne og flere andre af instruktørens film er det pludselig tydeligt for mig, hvor fremragende Lise Roos var til at skrive speak til sine film. Korte tekster, nærmest som knækprosa, der ikke kommer i karambolage med billederne, og er mere end bare informerende i klassisk forstand. I sin sidste film, ’Et menneske bliver til’ (1998) taler hun smukt og kærligt om sin far Karl Roos, og om hvor fint han behandlede sproget. Det samme gjorde hun.

Hun lavede også tidligt en hyldest til sin far gennem filmatiseringen af hans bog Kan vi være dette bekendt? (1972). Peter Roos, søn af Lises farbror, Jørgen Roos, dansk dokumentarfilms store mester, var fotograf på filmen, som er optaget på Vesterbro og i Randers. Den sociale indignation strømmer ud af denne rapport om boligtilstande, som med Karl Roos’ ord var ”i udkanten af fantasien”.

Filmfamilien Roos

Det var ikke altid nemt for Lise Roos at navigere i skoven af filmfolk med efternavnet Roos. Udover fætter Peter var der broren Ole, der nok mest vil blive husket for sine spillefilm. Søster Gerd var i en lang periode produktionsleder på Statens Filmcentral, hvor Lise skulle hente finansiering til sine film. Mor Louise var en skattet arkivar på Filmmuseet. Og så onkel Jørgen som den, hvis mening Lise oftest ventede på. ”Var han der til visningen?”, spurgte hun mig ofte efter en af de mange herlige premierer. ”Hvad sagde han?”.

Lise og Statens Filmcentral

Selvportrættet ’Et menneske bliver til’, Lises sidste film, blev færdiggjort i 1998 af Mikkel Bo efter hendes død. Den er 42 minutter lang og mange af Lise Roos’ film – før videoen tog over som optagemateriale – har denne længde, så de kunne være på én 16 mm-spole. Det var formatet, vi arbejdede med på Statens Filmcentral i Vestergade 27, hvor der på et tidspunkt arbejdede omkring 100 mennesker, og hvor film af Lise Roos altid blev bestilt i mange kopier. De var efterspurgte – og hun var en efterspurgt instruktør, som tog ud med sine film og altid veloplagt talte med sit publikum. Også i det store udland, hvor hun i den sidste fase af sit liv blev hædret bl.a. på den anerkendte festival i Pärnu i Estland.

Filmen, som blev vist dér var ’Kolonihaven – om nogen grønlændere i Danmark’ (1990), med grønlandsk tale og grønlandske undertekster, når der blev talt dansk. Der er en herlig scene, hvor en grønlænder med stort hvidt skæg fortæller, at han blev budt på en øl, men svarede, at han ikke drak, hvorefter danskeren sagde: ”Jamen alle grønlændere drikker jo!”. Jeg kan forestille mig, at det var Lise Roos’ fordomsbrydende motivation til at lave filmen, som er smuk i tone og udtryk. For som altid havde hun fundet de rigtige medvirkende og stillet de rigtige spørgsmål i velkomponerede billeder af Simon Plum.

Filmfolk og det kreative rum

Det var utroligt vigtigt for Lise Roos at have mennesker omkring sig, som forstod, hvad hun ville med sine film. Det faste hold af kreative filmfolk var fotograferne Simon Plum og Erik Norsker samt Mikkel Bo, Lises tro væbner, klipper og lydmand. Det samme gælder for hendes ’filmiske hjem’, vil jeg kalde det, nede ved Gl. Strand, hvor Hanne og Helle Høyberg havde deres produktionsselskab, som tiltrak ikke alene Lise Roos, men også Dola Bonfils, Katia Forbert, Anne Wivel og Danmarks første store filmklipper-stjerne, Christian Hartkopp. Det var et sted, hvor folk også kom, når de ikke var i gang med en produktion. Der var atmosfære, der ’lugtede’ af film og klippeborde. Lise Roos følte sig hjemme her, hun havde behov for tryghed i sit arbejde.

Nye formater til TV: familieliv, ungdomsliv, arbejdsliv

Senere blev det hos produktionsselskabet Film og Lyd i Bredgade, at Lise Roos holdt til. Jeg havde som SFC-konsulent privilegiet at være konsulent på det store stilskifte, som Lise Roos foretog i midten af 1990’erne. Sammen med TV2 blev der på vore institutioners vegne lagt penge i de to flot producerede dokumentariske serier: Familien Danmark (1994) og Frikvarteret (1995). Lise Roos var her instruktør på et tv-format, som fik hende ind i de mange danske stuer til et stort publikum. De kunne tydeligvis spejle sig i de mennesker, unge som gamle, som medvirkede i et bytte-liv eksperiment eller gik på gymnasiet i midt-90’erne. I 1997 blev det så til ’Fik du set det du ville’, 200 minutters dokumentarisme, skåret til tv-formatet (kan ses på Filmstriben). Utroligt, hvad der kom med i den serie af fine portrætter af mennesker – danskere hjemme såvel som på arbejde. Smukke øjeblikke vi kan se tilbage på, sådan var det, sådan så vi ud, sådan tænkte vi for tredive år siden.

Det er blevet sagt og skrevet, at Lise Roos – hun har selv nævnt det – var optaget af det almindelige liv. Jeg vil gerne tilføje, at hun i det almindelige fandt det særlige i sin uvurderlige tolkning af menneskeliv og -drømme.  

Tue Sten Müller | 8. maj 2024

Baltic Sea Docs 2024

We are thrilled to announce the 26 selected projects for this year’s Baltic Sea Docs!

As usual, we will meet in Riga where the forum will take place on 1-6 September (industry dates).

22 new projects, currently in development and production, will be presented at the main pitch, and four additional projects in the “Coming Soon” session, featuring films in post-production that have previously been pitched at Baltic Sea Docs.

𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐣𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬:

𝟖𝟎 𝐀𝐧𝐠𝐫𝐲 𝐉𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐬 | Hungary / Germany

dir. András Földes, Anna Kis | prod. Lorand Balazs Imre | FilmDough Productions UG

𝐀𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 (𝐰𝐭) | Kazakhstan

dir. Sasha Shegai | prod. Sasha Shegai, Yevgeniya Moreva | CatNip

𝐁𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐢𝐜 | Poland

dir. Iga Lis | prod. Stanislaw Zaborowski, Justyna Gawelko | Silver Frame

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐆𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐚𝐫𝐤 | Lithuania

dir. Andrius Lekavičius | prod. Gabriele Vaiciunaite | Cinema Cartel

𝐃𝐚𝐫𝐤 𝐒𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 | Estonia

dir. Erik Tikan | prod. Elina Litvinova, Maris Salumets | Three Brothers OÜ

𝐃𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐏𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐭 | Lithuania

dir. Aiste Stonyte | prod. Giedrė Žickytė, Migla Butkutė | Moonmakers

𝐄𝐝𝐠𝐞 𝐎𝐟 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐍𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 | Estonia

dir. Vladimir Loginov | prod. Janika Möls | Anthill Films OÜ

𝐄𝐥 𝐃𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐨 | Georgia

dir. Rati Oneli | prod. Rati Oneli, David Vashadze, Evgeniia Marchenko | Office of Architecture

𝐄𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 | Latvia / Romania

dir. Viesturs Kairišs | prod. Elīna Gediņa – Ducena, Gints Grūbe | Mistrus Media, Dash Film

𝐄𝐧𝐭𝐫’𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐬 | Ukraine

dir. Yuriy Shylov | prod. Olha Tuharinova | LLC “Alarm Productions”

𝐅𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 | Latvia

dir. Ivars Zviedris | prod. Ivars Zviedris | BIEDRĪBA “DOKUMENTĀLISTS”

𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐲 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐒𝐚𝐟𝐞 | Germany

dir. Sasha Kulak, Masha Maroz | prod. Julia Shaginurova | Einmahnstraße Productions

𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐝𝐞𝐚 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 Making Friends with the Idea of a Father / Сприятеляване с идеята за баща | Bulgaria

dir. Nikolay Stefanov | prod. Ralitsa Golemanova | Smarty Pants Shooter Ltd.

𝐍𝐨 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 | Ukraine / Latvia

dir. Yevhen Titarenko | prod. Guntis Trekteris, Natalia Khazan | Braha Production Company, EGO MEDIA

𝐎𝐝𝐲𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐲 𝐌𝐃 | Moldova / Lithuania

dir. Pavel Braila | prod. Pavel Braila, Lilia Braila, Ausra Lukosiuniene | ARTWATT, VEGELE FILMS

𝐒𝐚𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐒𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐬 | Georgia

dir. Nona Giunashvili | prod. Mariam Bitsadze | 17/07 Productions

𝐒𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐳𝐡𝐢𝐤 | Armenia

dir. Lusine Papoyan | prod. Aram Petrosyan | Formlab

𝐒𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐬 | Sweden

dir. Johan von Sydow | prod. Katja Uneborg | Picky Pictures

𝐒𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐇𝐢𝐥𝐥 | Estonia

dir. Kullar Viimne | prod. Erik Norkroos | Rühm Pluss Null – Missing Pictures

𝐒𝐤𝐲 𝐍𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐬 | Azerbaijan

dir. Aytaj Khalig Suleymanova | prod. Elmaddin Suleymanov | image x

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐝 𝐁𝐚𝐫𝐧 | Latvia

dir. Pēteris Krilovs | prod. Uldis Cekulis | VFS Films

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐬𝐞 | Estonia

dir. Kristen Aigro, Miguel Llansó | prod. Liis Nimik | Klara Films

𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐒𝐨𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧:

𝐁𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐑𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐢 | Estonia

dir. Margit Lillak | prod. Margit Lillak, Dirk Manthey | Tiny Desk Productions OÜ, Dirkmantheyfilms

𝐃𝐞𝐝𝐨𝐯𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐚 | Tajikistan / Uzbekistan

dir., prod. Elyor Nematov | 1844 Productions

𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 | Latvia / Estonia / Poland / Germany

dir. Kārlis Lesiņš | prod. Elīna Gediņa – Ducena, Gints Grūbe | Mistrus Media, Allfilm, Staron Film, Gebrueder Beetz

𝐒𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐬 | Latvia / Lithuania

dir. Laila Pakalniņa | prod. Uldis Cekulis, Giedrė Žickytė | VFS Films, Moonmakers

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue introducing the projects closer!

👉 For more information, visit our website: www.balticseadocs.lv/industry

Aistė Stonytė: The Mammoth Hunt Wins Silver Crane in Lithuania

All right, let’s have the synopsis (Scanorama Festival Kaunas 2023) first: ““The Mammoth Hunt” is a story about a film reel that for many years has been thought to be lost. On the reel, under conspiracy conditions, an abolished anti-Soviet theatre performance had been documented nearly 50 years ago – a play that served as a cross-section of the period revealing the universal subjects of courage, conformation, loyalty and betrayal.” Directed by Jonas Jurašas (1936), who left Soviet Lithuania in 1974 with his wife Ausra and came back, when the country achieved its independence. Jurašas is the main protagonist in the film, his cv from his time as “senior director” of the Kaunas Drama Theatre is impressive.

I have seen the film twice. As I normally do, when I find something that is of great interest content-wise and as a Film. On top of that, a personal motivation: the film deals with the world of theatre – my father was an actor, Aistė Stonytė’s father is an actor and I sense immediately that the film has a loving atmosphere and cares about its protagonists.

I loved to be there in the theatre world with all these old charismatic people digging into a past that was both enjoyable and not so pleasant. They did something together, “The Mammoth Hunt” was a great audience success, and when banned by Moscow, the play was filmed secretly but where is the film… 

There are many strong protagonists, the writer/critic, Audronė Girdzijauskaitė, who was banned for her writing, the sculptor, Marija Vildžiūnienė, who was hiding Jonas and his wife Ausra, the latter strong as well, she was described as “furia” in the KGB archive. The 96 year old actor Antanas Tarasevicius, who remembers that the filming (in 1970!) took place; he was also secretary of the party, but that was just a personal security matter for him, he says… And not to forget the cameraman Donatas Pečiūra, who passed away last year, an old man who climbs the stairs to his attic to look for the film as he shot on 16mm, on material provided for the shooting by the Amateur Film Society, whose chair at that time was Rimgaudas Eilunavicius, who as the others are interviewed by Stonyté. No one seems to know, where the film is but luckily the sound tapes are there and play an important role for the viewer to imagine, often together with photos taken, what a controversial play it must have been. Well told, good cinematography by Kristina Sereikaite, two genres that go well together – the investigation and a psychological drama. Great archive! And great music from the film!

Many layers there are. It’s also a film about remembrance. The cameraman of the play Donatas Pečiūra goes to the attic and is actually more interested in showing some photos from way back than searching for the lost film. Look and he shows a photo of a cat! Marija Vildžiūnienė, a lovely protagonist, shot a lot of b/w material, thus she is able to remember those days, where Jonas Jurašas and his wife were living at her place; there is a freshness in this material, a feeling of freedom. 

Should he have stayed? Audronė Girdzijauskaitė, the critic and author, reflects on this. He could have been a legend but he left and came back as a hero… who could no longer connect to the country. Masterly conveyed by Stonyté, who follows the theatre director with the beautiful white hair walking around, visiting the theatre AND sitting at the beach, alone like the last scene with Dirk Bogarde in Visconti’s “Death in Venice”. A heron walks in the foreground, magic! 

This building of the film is so intelligent. I was until a certain point sure that I would be given an answer to the missing film but the shift to have the focus solely on the aging Jonas Jurašas and his fate being away from his country, coming back as a stranger is very moving. Thank you for not refraining from pathos, for filming his embrace of THEATRE. 

Lithuania, 2023, 94 mins.

Truth and Film – Danish Film School

The ‘Truth & Film’ symposium (June 22-23) will bring together leading international filmmakers from documentary, fiction, and visual arts at the National Film School of Denmark to engage in discussions about cinematic truthfulness, current global challenges, and the possibilities for film to serve as a relevant source of understanding and engagement with the world around us.

Social media, live-streamed mass violence, and misinformation created by AI and other technologies like deepfakes are bringing us into a whole new era as a society. Images not only reflect but also drive new forms of development in the world. What does this mean for cinema, and what role can and should film play in this new context?

On 22-23 June, the National Film School of Denmark will welcome the first-ever Arab woman with two Oscar nominations, Venice and Cannes winner Kaouther Ben Hania (‘Four Daughters’, ‘The Man who Sold His Skin’), double Cannes winner Cristian Mungiu (‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’; ‘R.M.N.’ ), Sundance winners Kirsten Johnson (director of ‘Cameraperson’, who also was director of photography on the Oscar-winning ‘Citizen Four’) and Ra’anan Alexandrowicz (‘The Viewing Booth’; ‘The Law in These Parts’), the prominent visual artist Yuri Ancarani (‘Atlantis’; ‘Il Popolo delle Donne’), and award-winning editor, director, producer, and writer Tabitha Jackson, who recently served as Director of the Sundance Film Festival.

We are facing a truth crisis and we are bombarded with daily sensational and polarising content that threatens to limit our curiosity and understanding of the world around us. Our guest-directors refuse to be drowned in the flood of disinformation, and against this backdrop, we invite the film industry to challenge the status quo and redefine what makes film credible, risk-taking, and relevant to audiences. We look forward to an inspiring symposium weekend, which is important at a time when trust in the media is shrinking.

Two Dragons. Jacek Petrycki and Godfrey Reggio win the Dragon of Dragons award

This year, the Dragon of Dragons award will go to two outstanding creators: a legendary American director and an eminent Polish cinematographer. Godfrey Reggio’s films are a cultural phenomenon – visually captivating and pioneering essays that have left their mark on the history of cinema. At the 64th Krakow Film Festival, we will see the renowned Qatsi Trilogy at Kino pod Wawelem. It’s hard to imagine the most significant Polish film productions of the last half-century without Jacek Petrycki’s excellent cinematography. Between May and June, we will showcase his documentary achievements in Krakow’s art-house cinemas.

The Program Council of the Krakow Film Foundation has decided to award two equivalent Dragon of Dragons prizes. The recipient of the first one is Godfrey Reggio, an outstanding American documentary filmmaker, a pioneer of environmental documentaries, and the creator of the Qatsi Trilogy with music by Philip Glass. Due to his health, the director will not personally come to Kraków in person, but he has promised to conduct an online workshop. However, the Festival will have the pleasure of hosting the second recipient – the distinguished Polish filmmaker Jacek Petrycki, the first cinematographer awarded the Dragon of Dragons. He is also a documentary filmmaker and, above all, the cinematographer behind dozens of documentary and feature films, many of which have been awarded in Kraków numerous times, including works by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Marcel Łoziński – explains Tadeusz Lubelski, Chairman of the KFF Program Council.

The Realist

Jacek Petrycki (born 1948 in Poznań) is a graduate of the Film School in Łódź and a highly regarded Polish cinematographer and director of documentary films. He is the cinematographer behind many acclaimed feature and documentary films, including 89 mm from Europe,The Visit,Workshop Exercises by Marcel Łoziński, First Love,Talking Heads, and Camera Buff by Krzysztof Kieślowski, as well as Agnieszka Holland’s Fever and A Woman Alone. Since 1987, he has collaborated with British television channels Channel 4 and the BBC.

He is a recipient of several awards, including a BAFTA for Clive Gordon’s The Betrayed, a Golden Frog for Kasia Adamik’s The Offsiders, and multiple distinctions at the Krakow Film Festival. He was also nominated for the European Film Award for Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s Journey to the Sun.

Petrycki is a realist with an extraordinary talent for noticing poetry in everyday life. Whether in documentary or feature films, he approaches cinematography with a documentarian’s eye. He isn’t afraid of tackling difficult subjects; in one interview, he admitted that in documentaries, sometimes one must address frightening realities, and if it serves a purpose, it cannot be avoided. Throughout his career, he has not only honed his skills in cinematography but has also contributed to promoting Polish documentary cinema on the international stage. His passion for cinema and unique perspective on the world make him a respected cinematographer and outstanding educator. 

The director will be present in Kraków and will conduct a masterclass.

The Idealist

Godfrey Reggio (born 1940 in New Orleans) is a pioneer of cinematic form, a creator of poetic images of extraordinary emotional impact. At the age of fourteen, he voluntarily joined the enclosed order of the Christian Brothers. He prayed, remained silent, fasted, and lived a life of asceticism for several years. In the 1960s, he co-founded La Clinica de la Gente, a medical and dental care centre for the poorest, and the Young Citizens for Action organization, where he volunteered on the streets of Santa Fe. Before turning thirty, he left the brotherhood and became interested in the nature of imagery and film. 

In 1972, he established the non-profit Institute for Regional Education and – two years later – the American Civil Liberties Union. He protested against media manipulation, social engineering, subliminal advertising, and privacy infringements. Reggio promoted environmental awareness and a return to lost spirituality. He believed that idealism is the most practical thing in life. 

During the production of educational short films, he met cinematographer Ron Fricke, and soon after, composer Philip Glass joined their duo. Together, they created the renowned Qatsi Trilogy and collaborated on Reggio’s subsequent films like Anima Mundi and Visitors

The director will not be present in Kraków, but he will connect with the audience after screenings and conduct his masterclass online. 

The Dragon of Dragons award ceremonies will traditionally be accompanied by retrospectives of the laureates’ output. The program will feature the most important films by Jacek Petrycki and five documentaries by Godfrey Reggio, including the trilogy, which will be screened at Kino pod Wawelem. Both winners will also conduct their masterclasses, with the Polish creator in Kraków and the American director making an online appearance.

Retrospective of Jacek Petrycki’s films:

  • Microphone’s Test, dir. Marcel Łoziński, Poland 19′
  • Workshop Exercises, dir. Marcel Łoziński, Poland, 12’
  • Benek Blues, dir. Katarzyna Maciejko-Kowalczyk, Poland 56’
  • Takie miejsce, dir. Andrzej Titkow, Poland, 11’
  • First Love, dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski, Poland, 30’/52’
  • The Return of Agnieszka H., dir. Krystyna Krauze, Jacek Petrycki, Poland, Czech Republic, 77’
  • Poste Restante, dir. Marcel Łoziński, Poland, 14’
  • My Notes from the Underground, dir. Jacek Petrycki, Poland, 39’
  • The Betrayed, dir. Clive Gordon, United Kingdom, 79’

Retrospective of Godfrey Reggio’s films:

  • Koyaanisqatsi, dir. Godfrey Reggio, USA, 87’
  • Powaqqatsi, dir. Godfrey Reggio, USA, 90’
  • Naqoyqatsi, dir. Godfrey Reggio, USA, 89’
  • Visitors, dir. Godfrey Reggio, USA, 87’
  • Once Within a Time, dir. Godfrey Reggio, Jon Kane, USA, 52’

DocsBarcelona Winners 2024

At least some of them, films I have seen:

Docs Award for the Best Film in the Docs&Pearls Official Selection: Laura Plancarte: Mexican Dream. The jury motivation goes like this: “For emerging as a generous and vibrant film, courageously delving into the complexities of its nuanced character and her reality. The director’s intimate, supportive, and collaborative approach, along with the decision to share script authorship, shows a profound sensitivity. It accompanies the protagonist’s journey of empowerment with empathy, challenging societal boundaries and norms with no hint of judgment or moralism”.

The Docs Nou Talent – Filmin awards the debut Daughter of Genghis by Kristoffer Juel Poulsen and Christian Als. The film is reviewed on this site: https://filmkommentaren.dk/kristoffer-juel-poulsen-christian-als-daughter-of-genghis/ The jury motivation goes like this: “Along with this epic journey, we see a significant transformation of not just the struggling protagonist, but also the camera’s gaze on its subject. And we discover that profound patience is the very thing that enables this transformation. Seven years of production are required to portray the complexity of the once-ultra-nationalist Mongolian woman and allow her to find balance in her own life”.

The award for the best film in the category Docs&Cat – Catalan documentaries went to Casa Reynal by Laia Manresa Casals. The jury motivation goes like this:

“For the director’s narrative skill, which through a tribute to her grandmother and the working class, weaves an emancipatory story about the post-war generation. We want to thank Laia for captivating us with her red thread and moving us.”

Photo: Cesc Maymo.

Efthymia Zymvragaki: Light Falls Vertical

Thanks to my membership of the European Film Academy I could watch this emotionally strong, storytelling-wise original film after a masterclass at DocsBarcelona yesterday arranged by the festival and DocIncubator, whose founder and director Andrea Prenghyova was in a fine dialogue with the director talking about how the film ended up in the training program and profited from that. The film premiered at IDFA 2023, travelled to many festivals and was nominated for the European Film Awards. It is a film that uses metaphors, is visually constantly attractive and has a narrative text that is beautiful even if you – like me – have to read it as subtitles. Sorry for the superlatives, I now let others take the floor:

“When filmmaker Efthymia Zymvragaki fled her native island of Crete as a young adult, she hoped to leave her violent childhood behind. But in Spain, her memories come flooding back when a man asks her to make a film about him and his violence. The encounters with Ernesto and his alter ego Juan, the frank conversations about the violent acts he committed, and the scenes in which he or actors reenact parts of his autobiography provide unprecedented insight into the nature of an abuser – in this case, one who is painfully self-aware. At the same time, the filmmaker relives her own past. The quiet, almost whispered commentary and the poetic, cinematic shots of sun-drenched landscapes, details of flowers and the sea in which Zymvragaki’s father would eventually die, leave room for the viewer’s own reflections. In addition to the effects and causes of violence, the film is also about identity and the longing for a home. (Thurn Film)”When filmmaker Efthymia Zymvragaki fled her native island of Crete as a young adult, she hoped to leave her violent childhood behind. But in Spain, her memories come flooding back when a man asks her to make a film about him and his violence. The encounters with Ernesto and his alter ego Juan, the frank conversations about the violent acts he committed, and the scenes in which he or actors reenact parts of his autobiography provide unprecedented insight into the nature of an abuser – in this case, one who is painfully self-aware. At the same time, the filmmaker relives her own past. The quiet, almost whispered commentary and the poetic, cinematic shots of sun-drenched landscapes, details of flowers and the sea in which Zymvragaki’s father would eventually die, leave room for the viewer’s own reflections. In addition to the effects and causes of violence, the film is also about identity and the longing for a home.” (Thurn Film)

,,Light Falls Vertical” is a film about Ernesto and his struggle with his patterns of violence and abuse. It is also a film about his partner Juliane and her reality of the intense presence and absence of the man in her life absence of the man in her life. And finally and above all, it is a film about me and my encounter with the torment of my past,my late father, the silence that permeated our dialogue, and the circles of violence. (The director, October 2022)

Mikael Opstrup: The Uncertainty/ 2

“A book about Developing Character driven Documentary. Suggested by Mikael Opstrup”. I write /2 as I have praised the book, when it came out in November 2021, with a follow-up, second edition in January 2023 adding five new chapters to the first edition, and now in February this year, Mikael has enlarged the book with “9 new scenes”. 3rd edition, 62 pages!

A book that all documentarians should have on their shelf, informative and well written – suggested as Mikael writes is far too modest – and with the new scenes, happy to say stressing the humourous self irony and doubt that is part of the author’s style.

Scenes he calls them, the 9 texts that are new. Hilarious is the first one about the commissioning editor falling asleep during a funding screening that was important for the producer Mikael to cover the financial deficit his first film ended up with. Informative is the story about the meeting with a sales agent on when the right moment is to make an agreement. Fun is the text about the connection established with an editor, who was happy that a film project came in with a theme that matched her tv slot – Mikael had no idea he had hit the bullseye, said so, it is a good idea to be honest in these situations. I have so many examples, where filmmakers in pitching situations say “yes, yes this is what we want” trying to please the editor with money. Mikael says Honesty pays.

Adding the scenes in this 3rd edition was the right decision of Mikael Opstrup. You sense that he has had a good time writing the 9 texts, they are personal experiences and full of respect for the makers of what he again and again calls films from the wonderful documentary genre.

4th edition? – there will be one I am sure, maybe with the mentioning of some character driven documentaries, where Mikael has been the developer?

Go ahead, we want more!

And to get hold of the book, go to https://uncertainty.dk/

ZagrebDox 2024 – Being There

A good advice: If you have the time – go for a festival and stay there for the full period, it goes on. I had the luck – with my wife – to be for the 20th edition of ZagrebDox, invited because I was there for the first edition, where I was a juror for the international AND regional competition. Hard work, he was a tough guy back then, the founder and artistic director, Nenad Puhovski, this year he acted gently and put me in the short film jury – was he thinking that a 76 year old man might have problems with his bladder and would suffer if he was to watch feature length documentaries?

We were there for the whole week enjoying the atmosphere, seeing that there was a good audience, being spoiled with a hotel 5 minutes distance from the Kaptol Boutique Centre, second floor where 5 good cinema halls were waiting for people to be seated in nice and comfortable chairs. Good sound and good screen quality. The program of Nenad Puhovski and his programmers was excellent, what they do is to select the “Best of the Best” without thinking about the films having a premiere as so many festivals do. Which also gave me the chance to catch up on films that I missed at the CPH:DOX and SarajevoFF like the awarded “Four Daughters” by Kaouther Ben Hania and “Silence of Reasons” by Kumjana Novakova, the latter reviewed on this site (https://filmkommentaren.dk/kumjana-novakova-silence-of-reason/). The first one (info for the Danes) to be released in Copenhagen.

The award ceremony of the 20th edition had the fantastic “Kix” by Bálint Révész & Dávid Mikulán as the winner of three awards (review: https://filmkommentaren.dk/democracy-noir-kix/) and the mentioned “Four Daughters” as the number one in the Regional Competition. No Objections. We (I was joined by Croatian Miljenka Cogelja and Tomislav Pavlic) in the short film jury gave an honorary mention to the Estonian film “Boy” by Vladimir Loginov; the film has another Vladimir as the main protagonist, a well known monster, who is making his new year’s speech with the director cutting now and then to a boy, a soldier who stands behind him. 10 minutes long it is, I could not help thinking about Herz Frank and Juris Podnieks 1978 masterpiece “10 minutes Older”.

Our main prize went to “In Transit” by Lucija Brkić (photo) and here is the motivation: “Using a direct documentary language, the director captures the work of a colorful, charismatic young woman who wants to help migrants in need on their way to an uncertain future. It is a film full of talented observation and compassion that conveys moments of one of the biggest problems facing Europe today”. The young activist, a true hero, Tinka Ines Kalajzic, was on stage and made a long speech that you can read on her FB page.

We made it to the Museum of Broken Relationship, what a great invention with all these stories behind what was left when the split up happened. Stories, yes stories like those told at ZagrebDox, which is a festival that meets you with warmth and a program that Nenad Puhovski can be proud of. I am sure he is!