DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries

… and has put together a special program, ”a declaration of Love to Polish docs”, for the festival. Readers of this site will know that Polish documentaries are highly valued through reports from the Krakow festival, lots of positive reviews (last one being ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” some days ago) and below you will find a link to an article called ”Why I love Polish Documentaires”, a love story that has lasted more than 25 years…

More about the Leipzig program later, first some sad news that makes one wonder if the good period for Polish films is over with the increasing involvement of the government, that through their minister of culture has made the move to dismiss the director of the Polish Film Institute, Magdalena Sroka. You can read all about it on the site of Film New Europe, link below, but here comes some quotes:

Polish film organisations sent an open letter to Piotr Gliński Minister of Culture and National Heritage on 12 October 2017 to voice their concern about the dismissal of Magdalena Sroka as Director of the Polish Film Institute. The letter was signed by 427 representatives of the Polish Film Industry.

They call the dismissal ”unlawful”…” As the Board of PISF pointed out in their official resolution, none of the circumstances, named in the Cinematography Bill as reasons to dismiss the Director before their term ends, have taken place…” and continue that ” Your decision to dismiss Director Sroka is especially alarming, when we keep in mind that PISF is not an institution funded from the public budget, but from private income financed by the participants of the Polish audiovisual sector. Those payers are half of the Board of PISF and to omit their unified opinion is to undermine the rules that govern current Polish cinematography.”

The protest was followed by a support letter from the President of European Film Awards, Wim Wenders, who writes (a quote): ”Instead of being proud of the achievements of Polish cinema which belongs to the most successful film cultures in Europe, instead of protecting and watering the beautiful plant that is growing in your garden, you are cutting the water – despite the protest of the board of the Polish Institute and ignoring the many voices from the Polish film community that are asking you to reconsider your decision.

Perpetrating this act on the anniversary of the death of the great Andrzej Wajda (PHOTO) not only adds insult to injury, it is a desecration of the memory of Poland’s greatest filmmaker…”

DOK Leipzig Program

12 films are being shown at the Polnisches Institut on the main square in Leipzig. Gems like ”Brothers” by Wojciech Staron, ”Communion” by Anna Zamecka who just won the main prize at the Yamagata Festival in Japan, Pawel Lozinski’s ”Father and Son” (Marcel and Pawel), ”Deep Love” by Jan P. Matuszynski, ”Diary of a Journey” by Piotr Stasik – to mention 5 of them, all written about on this site.

Why are Polish documentaries so good? Could it be because Polish filmmakers always have an aesthetic choice before shooting starts. They think about form before content, they think about the style of storytelling that could fit this or that theme. They look for a method. They think in images that can carry emotion and information without words.

That is of course not the only explanation. The country has a rich culture for documentaries – good festivals, many and good film schools, strong publicity and promotion, also abroad – and until now a well functioning Polish Film Institute with an ok funding. Don’t cut the water as says Wenders above! Keep the politicians away!





Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3866