47th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Meritorious Golden Lions and a series of strange, unfair verdicts

This year’s 47th Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia has gone down in history. Apart from the deserved Golden Lions for Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s “Silent Twins”, we will remember a series of incomprehensible verdicts of the jury that harm great films. First of all, it is about the complete omission of one of the most beautiful titles of the Gdynia event – the debut “Bread and Salt” by Damian Kocur, or shaking awards, including for directing, of Jacek Bławut’s “Eagle. The Last Patrol”, devoid of emotions, writes tvn24.pl reviewer Justyna Kobus.

Dorota Pomykała about her role in the movie “Woman on the Roof”TVN24

Jurors’ verdicts in Gdynia they can be unpredictable and – apart from the most important of the awards, Golden Lions for the best film – that’s what (in part) was awarded to us this year.

Leveled level, two films stood out

The level of the Main Competition films was fairly even this year, but two titles clearly outperformed the rest, also in journalistic rankings. I am talking about the winning painting Agnieszka Smoczyńska “Silent Twins” – in terms of production (and not only), on a global level – as well as wise and extremely mature Damian Kocur’s debut “Bread and Salt”.

Both films were distinguished the day before in the so-called Young Gala, where mostly extra-statutory prizes are awarded. Kocur’s film received the most honors, including the Journalists’ Award, and was considered one of the favorites. In the unanimous opinion of critics and viewers, the title awarded in Venice in the Horizons section was badly hurt by the jurors. At the same time, although it tells about what intolerance and winding up a spiral of prejudices lead to, it did not arouse any controversy. So there was no reason why he could split the jury.

The lack of any award for Kocur’s painting (even the one for his debut was awarded to an interesting, but much weaker painting – “Raspberries”) is completely incomprehensible. And very unfair.

Damian Kocur’s “Bread and Salt” was hurt by the juryFPFF

Social drama, fantasy world and musical. “Silent Twins”

We wrote about Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s painting, combining various genres and conventions, almost from the very beginning of its implementation, which coincided with the difficult time of the pandemic. The director’s English-language debut was well received this year at the Cannes Film Festival. Presented in the Un Certain Regard competition section, it received great reviews and gave rise to the director’s international career.

Smoczyńska was known in America before, due to the gigantic success of “Cór dancingu. It was seen by Andrea Seigel, the screenwriter and producer of” Silent Twins “, who was looking for a director for her project. And it shows on the screen.

“Silent Twins” tells the story of black twins, June and Jennifer Gibbons, who refused to communicate with the world and communicated only with each other. They had an incredibly strong bond, “as if it were one person in two bodies.” Over time, the proximity of the sisters became toxic to them. The attempt to separate the girls led to mental disorders in both of them. As teenagers, they committed deliberate acts of vandalism, which resulted in them being placed for 11 years in the infamous psychiatric hospital Broadmoor, which devastated their emotional lives.

Agnieszka Smoczyńska told this story from the perspective of sisters who, over time, became known as authors of books and poems, and fulfilled artists. It fit in with their way of thinking and acting. Although this story, apart from the book, has a play and a documentary film, no one has looked at the sisters in this way before. And this is, to a large extent, the strength of the Polish film. She created an unusual picture balancing on the border between social cinema and the world of fantasy. At times, the picture also carries elements of a musical with songs that also use texts written by the twins.

Smoczyńska’s perfect production, perfect film is so dense with meanings that it can be interpreted in many ways. The director herself says that she wanted, above all, to make a film about the need for freedom and closeness. “Silent Twins” is a fulfilled and complete work, and at the same time different from all the titles we saw in Gdynia competitions. Originality is another distinguishing feature of the work of the Polish director, who eagerly crosses the genre frames, creating her own, unique, more and more memorable style.

Agnieszka Smoczyńska received her well-deserved Golden Lions for the painting “Silent Twins”PAP

Why not Kocur’s film, dear jurors?

The festival’s second most important award went to Michał Kwieciński’s film “Filip”, an adaptation of the famous novel by Leopold Tyrmand, which the writer considered to be his best work. Kwieciński made the picture with respect for the literary prototype, reverently reflecting the realities of the epoch and creating a film that may be devoid of originality, but certainly successful. “Filipa” is watched with interest, and in the main role we watch the perfectly cast, great Eryk Kulm.

The action begins in 1941 in the Warsaw ghetto. Filip, a young Polish Jew, with his beloved, is getting ready to perform in a cabaret. There is a shooting during the premiere. Among others, Sara dies. We meet Filip two years later, when he works as a waiter in an exclusive hotel in Frankfurt. He claims to be French. He is a cynic who will do anything to survive and live in prosperity. He succeeds, but by the time

Kwieciński’s painting was received favorably in Gdynia, but long, asking for assembly scissors, make it far from the perfection required of a work awarded with Silver Lions. The whole thing is also told “godly”, it lacks finesse, a bit of refinement. Far from it “Bread and Salt”.

Still from Michał Kwieciński’s film “Filip”FPFF

Why did the jurors rate it higher than the ambiguous film Kocur, which captivates with its precision and maturity, rare in a debutant? It’s hard to guess. The acting award for the excellent Kulm for the role of Philip was expected rather for the film, but not for the Silver Lions.

Boredom, sir, nothing is happening

However, while Kwieciński’s film can really be liked, it is completely incomprehensible, received with astonishment, the award for the best directing of “Eagle. The Last Patrol”. The flagship work of government television, shown at the opening of the festival, not only received extremely cold reviews, but also a large part of the audience left the screening during the screening. And that probably speaks for itself.

It could have been a fascinating movie. It tells the story of the last mission of the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł, set in 1940, which was considered lost. The circumstances and reasons for this event have never been clarified.

In terms of production, Jacek Bławut, a great documentary filmmaker, handled it flawlessly. Especially in the male audience, the struggle of the ship with submarines and enemy ships can be impressive. But what if we got the movie dead? The flower of young male acting from Tomasz Ziętek to Mateusz Kościukiewicz did not help. We follow dramatic events and we absolutely don’t care. No emotions, no interactions between the characters. We look at young men whose tragic fate is known from history and we are not able to care about it.

Nothing works in this movie, there’s not even a hint of tension. Until one asks to quote the cult “Cruise”: “Boredom … Nothing is happening, sir. Nothing. Dialogues are bad … There are very bad dialogues. There is no action at all. Nothing is happening”. And after all, the festival jury awards the film for the best director, ignoring the production sparkling with emotions, which is applauded by the audience.

It’s no secret that only from time to time the competition is won by the best works – films, books, performances, etc. But maybe it’s high time to change it?

Dorota Pomykała received the award for the best female role in Anna Jadowska’s filmPAP

A creation that happens once in many years

To wipe our tears, we can console ourselves that the most undisputed favorite of this festival, Dorota Pomykała in the film “Woman on the Roof”as predicted, she received the award for the best female leading role.

The Krakow artist created a creation that happens once in many years. She could successfully compete with the best roles of Meryl Streep or Frances McDormand, because it is an achievement of this caliber. The actress has already received the award at the New York Tribeca, where her rival was, among others Emma Thompson.

It is a pity that in other important categories the tastes of viewers and critics are so far removed from the tastes of the jurors.

Main photo source: PAP

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