Thanks for your encouraging articles about Katyn. I'm mostly feeling
bad because the film that won was basically the biography of a
Communist whereas Katyn was about the killing of the Polish officers
by Communists. Why did that one win over Katyn?
I guess I'll have to get busy writing letters and/or calling all my
local theaters to ask them to show Katyn. I'll try to find some
addresses and emails for theaters so we all can start writing.
I just noticed that the woman quoted from the Kraków Film Foundation
from your posted article has the same name as my grandmother,
Katarzyna Wilk. It must be a common name. Or, who knows, maybe
she's a relative. Either way, seeing my grandmother's name in print
warmed my heart.
Thanks again for your posts.
--- In Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
, "Andy Golebiowski"
> Just in case you're feeling down about Katyn not winning, here is
> good news. Also remember that films nominated for Oscars can also
> that fact in advertising themselves. Just go see it in your town
> it appears and encourage others to do so. If it's not scheduled to
> show, arrange for it to be screened.
> Andy Golebiowski
> Buffalo, NY
> From TheNews.pl:
> Wajda's Katyn best Polish film ever poll says
> 25.02.2008 08:22
> Despite the fact that the American Film Academy didn't award Katyn
> with an Oscar, Poles still think that it's the best Polish film of
> The majority (55.5 percent) of Poles believe that Katyn is the best
> Polish film in history, a poll published in Polska daily reveals.
> Wajda's film is followed by an epic masterpiece The Teutonic Knights
> (20.9 percent) and The Deluge (20.4), both based on H. Sienkiewicz's
> Andrzej Wajda himself was chosen by the poll participants the best
> Polish director (67.5 percent), followed by Roman Polanski and
> Krzysztof Kieslowski.
> From Warsaw Business Journal:
> 25th February 2008
> Cinematic comeback?
> by Konrad Kiedrzyński
> Once the darling of international cinephiles, Poland's film industry
> has long since fallen from grace
> Can the Polish film industry return to its days of glory? Can
> Polish film industry return to its days of glory?
> It now has a chance to refresh its faded reputation, thanks to the
> country's good economic situation and recent government initiatives,
> but much needs to be done if the industry is to develop and prosper
> Katyń, the newest film by celebrated Polish director Andrzej
> has already been watched by around three million people in Poland
> since its September 2007 premier, and it has been positively
> abroad too, earning an Oscar nomination for last Sunday's 2008
> This recent distinction, along with the success of 2002's The
> stands in sharp contrast to the usual international reception of
> Polish cinema - criticism that the films are derivative, shoddy or
> simply unimpressive. Where, cinephiles ask, is the biting social
> commentary or the absurdist genius of Poland's communist-era films?
> the country of Kieślowski, Wajda, Polański and the famous
> School, it seems that the industry has been largely stagnant for the
> last two decades, mostly due to a lack of funds and and absence of
> fresh ideas.
> Post-communist crash
> The Polish film crisis was caused by the fall of communism and the
> advent of the free market economy, film experts claim. "The system
> state subsidies collapsed," Jacek Rakowiecki, editor-in-chief of
> one of the most popular film magazines in the country, told WBJ.
> According to Jacek Bromski, a director and the head of Polish
> Filmmakers' Association (SFP), the key factors in the post-communist
> decline of Polish cinema were: "Diminishing state funding, year by
> year; inability to get a return on investments; the small number of
> the cinemas; and ruthless competition from American film
> At that time the number of cinema-goers also fell, as people's
> got leaner. "Despite the overall economic progress, many people
> [missed out on the prosperity]," Film's Rakowiecki said.
> Overnight, the new socio-economic reality rendered previously
> successful conventions obsolete and sent Polish filmmakers
> to come up with new ones. A number chose to mimic profitable Western
> productions instead of searching for their own forms of expression,
> said specialists interviewed by WBJ.
> "The new reality has offered a multitude of themes, both in the
> historical and social senses, yet these have not been addressed in
> last 20 years," said Roman Gutek, the founder of film distributor
> Gutek Film and director of the Era New Horizons International Film
> Festival in Wrocław.
> Meanwhile, the Polish film industry's flirtation with American-style
> filmmaking has proven troubled. Attempts to copy Hollywood, but with
> far fewer funds, often ended in failure or kitsch, Film's
> Audience appreciation
> Recent years have seen a boom for the cinema industry, thanks to
> economic prosperity and a growing demand for films. Eurostat data
> 2007 suggest that the average Pole goes to the cinema 0.8 times a
> - compared to the Irish average of 4.2 and an EU average of 1.9 -
> this figure has been on the rise for years. According to Poland's
> Central Statistical Office, 26.5 million cinema tickets were sold in
> 1999, while 32 million were sold in 2006.
> The number of Polish movies being shown in cinemas is also rising.
> 2004, only 12 Polish films played in domestic cinemas, according to
> Polish Film Institute (PISF) data. In contrast, 26 films were shown
> State succor
> Poland's authorities have taken steps to help too. The Act of June
> 2005 on Cinematography - which created the Polish Film Institute
> (PISF) and established a new framework for financing film
> is seen as a milestone for the industry. PISF's total annual budget
> around zł.100 million, which is drawn from the state budget
> 1.5-percent tax on the revenues of cinemas, TV stations, digital
> platform operators, film distributors and other audiovisual-related
> industries. The institution can finance up to 50 percent of a film's
> production, but its contribution is capped at zł.4 million in
> of fictional movies and zł.500,000 in the case of
> Last year in July, the government also signed an agreement to
> a film production lot in the town of Nowe Miasto nad Pilicą,
> about 80 km from the capital. Construction on the E100
> million project is expected to be completed by 2009, providing the
> industry with 23,016-sqm of modern production facilities.
> Experts agreed that state aid is crucial. "It is a European standard
> that the state takes care of the national cinema and audiovisual
> industry," SFP's Bromski commented.
> The list of tasks
> "The Polish cinema industry has caught its breath," he said, but
> that more systematic changes were necessary, including investments
> infrastructure and the creation of a tax relief system that would
> foreign productions. "It is necessary to foster the appropriate
> conditions [for development], so that we do not remain at the rear
> the race with other countries]," Bromski said.
> Agnieszka Odorowicz, the president of PISF, also stressed that much
> remains to be done. "The film industry still encounters legal
> in many areas of its activity." As key changes to be made, she
> the implementation of tax relief for domestic filmmakers and a VAT
> refund mechanism for foreign investors.
> The latter is particularly urgent since foreign filmmakers are
> increasingly interested in Poland. For example, February saw filming
> start on Limo Driver, an international production directed by Jerome
> Dassier, featuring Christopher Lambert and co-produced by Ozumi
> With greater incentives, Poland could attract productions which
> otherwise be lost to other countries in the region.
> A scarcity of cinemas is another problem, as Poland has just one
> screen per 40,000 people, compared with one per 17,000 in France,
> 15,000 in the Czech Republic and 11,000 in Spain, according to CF
> Helios, Poland's third-largest multiplex operator. "Many good films
> which could attract a considerable audience instead disappear
> there is no place to show them," Roman Gutek said.
> Even large numbers of movie-goers do not always ensure a profit,
> however, and piracy cuts into sources of revenue which might
> provide a return. Kamil Przełęcki, the production manager
> Studio - which produced Katyń - stressed the need to generate
> via DVD sales or TV broadcast rights. These avenues are also
> upon by piracy though, especially since Poland lacks the appropriate
> regulations to prevent illegal downloading, said PISF's Odorowicz.
> Finally, according to Roman Gutek, the sectors of promotion and
> distribution also have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to
> targeting foreign markets. "Polish producers focus on the production
> process, but neglect the fact that film has to be promoted," he
> Polish companies should also increase their presence at industry
> and festivals, Gutek added. "We are not present or active
> internationally," he concluded.
> Subject matters
> Although the Polish film industry has relatively limited funding and
> cannot compete with Western blockbusters, analysts stress that it
> should concentrate on content rather than form. "We can compete
> through artistic and more ambitious cinema
the better the theme,
> greater the chance for revenue," Przełęcki said.
> The range of potentially successful topics is huge in a country like
> Poland, especially given its long and dramatic history. "Even though
> period films require huge investments
experience shows that these
> movies make the big money," SFP's Bromski said. "[Our institution]
> understands that and we are taking steps to increase financial aid
> these kinds of movies," he added.
> A successful film also brings more than financial success. Movies
> as Katyń have the potential to boost Poland's image in the
> international arena, Bromski stressed, referring to the success of
> film's premiere in Berlin and the participation of German Chancellor
> Angela Merkel and other key politicians. "Even the Ministry of
> Affairs and its best ambassadors could not have achieved what such a
> film could achieve," Bromski said.
> Documentaries, which are becoming more popular with international
> audiences, also hold a lot of potential for the Polish film
> "International interest in Polish [documentaries] is huge," said
> Katarzyna Wilk of the Kraków Film Foundation (KFF), the organization
> responsible for the annual Kraków Film Festival. She stressed that
> increasing interest is closely connected with recently increased
> promotional activity.
> "We target 200 festivals annually, with about 60 productions," she
> More than just chick flicks
> Akson Studio's Przełęcki stressed however, that strong
> employed too rarely in Poland, as many filmmakers choose to produce
> popular but largely mediocre projects. "I am a little worried about
> the present situation, where young filmmakers are concerned with the
> financial aspect only," said Przełęcki. He was hopeful
> future, though.
> "As the country overcomes its basic economic troubles, there is a
> chance that cultural quality will regain importance," he said.