Warsaw Film Fest turns to Page Eight and '50% premieres' competition
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
06/10/2011 - UK writer-director Sir David Hare’s Page Eight [trailer], starring Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, will launch the 27th Warsaw International Film Festival tomorrow at Warsaw’s Multikino – the BBC one-off spy drama is the latest result of Hare and Nighy’s 30-year collaboration, and they will both attend the screening.
Warsaw is Page Eight’s second screening after Toronto, and the majority of this year’s programme - 127 features and 97 shorts from 59 countries – is equally recent. ”We have become more premiere conscious,” explained festival director Stefan Laudyn. ”More than 50% of the entries in the main competition are European, international or world premieres. The FIAPF recognition certainly helps us get the films we want.”
Since 2009, the Warsaw showcase has been on the International Federation of Film Producers Associations’ list of the 14 top festivals in the world with an international competition along with Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno - this year 20 features will compete for the €23,000 grand prix. Another 17 titles have been selected for the 1-2 Competition, comprising international directors’ first or second features.
”The film festival's profile is constantly changing – we react to world trends, develop new programmes, improve audience facilities, at the same time trying to keep the informal and friendly atmosphere which is one of Warsaw’s characteristics. If you believe you have created the perfect festival you have either reached nirvana or – more likely – you should retire,” added Laudyn, who has been in the organising committee since the very start.
Traditional sidebars include the Free Spirit Competition for independent, innovative, rebellious films, which this year includes seven premieres; the Documentory Film Competititon, with five contenders; and the Short Film Competition. Adding gala screenings, two Discovery sections and a Family Weekend, all unspooling at Multikino 1-4 and Kinoteka 1-5, the Warsaw festival last year reached 384 screenings and registered 109,000 admissions.
Among the highlights of the 2011 edition Laudyn emphasised presentations of the late Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 classic, The Battle of Algiers, as well as Iranian director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s This Is Not A Film, about his director compatriot Jafar Panahi who is under home arrest waiting to be sentenced for ”anti-system activities” - Warsaw had invited Panahi to preside over the festival jury.
What began 11 years ago with a couple of local projects, Cent-East Market Warsaw has become the leading industry event, and has added ’Moscow’ to its name – the presentation of East European works-in-progress to fiilm professionals between October 14-16 will be repeated at Moscow’s 2morrow International Film Festival (on October 22). Polish projects by Katarzyna Roslaniec, Andrzej Jakimowski) are among the 11 selections.
The 10-day festival programme is concluded by the Warsaw Screenings of the recent local productions, panels on film sales and distribution, a workshop on editing and an introduction to the industry for Polish shorts directors. A Dangerous Method [trailer] - Canadian director David Cronenberg's take on how psychoanalysis was born, which will garner himself and Ralph Fiennes a BFI Fellowship 2011 - will form the prestigious closure to the event on October 17.